At the behest of King George, Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), a one-time pirate now turned privateer, is searching for the fabled Fountain of Youth. His job is to claim it for England before the Spanish armada gets there. Meanwhile, Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) is shanghaied to work on board a ship run by the evil Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and Jack’s old flame Angelica (Penelope Cruz). They’re after the fountain too, but first must fight off manhungry mermaids.
Richard: * 1/2
Mark Breslin: Richard, I wasn’t even a fan of the original. And no franchise should exceed a trilogy unless the words “godfather” or “cheerleaders” are in the title. An appreciation of this movie is contingent upon how you feel about Johnny Depp and how much swordplay you can handle. I adore Depp’s brilliant characterization in the series, but really, the tricks are starting to show their age. And I didn’t like swashbuckling even when Douglas Fairbanks did it in 1932. Still, I thought this edition of Pirates was the best since the original, whatever that means.
RC: I don’t think this one has the spark of the others. It’s not as funny, Depp seems like he’s gone back to the Captain Jack treasure chest one too many times and the action scenes, despite the 3-D, don’t fly off the screen the way they have in the past. I liked the mermaids and think their attack sequence is the most exciting thing in the movie, but I may be wrong simply because the movie is so dark I may have missed something.
MB: Oh, those mermaids! Who knew they spoke in a Scandinavian accent? Yes, they are the most exciting thing in the movie, although I did enjoy Ian MacShane’s villainy. But despite the fountain of youth plot device, these Pirates are getting old. And you’re right about how dark the film is: I was straining to make out which pirate was which. Quick clue: Depp is the Pirate Who’s Had A Bit Of Work Done.
RC: Ha! Perhaps playing the same character four times in eight years is too much for Depp, or perhaps the limitations of Captain Jack are becoming apparent but he’s not as entertaining as before. Not that director Rob Marshall helps him. The action sequences are as well choreographed as you might expect from the man who made Chicago and Nine, but they are also as exciting as you would expect from a man who specializes in making musicals.
MB: I see what you’re getting at. For the next instalment, make it a musical complete with a chorus line of mermaids!