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On Stranger Tides

(Peter Mountain/Disney)


On Stranger Tides

Clocking in at just over two hours, the movie delivers only about half an hour of fun

The fourth movie of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise sets sail without former stars Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley. But Johnny Depp as the incorrigible Captain Jack Sparrow and Penelope Cruz as his new rival unearth as much booty as possible out of this series before it grounds itself once and for all.

Just as Sparrow attempts to break a crewmate out of prison, his old rival and/or ally Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) surfaces, eager to exact revenge on Blackbeard the Pirate (Ian McShane). Blackbeard's daughter Angelica (Cruz) has her own agenda: She wants to find the lost fountain of youth. Soon Sparrow is aboard Blackbeard's ship in a race with both Barbossa's English galleon and the Spanish royal ship to find the fountain.

Clocking in at just over two hours, the movie delivers only about half an hour of fun. An attack by mermaids whose seductive eyes mask harrowing teeth is nicely done. Sparrow and Barbossa get in a good gibe here and there. For the most part, though, Depp rehashes his wobbly character without new life. Interestingly, Blackbeard's ship carries a captive priest (Sam Clafin) who is the most moral and courageous character in the film. He even argues with Blackbeard about the possibility of salvation.

Rated PG-13 and from Disney, the film avoids inappropriate content, although there are a few exchanges between Depp and Cruz where that depends on the kids not knowing words like corrupted and brothel. Images will be frightening for younger kids, but the violence is mostly implied.

In the end, this fourth Pirates movie feels like the ride at Disney Land. It's not the first ride in the morning when you're fresh and excited; it's more like the last ride of the day when your feet hurt, your pocket is empty, and you squeeze out one last voyage before heading for the exits.