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Movie review: 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' -- 2 stars

Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz in

Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" Photo Credit: Handout

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
2 stars
Directed by Rob Marshall
Starring Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane
Rated PG-13

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” is the shortest “Pirates” movie, but it feels just as eternal as its predecessors. It’s the same old treasure hunt, same old sword fights and same old bon mots we’ve seen before.

Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley jumped ship for this installment, but Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow, along with Geoffrey Rush as frenemy Captain Barbossa. Ian McShane completes the trifecta of dream casting as Blackbeard, who forces Sparrow into helping him find the Fountain of Youth. Along for the ride is Blackbeard’s daughter (Penelope Cruz), who also happens to be Sparrow’s ex-fiance and fickle ally.

Depp and Rush bring an integrity to their roles that the movie probably doesn’t deserve, but their allure has waned dramatically since the first movie. Their once-inspired characters have evolved into joyless moving figures on a screen — Depp could probably play the slurry-speeched pirate in his sleep.

The story itself is rote to the core and has too many moving parts to mention, though the visual effects and costumes are undeniably top-notch. The mermaid sequence, in which Blackbeard’s crew comes under attack by a pod of killer mermaids, is especially dazzling and gripping, if only for a few minutes

Like its predecessors, “On Stranger Tides” entertains you on a micro-level, but boredom will ultimately spoil your popcorn-entertainment high. Apart from the first installment, which stands alone in its originality, the “Pirates” movies have become too formulaic for their own good.

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