Wednesday, May 4, 2011

RUFF CROWD EXCLUSIVE - Pirates 4: On Lamer Tides

By Stella Cole, Top Critic
Hollywood, California

With it’s May 20 release date fast approaching, you won’t find many other Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides reviews floating around the web. Could it be that the all-mighty Disney is worried that the fourth installment of its big budget franchise won’t live up to its predecessors? My highly-developed dog senses tell me the answer is “yes”, although they really don’t have to be. Even though this summer-blockbuster-season-kicker-offer isn’t particularly spectacular or memorable, it’s perfectly watchable and nearly exactly what you’re expecting. And from what I’ve learned about American audiences, this typically translates to record-breaking box office grosses.

Last night’s critics screening was packed to the gills to see our old pal Captain Jack Sparrow in his latest adventure – the search for the fountain of youth. We’ve got plenty of familiar characters along for the ride, and few high-profile new ones as well. Geoffrey Rush reprises his role as Barbosa, but the notable new additions include Ian McShane as the infamous Blackbeard and the pretty noticeably pregnant Penelope Cruz as his daughter and Jack’s will-they-or-won’t-they love interest. (Seriously, are they still insinuating that Jack is straight? Have you seen him run?) There are just enough swordfights and narrow escapes for series enthusiasts, but the most welcome addition in this dog’s opinion was a really enjoyable bit with the gorgeous but bloodthirsty mermaids.

But on some level, it’s hard to ignore that Disney completely fails to up the ante here. After the visual assault that was the climax of At World’s End (seriously, there was a LOT going on during that maelstrom), On Stranger Tides seems like a bit of an anticlimax for Jack & friends. In fact, there’s not a single moment of genuine fear for Jack’s overall wellbeing. Female audiences won’t have the Will/Elizabeth love story to root for, and as a villain, Blackbeard doesn’t instill half the terror of Davy Jones. So was it good? No, not particularly. Was it good enough? Sure, as long as your standards are nice and low.

Summary: See it for a matinee – it’s exactly $8.50 worth of fun.

Wags: 3/5

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