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May 20, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Critics who had their swords out for the last Pirates of the Caribbean sequel, At World’s End, have managed to thrust them in to the hilt with the latest one, On Stranger Tides. The film has received not a single positive review from a major critic. The least caustic is Betsy Sharkey’s in the Los Angeles Times, who remarks that without Johnny Depp, “there would be absolutely no fun to be found” in the movie. Depp, she adds, “somehow manages to keep this ship of fools afloat. But just barely.” Other critics disagree, intimating that Depp’s Captain Jack is wearing out his welcome. “He’s like a party guest who has told the same joke too many times now,” writes Ty Burr in the Boston Globe. “It’s a good joke but you know the teller can do better.” The plot, writes Philadelphia Inquirer critic Steven Rea, offers “little if anything here to keep us emotionally invested,” so the filmmakers pile on mutinies and sword fights and the like “just to wow us. And frankly, the wow factor isn’t that great.” Indeed, says A. O. Scott in the New York Times, the latest Pirates installment exhibits “none of the cartoonish exuberance or creepy-crawly effects that made its predecessors intermittently delightful.” Nevertheless, Scott, like other critics, acknowledges that the movie is virtually critic-proof. “People will go, and more energy will be expended parsing the box-office returns than discussing the merits of the film,” he writes. Peter Howell in the Toronto Star predicts, “Pirates 4 will open huge, despite what critics say. But it looks doubtful that it will stay afloat for long into the summer.” Nearly every critic also complains about the 3D enhancement to the franchise. Sharkey at the L.A. Times comments that the three Ds ought to “stand for dark and dismal and disastrously claustrophobic.” Elizabeth Weitzman comments in the New York Daily News: “Making a frustratingly dark movie even muddier, the 3D and IMAX options enhance nothing but the price of a ticket.” And Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal writes that the print he saw “was so murky as to make you give thanks for the few scenes shot in simple sunlight.” The film is also opening overseas simultaneously with its domestic opening, and the reviews abroad are even more scathing. Chris Tookey in the London Daily Mail begins his review by commenting that “with no plot, no wit and no charm … [it] deserves to sink without a trace.” He ends it this way: “The film reeks of contempt for its audience. Utterly lacking the romance and charm of the first two pictures, it s soulless and corporate, generating zero interest in any of its characters. Like the oceans it sails, it s unfathomable.”