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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    On tedious tides

    As if cursed by Aztec doubloons, the “”Pirates of the Caribbean”” series has transformed from a playful exploration of high-seas heroism to a skulking skeleton fueled by cliché, CGI and Jack Sparrow’s flailing limbs.

    “”Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”” successfully rehashes the core conflict of its piratical predecessors: Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and friends move between several crews racing for a supernatural prize. This time, that prize is the Fountain of Youth.

    The promise of eternal life seems like a valuable MacGuffin, until the astute viewer remembers that the rules of death don’t strictly apply in the “”Pirates”” universe. In the original “”Pirates,”” didn’t Sparrow and Barbossa duke it out so they could be free from the curse of the undead? Didn’t they both die, only to get resurrected in “”Dead Man’s Chest”” and “”At World’s End””? If Jack Sparrow dies for real, can Disney lash any more cash out of this zombified franchise? Of course not. So where’s the tension?

    Throughout the movie, viewers are treated to typically goofy “”Pirates”” antics. Jack Sparrow recklessly improvises his way out of ambushes, imprisonment and impossible odds like a pirate MacGyver. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), this time in the dress blues and puffy wig of a British privateer, goes “”Har har!”” and tries to impede Jack’s progress. Longtime lovers Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) have been pulled from the series; but their orphaned sexual tension makes port between the “”Twilight””-y couple of a sometimes-shirted Christian missionary and a naked mermaid who has legs for some reason, but no nipples, because this is a family movie.

    As the villain Blackbeard, Ian McShane turns every line to poetry, but his character is ultimately a flat, unredeemable scoundrel. Penelope Cruz, who plays a former lover of Jack’s and the possible daughter of Blackbeard, stands around in a bodice and pouts.

    Even with these big-name additions to the crew, and Hans Zimmer’s ever-booming soundtrack, “”On Stranger Tides”” barely makes a ripple. Jack Sparrow’s core emotional decision rests on finding the fountain for himself or helping his double-crossed lover find it as a consolation for abandoning her years ago. Through selfishness he prospers, and reminds everyone that he is a character impervious to change.

    Jack Sparrow has overstayed his welcome on the big screen. It’s high time he was stranded on the isle of Saturday morning cartoons where he’s always belonged. Yarr.

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