Pirates of the Caribbean: Time to give it a rest?

Johnny Depp is back for the fourth time as Capt. Jack Sparrow. Was another sequel really necessary?

Johnny Depp's Mick Jagger-inspired Capt. Jack Sparrow
(Image credit: Facebook/Pirates of the Caribbean)

The fourth installment of Disney's theme-park-ride-turned-blockbuster-franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean, hits theaters this weekend. The last two movies pulled in more than $100 million each in their opening weekends, though critics ridiculed their convoluted, drawn-out plots. The latest film, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, stars Johnny Depp, as usual, but introduces a new director — Rob Marshall — and a new heroine — goodbye Keira Knightley, hello Penélope Cruz. Did the changes refresh a salty old franchise, or is it time to let this pirate ship sink? (Watch the film's trailer.)

Please, make them stop: "I had already reached my capacity for Pirates of the Caribbean movies," says Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times, "and with this fourth installment, my cup runneth over." The fight scenes are all quick editing cuts with no actual swordplay, giving them "all of the movement of action and none of the excitement." The result is a film that is long, expensive, bombastic, and sort of boring, which is just what you'd expect from a film juggernaut that has sailed one time — or two — too many.

"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"

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Actually, this sequel will rescue the franchise: "The legions of filmgoers who have made the Pirates movies such a box office behemoth needn't worry," says Ann Hornaday in The Washington Post. On Stranger Tides, a tale of the race to find the fountain of youth, has just "the proper ratio of action, humor, adventure, and bodice-ripping" that made the first film such a hit. It "feels as fresh and bracingly exhilarating as the day Jack Sparrow first swashed his buckle, infusing new reckless energy into a franchise that shows no signs of furling its sails."

"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"

In Hollywood, there is no such thing as enough: Is the sequel necessary? That's "a naïve question," says A.O. Scott in The New York Times. "In Hollywood, gratuitous excess — not necessity — is the mother of invention." This movie has "none of the cartoonish exuberance or creepy-crawly effects that made its predecessors intermittently delightful." But people will go, and the movie's "mediocrity" will be forgotten, thanks to its inevitably huge box-office haul.

"Whale oil explodes and buccaneers bellow"

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