There’s nothing particularly strange about the latest outing of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Granted, many seemingly key elements have changed, yet there’s the sense that the general proceedings have remained more than vaguely familiar. The heavily made-up pirate continues to wander into deep waters and make ripples, but he’s lost a couple of his close companions. Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) have jumped off the boat, leaving him in the company of his pirate nemesis Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) as they embark separately on journeys to discover the Fountain of Youth with the legendary Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and his daughter Angelica (Penelope Cruz) in tow.
And while Rob Marshall (Chicago) replaces franchise player Gore Verbinski at the helm, the misadventures meander along at the same infuriating snail’s pace with major set pieces that rely on chases (with an early sequence here in London that is reminiscent of an Old World take on The Fast and the Furious) and swordplay that fail to thrill or dare us to care. Depp throws himself into the character once again, but he is starting to look like he needs to find, if not his own version of the Fountain of Youth, then maybe a puddle of artistic integrity to dip his big toe into because time and tide wait for no man and it is a shame to watch him as strangely adrift as he is here. Grade: D-plus
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