Stranger dan­ger

Di­rec­tor: Rob Mar­shall ( Chicago) Stars: Johnny Depp, Pene­lope Cruz, Ian McShane, Ge­of­frey Rush, Kevin McNally Washed up all over again

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies - LEIGH PAATSCH

WORLD cin­ema needs an­other Pi­rates of the Caribbean about as much as Aus­tralian TV needs its very own The Amaz­ing Race.

Pub­lic de­mand ain’t ex­actly on the up and up. But if your crap­pi­ness-de­tec­tion sys­tem is down, Pi­rates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides will find you, force your wal­let open and flee with the money – just like the blus­ter­i­est block­busters of the US sum­mer al­ways do.

This fourth episode is be­ing pitched as a re­boot of the fran­chise. Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth.

The only notable change is that the two dullest stars in the POTC galaxy – Keira Knight­ley and Or­lando Bloom – have been snuffed out for good.

Other­wise, it’s busi­ness as wooz-ual for main man Johnny Depp, ham­ming it up be­yond the hilt as the one, the only Cap­tain Jack Spar­row.

The need-to-know on the newre­cruit front starts and ends with Ian McShane and Pene­lope Cruz, play­ing the in­fa­mous plun­derer Black­beard and his baby­li­cious daugh­ter An­gel­ica re­spec­tively.

Reg­u­lars still in the mix in­clude Ge­of­frey Rush ( be­low) as long-time Spar­row neme­sis Bar­bossa and Kevin McNally as his mut­ton-chopped side­kick Gibbs. Oh, and once again Rolling Stones gui­tarist Keith Richards swag­gers off with a scene to call his own as Spar­row’s dad.

Just like the last two in­stal­ments, the plot­ting here in­vari­ably goes ev­ery­where at once and nowhere in par­tic­u­lar.

Af­ter a short open­ing-act stop in old Lon­don town – where we learn Jack and An­gel­ica ( above) once had a thing go­ing on – the ac­tion shifts to the high seas, where ev­ery­one has set sail in search of the fa­bled Fountain of Youth.

Bar­bossa is com­mand­ing the fleet of the Bri­tish King. The Span­ish Ar­mada has also taken an in­ter­est.

Mean­while, Black­beard and An­gel­ica are steer­ing a ves­sel crewed by some cu­ri­ously well-be­haved zom­bie sailors.

Spar­row has been forced to throw in his lot with the Black­beard gang, who half-heart­edly fight among them­selves for al­most 90 min­utes of this long, long 135-minute slog.

When the Fountain of Youth fi­nally ap­pears on the hori­zon, a bevy of blood­thirsty vam­pire mer­maids ap­pears to block the way.

Zom­bie sailors? Vam­pire mer­maids? What next? Were­wolf whales? Who writes this stuff? Don’t ask Depp. He’s gone on record as say­ing he didn’t even bother read­ing the screen­play un­til he ab­so­lutely had to.

There’s not much more that can be said about this loud, lav­ishly empty live-ac­tion car­toon. Most cin­e­mas are screen­ing it in 3D.

Depp and Cruz share a wonky, dis­con­nected chem­istry, not un­like two peo­ple who have spiked each other’s drinks. And in case you are won­der­ing, a vam­pire mer­maid will beat a zom­bie sailor in a fight nine times out of 10.

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