starring Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Ian McShane, Geoffrey Rush
screenplay by Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio, suggested by the novel On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers
directed by Rob Marshall
by Walter Chaw The mermaid effects in a nasty little sequence that falls around the midway point of Rob Marshall's disastrous, deadening Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (hereafter Pirates 4) are the only thing to recommend about this death march, and even those are almost too dark to make out. It's a situation aided by taking off the "real D" glasses, though not entirely ameliorated because Marshall's an assclown and this fourth instalment in the exhausted franchise is composed almost entirely of groups of people trudging and swooping aerial shots of pirate ships. It's the longest three days I've spent in a theatre this year. Of course, there's also Johnny Depp, content, it seems, to move into his movie dotage doing shtick for which the film stops and chuckles appreciatively at machine-calibrated intervals. It's comfortable stuff--boring stuff--so resigned to regurgitating its bird's dinner into the mouths of a nation of idiot babies that it rips off Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade instead of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Embarrassing? You bet. Not the least for its inevitable fate as one of the top-grossing films of the summer.