'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides:' What Critics Say

 Peter Mountain/Disney Enterprises Inc

Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides opens Friday. What are the critics saying about the Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz starrer?

"Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow is back in excellent form for his fourth adventure in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which is more serious in the hands of a new director, Rob Marshall, and thanks to Penelope Cruz it’s also a good deal sexier," writes The Hollywood Reporter's Ray Bennett. PHOTOS: The making of 'The Pirates of the Caribbean'

"Best known for musicals such as Nine and the Academy Award-winning Chicago, Marshall shows terrific flair with all the usual chases and sword fights, and he handles the 3D well. He also adds a dash of pepper with lively sexual tension between Sparrow and a Spanish firecracker named Angelica (Cruz)," he adds.

"At 136 minutes, the film is marginally the shortest in the series and it profits from that. Cruz is a wonderful addition and a teaser following the credits augers well for more so long as Depp continues to get as much enjoyment from playing the role as he gives to his audience.

The Chicago Sun-Times' Roger Ebert didn't enjoy the film as much.

"The movie is fun until they set sail," he writes. "Johnny Depp, who confesses he's rather tired of playing his relentless hero, nevertheless does a plucky job here," but he adds that, "We no longer see truly great sword-fighting, the kind performed by Liam Neeson and Tim Roth in Rob Roy (1995). It's all impossible leaping and incomprehensible cutting, giving us all of the movement of action and none of the excitement."

"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is about what you'd expect. It is long, expensive and bombastic, and the beautiful mermaid has a tantalizing way of not coming quite far enough out of the water," he adds. "For me, it's too much of a muchness. The whole series was inspired by a ride at Disneyland. There's a bright side to that. At least no movie has yet been inspired by "It's a Small World."

The Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey credits Depp with saving the film.

If not for Capt. Jack Sparrow there would be absolutely no fun to be found in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," the latest edition of Disney's waterlogged franchise," she writes. "But Johnny Depp, back again as the swashbuckling miscreant who favors guy-liner and gold, somehow manages to keep this ship of fools afloat. But just barely."

She was not impressed by the 3D effects.

If the plot "sounds like a promising place to work a lot of 3-D magic, then boy are you in for a major letdown," she warns. "The Ds in this instance stand for dark and dismal and disastrously claustrophobic. The production design is strangely ancient, as if the actors stumbled onto a sound stage filled with old props. Even the Fountain of Youth, the object of everyone's desire, looks as if it were carved out of gray Styrofoam. And that, mateys, is no way to steer a ship. Aargh."

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