Some series just won't die. Take a look at the dreadful Fast and the Furious and American Pie series. When will they open their eyes to the fact that they have long out-stayed their welcome and that no-one's buying, no matter whatever you're selling. Also, the Indiana Jones franchise. It took a 500 feet fall - in a fridge, no less - to make them realize that no-one cares, except maybe them quite-brainless die-hard fans. Films which deserve a sequel, or to made a series out of, aren't getting any love - 500 Days of Autumn / Spring / Winter, anyone? - and those to which we don't need, are getting elongated incessantly - how many more gory deaths do we need to see before they axe the SAW series? or how much destruction of USA, and Shia LaBeouf, before they finally put Transformers in the trash can?
Pirates of the Caribbean is no different. Remember the first film? or the third? how incredibly awesome they were? recall the second? how laboriously slow it was? Well, On Stranger Tides is even much slower than that. It has a heart of a dying rat, spirit of a 116 yr. old man, and the entertainment factor of a waterbed. The film, especially the first 30 minutes, was a labor to the eyes, akin to painting a house and then being forced to watch it dry. Not only were the jokes not funny, but they were hackneyed, generic. Jack Sparrow was so painfully over-stupid that half the time I kept wishing they should just hang him and get it over it. The story is arguably the weakest from the series, and it isn't too exciting, nor adventurous. Although I enjoyed the fact that the characters of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann were finally written off, they wiped the big smile off my face by bringing in mermaids, half-assed humour, no stability, and dragging screen-time. The inclusion of mermaids turned me off the most, as they were poor excuse for nothing more than just general excitement among male viewers. Delicious eye candies so that us males can deviate our eyes from the (usually) fully clothed Angelica, and also that we stick to the very end, in case we get a notorious *ahem*nipple shot*ahem* - which we don't get. Adding salt to wound is the fact that they made one mermaid strangely philosophic. Seriously? Make them like Ariel, you know, rebellious, red-headed, with a huge man as their father. But no, instead we get walkway models who try hard to cough up the right expressions... usually failing!
As much lame the film was, the light bulb was shining strongly in the villains department. Villains have always been a strong factor of the series - Hector Barbossa in the first, Davy Jones in the second and Lord Cutler Beckett in the third. This time around we get Blackbeard, played by Ian McShane. Where the previous villains were either manipulative, egotistic, or intellectually clever, Blackbeard here is plain and simple, evil. He practices voodoo, plays twisted little games with his crew, and impressively lives up to his status as the most feared pirate, even among other pirates. Because he is simply EVIL!
From the performances, Johnny Depp was still on the treadmill, surprisingly, but on a much lower speed, almost shuffling-point. Ian McShane was the most impressive, and certainly the best acted villain of the series. Penelope Cruz was an interesting addition. She had in her caliber, a western gun-moll spirit to her. In fact, she ended up being the most "woman-who-draws-men-in" character than her semi-nude, fish-tailed aquatic counterparts. The returning cast + the new additions were decent enough, but they could've gotten more recognition had they been in any of the previous installments.
In conclusion, On Stranger Tides does indeed take one on a ride, but one shouldn't expect a lot of wild happenings. Think of it as a rollercoaster ride... but with the seat still warm. That makes many people uncomfortable!