That's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in a nutshell. There was so much the first three Pirates movies did that was swashbuckling-ly good, with each adventure, each and every threat as epic as the seas they sailed. But when even Penelope Cruz's heaving cleavage staring at you on the big screen isn't enough to hold your attention, what chance does the rest of the movie have?
So there's a search for the legendary Fountain of Youth, with no less than three different groups wanting to get there first: the Spaniards, the British Navy led by Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and Blackbeard (Ian McShane), the pirate all pirates fear, who just happens to have Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in tow. But Jack's got more to worry about than Blackbeard, namely Blackbeard's daughter and Jack's former flame, Angelica (Penelope Cruz).
It's as if the writers admitted they couldn't top the sheer craziness of walking octopus-headed fiends and sailing off the edge of the earth that they decided to go for quantity over quality, piling on so many major players and plot points that it devolved into a meandering mess that even the beautiful yet savage shots of naked mermaids couldn't save. What a loss.
But the biggest loss here is Johnny Depp, whose usually delightful Jack Sparrow has become grating, and is obviously just humoring the director and the writers for the sake of finishing the movie once and for all. The rest of the cast (and there are LOTS of them) mostly stand around wondering what the heck they're supposed to be doing. I could forgive Ian Shane, awesome man that he is, for having little to work with playing a tepid character like Blackbeard, who's supposedly the pirate all pirates fear, but oozes as much fright as a moth ball.
On Stranger Tides had the unfortunate distinction of following a series of movies that have given it all they've got. And all that's left is the stuff scraped from the bottom of an already shallow barrel. I'm pretty easy to please (I loved Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, for goodness sakes) but in spite of the laughs and the awesome moments, the movie died trying to live up to the expectations set by the earlier films., along with my enthusiasm. And that's disappointing.