Friday Flicks: Is ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Better than Walking the Plank?

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Peter Mountain / Disney / AP

Johnny Depp returns yet again as Captain Jack Sparrow in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"

Grab some popcorn! NewsFeed’s Glen Levy brings you the movies you should check out (or avoid) this weekend.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 

No matter how hard one tries, it’s impossible to take the Pirates franchise seriously, based as it is on a Disney theme park ride. But the inevitable clamor for a fourth edition was strong, especially as the preceding movies took in something in the ballpark of three billion dollars.

And the films continue to do blockbuster business in spite of generally gory reviews (parts two and three were so bad that even main star Johnny Depp wanted nothing to do with them). Previous director Gore (yes, he put the Gore in gory) Verbinski has been replaced by Rob Marshall, more used to getting his kicks out of the likes of Chicago (hello Oscar!) and Nine (hello anyone?) and a return to form seems to be the watchword this time around. Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow (doing his best impression of Keith Richards, who, rather confusingly has embraced the gag so whole-heartedly that he ended up playing Sparrow’s father) gets into a whole manner of scrapes – escaping from agents of the law, the crown, and fellow pirates – before having to serve the feared Blackbeard (Ian McShane, who was far scarier in Deadwood).

Firm fans of the franchise are sure to be kept happy throughout – you may not have Orlando Bloom or Keira Knightley but you’ve got yourself some Geoffrey Rush and Penelope Cruz – and if you do find yourself there against your will, be comforted that at just over two hours, this Pirates is the shortest yet. And if you’re still not convinced, slip on those 3-D glasses and catch 40 winks.

(MORE: See TIME’s full review of Pirates)

Midnight in Paris

It was only a matter of time before France’s unadulterated love for Woody Allen would eventually manifest itself in the auteur‘s work. And so Midnight in Paris isn’t just represented by the title but finds the prolific Allen once again filming in Europe (it’s not just a favorable tax thing, you know). His main man, however, is an American (the latest incarnate of Allen himself) in the form of Owen Wilson, who shows a surprisingly deft comic touch as Gil (and even somehow sounds like Allen), the successful Hollywood screenwriter who just wants to write novels, in Paris s’il vous plaît, where he happens to be on vacation with his fiancée, Inez (Rachel ­McAdams).

In an ideal world, Gil would like nothing more than to not just live in the French capital but at a time of his choosing; specifically the 1920s alongside those heavyweights Hemingway, Porter, Picasso and Cocteau. Well, quelle surprise, can you see where this is headed? The fact that many critics are calling it Allen’s best work in a decade is a backhanded compliment of sorts (NewsFeed has sat through Whatever Works, Cassandra’s Dream and Scoop and is still recovering) but it’s undeniable that his passion for cinema remains undimmed and the world would certainly be a darker place without Woody.

(PHOTOS: Woody Allen’s life and career)

NewsFeed’s Flicks Pick: Enjoy it while it lasts, as they’ll surely be another one along in a minute. But Woody Allen’s next film will surely not be as essential as Midnight in Paris.

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