On Stranger Tides doesn’t clamor quite so loudly for our attention, which is a blessed relief. Still, the picture is cluttered and convoluted and big, and Marshall — taking over the reins from Gore Verbinski — doesn’t seem to grasp how exhausting nonstop action can be. There’s a scuffle, a sword fight or a bit of tumbling or running every five minutes or so, as if Marshall and screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio didn’t trust us to absorb anything so mundane as a simple conversation between two characters.
But at the very least, On Stranger Tides has a good-natured glow about it. And in the midst of its scaled-back yet still excessive visual effects, it does attempt to offer a few silvery flashes of wonder, instead of just thinly veiled latex and computer-enhancements masquerading as magic.