12A – 137mins – Action/Adventure/Fantasy – 18th May 2011

The swashbuckling pirates return in their latest adventure as Disney tries to cash in on older once successful ideas rather than conjure up some new material for our viewing pleasure. On Stranger Tides sees us return to a time after that of the first three films. No longer is the focus on Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan who aren’t included in the cast (neither is the prison dog!!) and whose story is considered to be finished in the third instalment, At World’s End. Instead the story follows Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in his race to find the Fountain of Youth along with several other interested parties.

Jack is joined in this race by Barbossa- (Geoffrey Rush) now a profiteer working for the British Crown, Blackbeard- (Ian McShane) the most feared pirate on the seas along with his first mate Angelica (Penélope Cruz) and the Spanish armada who all want the power of the fountain for themselves. Throughout the quest they overcome challenges, encounter each other, run into mermaids and generally do as pirates do.

The movie gives out a bit of a ‘same old same old’ vibe with Jack elaborately escaping from captivity once again and fighting whilst balancing on wooden beams (distinctly familiar). It may have impressed in the first few films and despite being well executed is becoming decidedly stale as a concept in this one. I also felt that the inclusion of some sub-plots didn’t add anything to the story (the priest/mermaid plot?) but rather detracted from it instead.

Despite this, those who are fans of Captain Jack Sparrow will not be disappointed as it certainly is better than the second and third instalments. Despite this one running it closer, it’s a shame that they’ve never lived up to the original all the while being impervious to becoming box office flops.

The acting was mostly very good with Depp obviously returning to steal the show with his eccentric Sparrow creation but Rush, McShane and even Cruz put in their fair share to make the story believable. Both the set and clothing design departments show off their talents with impressive visuals to lap up and Zimmer’s score does just enough to keep the movie flowing forward.

Overall this will keep you entertained with some good action scenes, comedy and a couple of strong performances but I’m still waiting for the series to return back to the heights of the first film which I don’t think it ever will. There is guaranteed to be a fifth film (with or without Depp) but I feel that this should finally be laid to Davy Jones’ locker while it can still escape with some credibility. Savvy?

Rating: 6.4/10

Ps. Once again I stuck to 2D and the general consensus I’ve got seems to suggest 3D is not quite worth extra pennies yet.

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