“The Pirates of the Caribbean” series has now elevated itself into rarefied company where the story itself is of lesser importance than the star turn and adherence to the conventions which the story embodies. It has become a Piratical James Bond. ”On Stranger Tides” proves to be an enjoyable and entertaining instalment in this series without ever troubling classic status.
Johnny Depp IS Captain Jack Sparrow and without Orlando Bloom or Keira Knightley the focus is even more upon him this time. Neither of the latter two are missed, Penelope Cruz is an excellent new love interest as Angelica Malon, the only criticism is that we do not see enough of her, in both senses of the phrase. Her pregnancy during filming probably explains this.
The opening 15 minutes in London is by far the strongest sequence as Captain jack impersonates a Judge, is arrested himself, inevitably escapes and then tries to round up a crew and a ship to search for the Fountain of Eternal Youth. Richard Griffiths plays a wonderfully louche King George, and when Jack encounters his Dad, Captain Teague played by Keith Richards in an Inn, you are just begging one or the other to pick up a mandolin from one of the musicians!
Geoffrey Rush has a rewarding part as Barbossa gone straight with a letter of Marque from the King, Ian McShane is a little reserved as Blackbeard. The CGI sequences are used more sparingly this time around, and the film is all the better for it, a “mermaid attack” being the highlight. Directed by Rob Marshall of “nine” fame this is the first instalment not directed by Gore Verbinski, and he acquits himself well.The climax, the race for the Fountain of Youth, is for me a bit of an anti-climax and lacks dramatic tension, and the running time at 2hr 20min is a little long, but Depp’s performance keeps things alive and leaves us wanting more – as if there won’t be!