I cannot deny that I am a fan of the first Pirates Of The Caribbean (POTC) film: the foppish, fey and pantomime-esque performance of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow carried a fairly average story that has all the ingredients of a good ‘Sunday Afternoon Film’. The boy got the girl, the hero saved the day and the bad guys were admonished and, at worst, killed. But as further instalments were added to this burgeoning franchise, POTC became more tepid and banal with every outing.
‘On Stranger Tides’ does absolutely nothing to buck this trend with its blandest and most brain-dead offering yet. Admittedly, we are not treated to Orlando Bloom’s puzzled expressions (or is that how emotional turmoil / needing the bathroom is expressed?) nor Keira Knightly’s shrill and mawkish screams while spending the majority of her time with faeces smeared over her top lip. But even without these key influencing factors, we are still treated to another insipid and empty episode of expertly-choreographed fight scenes, heaving bosoms, a treasure trove of clichés and probably a pirate’s portion of buckles being swashed.
The storyline involves various parties racing to the fabled ‘Fountain of Youth’; more Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade than Cannonball Run in ships. Jack Sparrow finds himself part of Blackbeard’s crew (Ian McShane, light years from his Deadwood days), who is seeking the fountain while Jack fawns over the first mate, and alleged daughter of the Captain, Penelope Cruz. Geoffrey Rush returns as Captain Barbarossa, this time with a ship and crew supplied by the British, commissioned to find the fountain before the Spanish.
That’s it, nothing more.
Imagine some sword fighting and you can work out the rest for yourself in something that feels very much like a 120 minute-plus trailer. There are some exceptions; Geoffrey Rush has his moments, Keith Richards (playing Jack Sparrow’s father) gets a good line involving the state of his face and the fountain, and the mermaids are enjoyable albeit without many boob glimpses. But overall this film should be avoided as the overcooked and limp offering it is.