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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2 stars)

Not as bad as the second two, but still not a touch on the first

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

(12A) tbc mins

The fourth instalment of the supernatural swashbuckler originally based on a Disney fairground ride gets underway with a new storyline that throws overboard the sprawling plot of the previous two bloated sequels. It also ditches many of the series’ supporting characters, most notably Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley’s rather dull lovers, which leaves the way clear to focus on the star of the series, Johnny Depp’s gloriously camp buccaneer Captain Jack Sparrow.

Once again scripted by Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio - but this time loosely based on another source, Tim Powers’ 1987 historical fantasy novel On Stranger Tides - POTC4 has Captain Jack press-ganged into a quest for the fountain of youth, when all the poor pirate really wants is a quiet life about his beloved but eternally estranged ship The Black Pearl. Said quest reunites Sparrow with an old flame, Penélope Cruz’s lady pirate Angelica, whose father turns about to be the pirate all pirates are afraid of, the wizard-captain Edward Teach aka Blackbeard (a nicely cast Ian McShane). Hot on their heels to Caribbean island that hides the magical fountain are a Spanish armada and a British warship dispatched by made King George (great comic turn from Richard Griffiths) and captained by Sparrow’s old adversary Barbossa (unashamed scenery chewer Geoffrey Rush).

Cutting back on the seemingly endless exposition of the previous two-part tale, losing half an hour of (over) running time, and focusing solely on Captain Jack would appear to be a good course of action to take to correct the failings of the series. But while this partial reboot, now helmed by director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Nine), is clearly aimed at getting back to what made the first film such a delight, POTC4 once gain gets bogged down in unnecessarily lengthy exposition (for what is a pretty simple story) and overwrought special effects set-pieces. Not as bad as the second two films, then, but still not a touch on the first.

General release from Wed 18 May. Special thanks to Omni Vue cinema in Edinburgh.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Trailer

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

  • 2 stars
  • 2011
  • US
  • 136 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Rob Marshall
  • Cast: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane, Kevin McNally

Depp revives the dashing Captain Sparrow for a fourth time as he embarks upon a quest for the elusive fountain of youth.

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