Rashid Irani's review: Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Floundering in familiar waters 

Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Direction: Rob Marshall
Cast: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz
Rating: ***

Anchors aweigh! Everyone’s favourite seagoing scoundrel, Captain Jack Sparrow, sets sail again to attempt a fourth assault on the global box office records. Sorry to say, but the latest installment of the Pirates saga — the first of the series to be filmed in 3D — lacks the breezy charm of the original 2003 aqua adventure or its two follow-ups.

Reprising his most famous role, Johnny Depp puts the trinkets-festooned wig back on, dabs a thick coat of eyeliner and buckles his swash in search for the fabled source of eternal youth.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides kicks off excitingly enough. The lovable scalawag is chased through the streets of early 18th century London by minions of King George (Richard Griffiths, in rollicking form).

Joining forces with his former paramour (Cruz), the duo embark on a mission-near-impossible that pits them against Sparrow’s old nemesis (Geoffrey Rush, delightful as ever) and a sadistic new arch-villain (Ian McShane, sufficiently sinister). Predictably, the couple emerges unscathed from the mucho mayhem to at least ensure a fifth film, if not yet more, in the franchise.

Interestingly, the blockbuster series changes director for the first time. Rob Marshall (Chicago) takes over the helm, choreographing the slam-bang-thud hi-jinks efficiently. The romantic sub-plot from the previous three movies involving Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom has been jettisoned.  Otherwise things are much the same what with constant displays of hair-breadth escapes from the clutches of mutineers, buccaneer zombies and seductive-scary mermaids.

In addition, there are a couple of perfunctory cameos by Judi Dench and rock music icon Keith Richards. With its rather lengthy running time of 135 minutes ...On Stranger Tides is worth wandering into only if you’re in the mood for a crowd-pleasing spectacle.


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