Director: Rob Marshall
Cast: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Geoffrey Rush
Plot: Captain Jack Sparrow is back. This time he is forced by his former lover Angelica to join her father Blackbeard on a quest for the Fountain of Youth, while being pursued by Jack's former nemesis Barbossa, who has an axe to grind with Blackbeard.
Review: I had read numerous reviews before going into this film, most of them saying that the Pirates series is tiresome and Jack Sparrow is done and boring to watch. I'll admit that I didn't like the idea of them making a fourth film after the super bloated At World's End, thinking that the ship has sailed and we ought to just quit while we're ahead.
But thankfully, On Stranger Tides turned out to be better than I thought. We have Jack, we have Barbossa, we have a great villain in Ian McShane and some nice new additions to the series, like zombie crewmen, black magic, and best of all: mermaids.
Director Rob Marshall takes over from Gore Verbinski and pretty much follows the same formula: put Jack in a sticky situation and watch him lie and dance and fight his way out of it. Scriptwriters Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio improve on their script this time around by not making it too complicated and let the characters drive the story forward, thereby making the experience less of a headache for the audience.
Depp is once again in his element as the charming Jack Sparrow, looking like he hasn't missed a beat, while Geoffrey Rush is still as sinister as ever in the role of Barbossa. Depp and Rush still have their camaraderie from the previous films intact, which is always good. Penelope Cruz makes a good foil for Jack as Angelica, sharing some nice chemistry with Depp and manages to hold her own. McShane as always is perfect as the villain Blackbeard, looking like he can do this role in his sleep. Also cool to see is the returning Kevin R. McNally as Jack's first mate, Gibbs.
However, this film still suffers from being a tad too long, like the previous instalments. Plus, the subplot featuring a young clergyman on Blackbeard's ship falling in love with one of the mermaids wasn't really necessary. But overall I loved this film, not just because of Jack, but also because of Marshall's successful retention of the Pirates films' vibe and feel. The mermaids were pretty cool to watch, them being gorgeous and deadly simultaneously. Hans Zimmer's familiar theme is still fun to listen to as the closing credits start running. What can I say, I had a blast.
I do think that Curse Of The Black Pearl is still more fun, but On Stranger Tides is very much a worthy addition to the franchise. (4/5)
P.S: Stay till the end credits finish rolling for one last scene.