PotC: On Stranger Tides brings back Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and Gibbs, Sparrow's long-suffering mate (Kevin McNally), adding a new cast of characters including Ian McShane as "Blackbeard, the pirate all other pirates fear," and Penelope Cruz as his daughter, Angelica. Add to this a mixture of scruffy pirates, imperious Spaniards, sinister voodoo men, and man-eating mermaids, and you have a typical, but fun, Pirates thrill ride. The first portion of the movie is almost entirely composed of one fight or chase after another, glued together with just enough plot to keep it together. Once the parties get started on the three-way race to the Fountain of Youth (foreshadowed at the end of "PotC:At World's End") the movie settles down into a bit more sedate storytelling, allowing the audience to enjoy both the fantastic setting and the special effects.
Depp, Rush, and McNally give us what we have come to expect: the feckless but lucky Sparrow, leering Barbossa, and stalwart Gibbs. McShane as Blackbeard is a more human version of Davy Jones, set not on being evil just for the sake of it, but on avoiding the prophecy of his true death. Cruz is Blackbeard's long-lost daughter, who appears to have conceived a feeling for her parent far fonder than that she has for Sparrow, her one-time seducer. A nice little sub-plot is allowed to develop involving Philip (Sam Clafin), the good man Blackbeard keeps around to torment, and "Syrena", the young mermaid captured by Blackbeard. There are enjoyable cameos by Richard ("Vernon Dursley") Griffiths as a sporting King George II, and by Dame Judi Dench as a lady whose carriage ride is interrupted by the irrepressible Captain Jack, which add to the fun.
If you liked Pirates of the Caribbean 1-3, you'll like number 4. if you didn't--you won't.
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