Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow is a glorious comic creation, but Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a voyage too far for the roguish pirate captain.
Not that it’s hard to see why the Pirates crew set sail once more; the series has coined over $2.6billion at the box office. So it’s back to sea for Jack, press-ganged by sadistic pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane, blustering) into a quest to find the legendary Fountain of Youth.
Old foe Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush, hammy) and enigmatic newcomer Angelica (Penélope Cruz, feisty but lacking the fizz you’d expect from her) are also on board, although former shipmates Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley have wisely jumped ship, as has director Gore Verbinski. Rob Marshall, maker of Chicago and Nine, is now at the helm but fails to chart a steady course. He may be a dab hand at staging musical numbers but he’s all at sea when it comes to directing action.
Surprisingly, he ain’t got rhythm. The fight scenes are all flash, bang, wallop: frenetic yet totally lacking in excitement. As for the plot, which throws in zombies and mermaids for good measure, it’s as wobbly as a drunken sailor. Depp’s saucy charisma just about keeps the film afloat, but on this occasion the Pirates’ treasure chest is empty of cinematic gold.
On general release from 18th May.