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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides movie poster

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: Movie Review

Genre: Action, Adventure
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: Rob Marshall

Starring: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Ian McShane, Geoffrey Rush, Sam Clafin, Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey
Released by: Walt Disney Pictures

In Short: Johnny Depp continues to charm in this fourth take on Captain Jack Sparrow and his pirate adventures, but nothing compares to the first of this now long-running film franchise.

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"Pirates 4" Takes Another Sip of the Fountain of Youth

There aren't many movie franchises that can sustain more than two sequels before fans begin to tire of the characters or the conceit, but since Johnny Depp is arguably the most popular actor on the planet right now, he and "Pirates of the Caribbean" producer Jerry Bruckheimer just keep going back to the well with their astonishingly lucrative swashbuckling franchise. Actually, they've headed to the fountain this time, as Depp's rogue pirate Captain Jack Sparrow searches for Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth in the fourth film, known formally as "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" or more familiarly as "Pirates 4."

The adventure comedy is an almost complete re-boot of the franchise, with only Depp and Geoffrey Rush returning from the original core cast. Keira Knightley is gone, replaced by Penelope Cruz, who (as always) brings a fiery Latina tinge to her role as Sparrow's possible true love; and Ian McShane is her father, the notorious pirate Blackbeard.

Johnny Depp and Penélope Cruz in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Ian McShane in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

The plot is much simpler than the second and third films in the series. With "Chicago" director Rob Marshall at the helm, this ship sails a more coherent route, although there are still the inevitable moments when the storyline is on pretty shaky ground. But with Depp's continuing charm in the leading role, a scary take on mermaids that will leave younger viewers with nightmares and enough lively action sequences to make moviegoers gloss over the obvious plot holes, this latest iteration of the franchise that began so winningly in 2003 seems destined to help the show go on forever.

In fact, the producers have already planned the next two, due out in 2013 and 2014, and why not? The first three films earned well over $300 million each at the U.S. box office alone, and the cash just seems to be guaranteed to keep rolling in with this one and beyond. It seems certain, for just as long as Depp is willing to keep on snapping in the gold teeth, braiding his hair and walking that slightly wobbly walk all the way to the bank to fill his pirate chests with gold.

Reviewed by Jenny Peters

(Updated: 05/19/11 CT)

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