Monday, 12 September 2011



Stranger but still saavy.

12A, 137 Minutes. Starring: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Ian McShane & Geoffrey Rush. Director: Rob Marshall. Screenplay: Terry Rossio & Ted Elliott

Are you ready to set sail with Captain Jack again? Well prepare yourself for a different course because it's all change on deck. First off Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley have abandoned ship but don't abandon hope as those mates go. There's a new heading and direction and it features zombies and mermaids and of course this franchises classic,charismatic captain; Johnny Depp.

In this fourth installment of the series Captain Jack is once again left asking what happened to his beloved pearl. Still this captain sans ship isn't without more problems. He's a wanted man in London, someones trying to impose on his legend and this time it is him who is pres-ganged to an evil pirates crew. Still at least he's on a ship, albeit captained by vicious pirate Blackbeard (played with heart by 'Lovejoy' Ian McShane) and his daughter and Sparrow's love interest (played by the beautiful Penelope Cruz). On this voyage Blackbeard and Captain Jack are in search for those maidens known as mermaids (though these ones are a far cry from the Disney one that hangs out with crabs, they look more like they've got a bit of 'Twilight' in them) and their years that will help the joys from the fountain of youth pour. Still their not the only ones concerned with looking less like Rod Stewart. The Spanish inquire to, while Captain Barbosa is back-well sort of-he doesn't appear all there as Geoffrey Rush has the opportunity to camp it up even more, looking more like he's keeping royal company by every 'Kings Speech'.

Johnny Depp is once again on top, effortless form as he continues to put Captain Jack Sparrow next to the superheroes as one of cinemas favourite and most popular characters. It's hard not to be moved to laughter by his physical comedy or smile at everything that comes out his mouth. He really does keep this film afloat. As does the great Penelope Cruz, who is an upgrade from Keira Knightley and the old testament of Ian McShane, whose magic sword wielding villain is just as sharp as Bill Nighy's Davey Jones. There is also a dynamic, albeit different supporting cast. While it's great to see Geoffrey Rush firmly back up deck and Keith Richards on hand for another rolling cameo, as is Judi Dench with a great, brief appearance from the Dame.

This film is enjoyably funny and swashbucklingy entertaining with plenty of one-liners and sword-fights to keep you on course. Still the problem with this 'Pirates' franchise is that there have been so many movies it's getting a bit too predictable. If 'Stranger Tides' was the second film instead of the brilliant 'Dead Man's Chest' you may be rocking with the best, but instead this whole brand is in threat of being sunk by the 'seen it all before' notion. Still however this voyage is a very good one even if the other expeditions where more epic. The film still is exciting, enjoyable and the beautiful locations make for one sought after movie. There is even talk of a fifth movie (hey the 'Fast & Furious' did it) but can this franchise raise the flag even more? It all depends on Johnny Depp and how far he's willing to take this ship. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

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