ADVENTURE; 2hr 17min
STARRING: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane
Questward ho! Depp and Cruz
What’s not to love about Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp), who kept his cool through three previous Pirates when everyone around him was losing the plot? The Captain is in fabulous, sword-thrusting fettle in On Stranger Tides, which sees him on a rocky ’n’ rollicking quest for the Fountain of Youth (aren’t we all?). Of course, he’s got company, namely the fiery Angelica (a lusty Cruz), who happens to be the daughter of dastardly pirate Blackbeard (McShane) and who Jack once seduced and ditched, which continues to burn her toast. Jack’s bête noire, peg-legged Hector Barbossa (Rush), meanwhile commands a rival vessel, his flinty sneer and thorny attitude still firmly in place.
What with the morally challenged Blackbeard, his still-seething daughter and a posse of ferocious mermaids, the Captain has his beringed hands full, which he faces with his usual mellow flair. At 137 minutes, it’s quite some chunk of film and while a slimming down wouldn’t have hurt, Chicago director Rob Marshall — on board for the first time — is smart enough to set a steady course, ramp up the skulduggery and allow his star to steal the show.