This time out, the adventure tracks Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow as he races to find the fountain of youth. Ian 'Lovejoy' McShane makes a suitably fine new foe as ruthless pirate Blackbeard, while Penélope Cruz's Angelica is the feisty ex-flame sending Sparrow into a tizzy. The search for the mythical fountain propels the story across the globe to Spain, London, the high seas and tropical jungles over a hefty 136 minutes. The bloated running time isn't as much of an issue for movie number four as new director Rob Marshall (Chicago) keeps the swashbuckling quick and nimble, stopping the action from getting bogged down into the tedium of Dead Man's Chest and At World's End.
Without Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom, there's a much-needed perspective shift to Captain Jack - the key weapon in the franchise's arsenal. There's no longer the ruthless, dangerous edge about Sparrow that won Depp an Oscar nomination in 2003, he often skims close to self-parody in the role now, but the character is as watchable as ever. The film buckles slightly under a plethora of new characters, particularly the young missionary Philip (Sam Claflin) and his mermaid love interest Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey). They're functional roles serving as plot devices, as a result the duo are marginalised and criminally under-developed. Director Marshall just about steers On Stranger Tides coherently from one giant set piece to another, yet he really makes an impact on a smaller scale with a creepy and brutal mermaid attack on a boat full of pirates. On Stranger Tides may not quite be the spectacular return to form Disney had hoped for, but it's a strong indication that there's life in the old sea dog yet.
> Trailer: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
> Gallery: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
> Pirates of the Caribbean UK premiere: In Pictures
> Interview: Johnny Depp