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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (3D)

7/10

Stars: Johnny Depp, PenÚlope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane, Kevin R McNally, Sam Claflin, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Keith Richards, Judi Dench, Richard Griffiths

Director: Rob Marshall

Another dose of action and magical adventure on the seven seas, with charcoal-eyed Capn Jack Sparrow (Depp in energetic form) shanghaied by a woman (Cruz) on board a pirate ship captained by scoundrelly buccaneer Blackbeard (McShane), who turns out to be the girl's father and has his rolling eye set on finding the fabled fountain of youth.

Hot on his tail are half the Spanish Armada, plus a galleon skippered on behalf of his majesty's government by the equally rascally Barbossa (Rush, far from The King's Speech and giving out with many a yo-ho-ho) as, especially with his wooden leg, he channels Long John Silver.

After a ropey start, with a dreadfully indulgent performance by Griffiths as King George the something-or-other, things get moving, with a fast and rousing chase through the streets of London, as Capn Sparrow leaps from one careering coach to another to evade his would-be captors - only to find himself press-ganged and back on the briny.

Apart from a few Indiana Jones-style traps when all and sundry reach the Fountain, principal obstacle on the course is a shoal of vampire mermaids, one of whom (Berges-Frisbey) is attracted to an earnest preacher (handsome and competent newcomer Claflin) aboard the galleon.

Despite his dialogue being tough to follow, Depp shows renewed enthusiasm for the franchise, which is only marred in this segment by an over-bombastic music score which could have been thrown overboard without lessening the thrills and spills. It's certainly an improvement on episodes two and three.

David Quinlan

USA 2011. UK Distributor: Walt Disney. Colour by deluxe.
138 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 14 May 2011