Ahoy, matey! Captain Jack Sparrow is back! And that be all you need to ken, savvy?
With the reputation that the brand has, movie-goers are certain to crowd theatres to catch another glimpse of the quirky pirate and his beads. However, If you expect the grandeur, the excitement, and the sheer audacity that the first 3 movies possessed, then you are in for disappointment. Gore Verbinski, the director of the previous films, has big shoes, and Rob Marshall cannot fill them. In fact, he does not even try.
This time, Jack Sparrow is a part of a mission to find the Fountain of Youth. It all begins when a couple of fishermen 'catch' in their nets a man who has a journal that he claims holds the secret to the Fountain of Youth. Before you can say 'Black Pearl', three groups embark on a quest to get to this magical place. The British Regent sends Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who is now a wig-wearing, one-legged, respectable privateer, to get there before the rest.
Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) accosts an imposter, who turns out to be a former lover, Angelica (Penelope Cruz); and joins her crew of bumbling, idiotic men, and a few 'zombie-fied' Quarter Masters, to become a part of the quest. What he does not know is that Angelica's father, the dreaded voodoo-man Blackbeard (Ian McShane) is the captain of this ship, The Revenge of Queen Anne. Then there are the Spaniards, who have their own reasons for wanting to get to the Fountain of Youth.
And so begins a chase to the finish. Jack meets his match in the manipulative Angelica, but confesses to Gibbs (Kevin McNally) at some point that she was the only one who evoked 'stirrings' in him. Angelica has imprisoned a clergyman, Philip (Sam Claflin), because she wants her father to be redeemed in the eyes of God. Needless to say, it is a lost cause. Blackbeard and Barbossa have a date with fate, and it is only a matter of time before one loses to the other.
And then there are the mermaids. This may be a Disney movie, but there is nothing Ariel-like in these sirens of the sea. They sing to sailors, and entice them into the water, where they feast on their flesh. A mermaid is critical to the success of the mission, and so Blackbeard's team capture one after a fight involving men, fishing nets, mermaids, and seaweed ropes. Not too predictably, Philip falls in love with the captured mermaid, Serena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), and tries his best to keep her safe.
Johnny Depp sleepwalks through the movie, which is what his character is all about, really. He mumbles more than usual, and is the sole saving grace of this lacklustre flick. Needless to say, he has all the funny lines. However, the signature slaps he received in the previous 3 movies are sorely missed in this one.
Geoffrey Rush is back as the intimidating Barbossa, as opposed to the clownish one in the previous movie. He is menacing enough, but falls short of making you quake in fear. Keith Richards as the senior Sparrow makes more of an impact in his three-minute appearance. Ian McShane is no Davy Jones, but he creates an impact.
Penelope Cruz does not add to production design. All she does is heave her bosom and curse in Spanish. While the chemistry between Depp and Cruz was electric in Blow, in this movie, there is not much to write home about.
The biggest letdown is the screenplay. It leaves a lot to be desired, and the plot is anything but gripping. There is no chattering monkey, no Orlando Bloom, no Kiera Knightley, no stupid sailors, and no charm in Jack Sparrow. The effects are insipid, the opulence is missing, and the absence of the Black Pearl makes this less of an adventure.
This one's only for die-hard Johhny Depp / Jack Sparrow fans.