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Jack Sparrow returns in this new Pirates of the Caribbean spin-off which finally discards of Keira Knightley and Mr Bloom to focus on Depp's very own adventure on the search for the Fountain of Youth. Director Gore Verbinski is replaced by Rob Marshall so this looked set to be a very different movie indeed.

Well, different in an...exactly the same sort of way...

To be fair you've got new faces: Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, some mermaid, some priest... But even they feel familiar. The priest/mermaid lovey-dovey stuff is pure Keira/Orlando nonsense, McShane's Black Beard stands in for Bill Nighy's Davy Jones and Cruz is a 3 dimensional version of a tougher Keira Knightley we've seen in the previous Pirates movie.

Story-wise, you've got no less than 4 teams of people (pirates, Spanish people, Barbossa...) all hunting down the Fountain of MacGuffins but of course there's plenty of double-crosses, magic and pointless rules on the way. Why one can't simply dip a cup in the Fountain and drink from it is beyond me. No, you've got 2 cups, one needs the tear of a mermaid, and one takes life while the other gives the years from the other person...that is if you can find Ponce de Leon's corpse, his boat, steal from the Spanish, get the map...

It's a bit of an unnecessary mindf***.

That said, the whole thing is pretty entertaining from start to finish, just as fun and ridiculous as the last two films. The core premise is pretty straightforward, though, so we avoid the general messiness of At World's End. Your enjoyment of On Stranger Tides will essentially depend on whether the last two films did it for you or not. If you hated Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, you'll hate this one. If, like me, you enjoyed the ridiculously engaging overblown silliness of it all, you'll enjoy it. It's more of the same...but kinda different.

You've got a good, intimidating new villain, killer mermaids, Jack on a one-man-show, less cheese, more focus. With a little more action, less pointless rules, less kid-friendly winks to the camera and more...pirates this could have been really good. As it stands, it's not the first one but is definitely on a par with Dead Man's Chest: fun, occasionally random,'s not bad at all.

Like I said, it'll depend on your approach to the last two movies. I, for one, do recommend it.

Just don't expect something too different, savvy?

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