It’s a shame then, that no Pirates sequel has been able to capture what made the first film so magical. The first two sequels became over-stuffed with new and returning characters and needlessly overcomplicated plots and mythology. There were reversals, betrayals and counter-betrayals nearly every minute, losing the audience’s compassion for any character whatsoever. With the fourth film, On Stranger Tides, a new director in the shape of Chicago’s Rob Marshall came aboard and the attempt was made to strip the film back: shorten the run-time and simplify the plot mechanics. Now it’s like they’ve gone too far in the opposite direction, stripping out any sense of fun or craft.
The plot involves some guff about the Fountain of Youth. Captain Jack arrives in London, having heard about someone impersonating him to procure a crew. The impersonator turns out to be an old flame, Penelope Cruz’s Angelica, who also happens to be the long lost daughter of the much feared and legendary pirate Blackbeard. Blackbeard has heard of a prophecy regarding his death, which is why he’s heading to the Fountain. And Barbossa is back, this time as a privateer under the auspices of King George. Barbossa is out for revenge on Blackbeard and the English are looking to beat the Spanish, so that’s why he’s heading to the Fountain. The only one with no real motivation to be going to the Fountain… is Jack. Oh, and the Spanish are there for some reason but they barely book-end events and seem to be (yet another) random element thrown in to the mix (they serve, quite literally, absolutely no purpose to the film. None).