Now was the time when the stretching begins - trying to extract every last ounce from a popular franchise. Everybody does it: Resident Evil, X-Men and even Indiana Jones, after a couple of decades. But not everybody does it right. Walt Disney surely did.
The change in Directors is evident - this film resembles National Treasure and the Indy Jones franchises much more than it resembles its own predecessors, because more than character development it single-mindedly focuses on the light at the end of the tunnel, called the 'Fountain of Youth'. The best characters of the franchise have been retained while those which bored have been replaced with spunkier ones. I never liked Orlando Bloom, and absolutely loved watching Penelope instead. Poor Keira Knightley became collateral damage, tied as she was with Bloom.
Storywise, the film tracks Jack Sparrow's expedition(eeks! there should be a 'Captain' before Jack... Sorry Mate :P) to the fountain of youth, which promises eternal life to the one who drinks from a certain silver chalice with a mermaid's tear - the catch being that the fountain is only a facilitator, requiring another person needs to donate life drinking water from an identical chalice. Captain Jack meets the dreaded Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) again, who has now become a Private in the King's army after losing both the Black Pearl and a leg in a fight with Blackbeard(Ian McShane). Blackbeard is incidentally an actual English pirate who ruled the seas in the 1700s.
In typical fashion, Johnny Depp steals the show again, what with his fancy one liners and eccentric behaviour. Apart from getting the best lines, he also gets a lot more action since Bloom is absent, and he surely doesn't disappoint. Penelope (looking as ravishing as ever :) ) plays a lovelorn girl and loyal daughter with much more conviction than she plays a Pirate, and I must say that she had done a better dacoit act in Bandidas. She starts with a spunky fight but loses track afterwards.
The film begins drearily, as the first hour is devoted to developing the story. The audience is no stranger to Depp's antics and is thus only mildly amused when he tries to surprise, as that is expected. The fun actually starts with an encounter with the beautiful yet sly mermaid and doesn't stop ever after. Watching the previous instalments is rightly not a pre-requisite, and the movie will appeal to even those viewers who are being introduced to Sparrow for the first time. At 2 hours plus, it is a tad long and could have done with a little snipping in the first half. And yes, the 3D as usual takes away more than it gives to the film. The cinematography is breathtaking, with truly beautiful locales.
Watch it for sure: its quality cinema and entertains the friggin' hell out of ye !