A franchise, by definition, relies on a tried and tested formula across multiple narratives, but Pirates of the Caribbean – birthed from a themed ride at Disneyland – takes the Mickey (har har). Rather than coming up with an original idea, the writers borrowed (adapted) a Tim Powers novel called… On Stranger Tides.
How closely the movie follows the book, I can’t say (I’m not a fan of Powers) but it certainly fits the Pirates theme perfectly: pick a mythical destination, pick a fabled creature, a supernatural enemy, and a cameo appearance, then have the protagonists find object(s) in order to reach said mythical destination where a swindle and double cross occurs, but Johnny “Cap’n Jack Sparrow” Depp prevails.
The returning cast and crew phone in their parts, being almost identical to their previous incarnations with nothing new to add – which I’m sorry to say, includes the usually wonderful Hans Zimmer (the music composer). On Stranger Tides looks, feels and sounds so similar to the previous movies that it wouldn’t be fair to say it’s bad, because it would imply that the others were too (and they weren’t).
If you aren’t sick of Johnny Depp doing his Keith Richards impersonation yet (or Keith Richards doing his Johnny Depp impression for that matter), by all means go and see this movie.