Disney, Peter Mountain
Johnny Depp, left, and Penelope Cruz are shown in a scene from, "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides."

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES ★★★ Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Geoffrey Rush; PG-13 (intense sequences of action/adventure violence, some frightening images and some sensuality/innuendo); area theaters

Think of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” as a drink of fresh, cool water. Like from a fountain.

Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann are happily married (sort of) while Davy Jones and the East India Trading Company have been eliminated.

It’s time for Capt. Jack Sparrow to embark on a new adventure and carry the show for a cast that includes a few new characters. But rest assured, this movie is fun and worth the price of admission.

The story begins with a couple of fishermen catching a corpse that comes to life and hauntingly says the name, “Ponce de Leon.” Suddenly, everyone is out to find a crew and set sail for the fountain of youth.

We find Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in 18th-century London meeting back up with his first mate, Mr. Gibbs (Kevin McNally). Mix in a series of unexpected turns and suddenly Jack learns that someone is using his identity to recruit sailors for a journey across deep waters. This rogue pirate turns out to be Jack’s old flame, Angelica (Penelope Cruz), sporting facial hair. A sword fight ensues and she eventually knocks Sparrow out. Unfortunately, their backstory is never revealed.

When witty Jack awakes, he is aboard the infamous Queen Anne’s Revenge, the enchanted ship of Angelica’s father, the dread pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), who has a smoldering beard. After an unsuccessful mutiny, Sparrow learns his job is to guide Blackbeard and his zombie officers to the fountain of youth or die.

Their charted course includes confrontations with pirate-turned-royal privateer Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). How he came back to life at the end of “Dead Man’s Chest” is still a mystery. A crew of sailors from Spain is also pursing the treasure. They all have different motives for wanting to reach the water of eternal life.

Between a carriage chase scene, a voodoo doll and the murderous mermaid/vampire scene, this movie gets style points for fast-paced action and creativity.

Depp carries the movie almost single-handedly with his hilarious one-liners. Rush complements Depp well and at times almost steals the show.

Blackbeard is one bad dude. There were some moments in the film when Blackbeard is no doubt the cruelest pirate of all-time, but there are other parts when he seems disinterested. Dabbling in black magic, he does a decent job as the pirate version of Voldemort.

Depp and Cruz have good chemistry, and by the way the story ends there is clearly a plan in place for a fifth installment of the franchise. (And yes, there is something funny at the end of the credits.)

The show is greatly enhanced by 3D graphics. Watch out for Blackbeard's rustic sword plunging into your popcorn bucket.

“On Stranger Tides” is the best of the four pirate flicks. Audiences will walk the plank to see this film, which should be one of the best of the summer.

“Pirates” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action/adventure violence, some frightening images, some sensuality/innuendo.

3 points for parents

  1. Sex and nudity alert: Aside from the harmless sparks between Depp and Cruz (nothing worth covering the eyes), the mermaids are topless, but upper bodies are veiled by long hair and strategically placed camera shots.
  2. Arrr, violence and gore: Warning, there are generous quantities of swashbuckling sword fights and more prolonged fight scenes, and there are very ugly zombies with grotesque features.
  3. Other stuff: There is some mild language and name-calling. And, shocker, the pirates also drink rum.

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