Jerry Bruckheimer's latest attempt to recreate the Pirates of the Caribbean formula is an intriguing affair. Not as woeful as the second or third Pirates films, yet lacking the magic of the first.
However, it does have a lot going for it. Get past the fact that it's clearly based on a video game in which the hero spends most of his time running and jumping from buildings, columns and other assorted high up areas and you're faced with some awkward dialogue between Jake Gyllenhaal (well buffed) and the mesmerising Gemma Arterton, who is like some grown up pouty radiant petulant 19-year-old; all attitude and mystique.
Ben Kingsley may as well walk around the movie with villain tattooed on his forehead, even before our eponymous hero realises his relation is more dubious than Lord Dubious of Dubiousville.
Best of all is Alfred Molina as the obligatory crafty sort who tries to kill our hero, then helps him out and strangely vanishes toward the end of the third act.
(A scene involving an organised ostrich race looks like a demted version of some Bernie Clifton sketch).
The movie looks gorgeous. The craftspeople in Morocco and in Blighty did a superb job spending Disney's money on lavish sets and costumes, so some will spend more time looking at them than the actors who are sold short by an often yawnsome script.
Alas, the movie also suffers from some tired scenes which look like they were lifted from Carry On Up The Khyber: he crashes into a harem at one point, much to the interest of the gathered lovelies, none of whom do anything other than coo and giggle. Women in harem scenes rarely do anything else. See also Monty Python and the Holy Grail as Michael Palin happens upon assorted gorgeous ladies in a castle.
More of Molina's organic dialogue and appeal would have helped POP:SOT no end. However, it's still good fun for all the family and check out the compelling if rather short making of doc on the DVD bonus features.