We were looking forward to Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides for the usual reasons - Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow, pirates, swashbuckling, etc. I was looking forward for one more reason, "Suggested by Tim Power's On Stranger Tides".
When Philip K. Dick (who's every novel and short story will soon be a movie) lived in LA, he was friends with three young authors: K.W. Jeter, James Blaylock and Tim Powers. They are all great writers, who, among other things, invented the genre of steampunk. Powers has a great trick of weaving high myth, low folklore and history. In Last Call for instance, he mixes the Grail legend with the gamblers' superstition in Las Vegas. In The Stress of Her Regard, he shows that the Romantic poets were vampiric succubi. In On Stranger Tides, he has Blackbeard the pirate searching for the Fountain of Youth with the aid of voodoo.
One clever bit in Tides is the the sailors' tale of Mate Carry-For, a spirit who is always willing to help a sailor out. But his true name turns out to be Maitre Carrefour - the Master of the Crossroads, voodoo god Papa Legba.
Now, very little of this cleverness gets into PotC: OST. Basically, nothing but the phrase "Blackbeard the pirate searching for the Fountain of Youth with the aid of voodoo". Considering the amount of voodoo in previous movies, there was very little here. Basically, two zombies and one voodoo doll.
Also, considering Blackbeard is the most awesome of all pirates, known for sticking lit fuses in his hair and beard, Ian MacShane's Blackbeard is not as scary as could be hoped. He does let his beard smolder a bit, but that's pretty much all.
It seems that the new director, Rob Marshall, felt that he couldn't go bigger than the previous movies, so he toned it down. However, we don't have a sensitive character-driven movie here. It is still a big rowdy adventure. Even dialed back, there is plenty of room for fights, chases, capers and fun.
One thing this has going for it is the lack of Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley. Great actors in good roles, but they had become a bit drippy. Let's face it, people come for Capt. Sparrow.
We get him in spades - acting loopy, setting off without a plan, meeting his dad (Keef!) and an old love, played by Penelope Cruz. She's great in this, as you might expect.
The look of the film is great, also as expected. If you liked the others, you should like this. It doesn't top them, but should be a good foundation for another trilogy.