1. Despite the many similarities “On Stranger Tides” may share with its swashbuckling predecessors (tons of swordplay, adventure and a rousing score by Hans Zimmer, just to name a few), there are more differences than many moviegoers may realize.
2. The first difference is its source material. The first three movies, “Curse of the Black Pearl,” “Dead Man’s Chest” and “At World’s End,” were original works based on the Disney theme park ride. The fourth installment, however, is a loose adaptation of Tim Powers’ novel “On Stranger Tides,” which involves a voyage to the fountain of youth.
3. Quite possibly the most significant change is in the film’s director. Gore Verbinski was at the helm of the first three, but Rob Marshall (“Chicago,” “Nine”) has taken the reins for the latest film.
4. And with Marshall comes Penelope Cruz, who worked with the director on “Nine.” “On Stranger Tides” also features a cameo from “Nine” co-star Dame Judi Dench.
5. Although the tragic, tentacled villain Davey Jones won’t return for “On Stranger Tides” (at least, that we know of), there will be a slew of new enemies that Jack Sparrow and company will meet on their journey, including mermaids and zombies.
6. Technology also has caught up with Disney’s buccaneers, with the latest installment being shot in 3-D.
7. In addition, “On Stranger Tides” introduces the series to one of the most notorious pirates of all time: Black Beard, as portrayed by Ian McShane (“Deadwood,” “Death Race”).
8. But, for all the things that have changed in “Pirates,” there’s one thing that remains the same: Johnny Depp’s Capt. Jack Sparrow is the face of the franchise. Fans likely will get more than enough Capt. Jack to to satisfy them … for now.
“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” hits theaters Friday, May 20.