By Hillary Busis
Updated May 20, 2011 at 07:20 PM EDT

Avast, land lubbers — are ye wantin’ to use simple mathematical operations to make yerself a fourquel about pirates? Then ye’ve come to the right place! Ye’ll be needin’ two silver chalices, a mermaid’s tear, and the following movies:

1. Begin with a hefty dose of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides hews pretty closely to the formula established by its predecessors. Jack Sparrow and Barbossa butting heads? Check! Elaborately choreographed chase scenes, followed by elaborately choreographed fight scenes? Check! A quest for/journey to a magical object/place that has mysterious properties and powers relating to death and life? Check! Eyeliner thick enough that even a raccoon might think it’s a bit much? Check and mate! Plus, like At World’s End, the newest Pirate tale features a brief appearance by Keith Richards as Captain Jack’s father, Captain Teague.

2. But Pirates 4 also doesn’t have a few things that were present in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, the franchise’s very first film — namely, Orlando Bloom as Will Turner and Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swann. Also, as the previous paragraph might indicate, the new movie is missing the spark of originality and unpredictability that made Black Pearl such an unexpected delight. Even though that’s sort of the way sequels work –to say nothing of fourquels — it’s worth mentioning all the same.

3. Pirates 4 does, however, add one new thing to the franchise’s mythology: mermaids! (Okay, and “zombified” pirate crew members, but they don’t play enough of a role in the story to warrant adding Shaun of the Dead to the equation.) Like Madison, the sexy sea creature played by Daryl Hannah in Splash, the mermaids in the Pirates universe trade their tails for legs when they’re out of the water. And, also like Madison, they’re not averse to engaging in some interspecies romance — or to convincing their human boy-toys to forgo land forever. Yo-ho, yo-ho, a merman’s life for me!

Pirates of the Caribbean

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