2011 Certificate: 12


Ahoy me hearties, Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow is back in troubled waters for the fourth escapade, and this time he has a swashbuckling new wench in tow. The feisty Angelica (Penelope Cruz) is not only Jack's first mate and rival, but daughter to the villainous Blackbeard (Ian McShane), intent on helping her father find the fountain of youth so that he can outlive a fatal curse. Aboard the mighty Queen Anne's Revenge the three set sail, followed closely by the scurvy Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and a Spanish fleet, in a frantic race to get their mitts on the fountain's live-giving waters.


  • Rob Marshall


  • Johnny Depp

  • Penelope Cruz

  • Ian McShane

  • Stephen Graham

  • Geoffrey Rush


The buccaneering fourth instalment opens as Captain Jack hurls himself out of the frying pan and into the fire, escaping a stay at the Tower of London only to find himself amongst a motley crew that answers to none other than the notorious Captain Blackbeard.

It's hard to go wrong with Ye Olde London as a backdrop and the set pieces are magnificent. The opening sequence features the kind of lively comedy of errors Jack is always so good at getting into - and out of - clambering between horse-drawn carriages and swinging off chandeliers, with just enough time left to cheekily steal a sticky bun from the greedy-eyed King George II in the manner of a disheveled 007.

Also aboard Captain Jack's new vessel is Penelope Cruz as Angelica , Blackbeard's daughter, a former would-be nun with a daddy complex, whom Jack once seduced and abandoned.

Ms Knightley may be gone, but naturally her replacement is every bit the fragile fighter and obligatory eye candy in a film that, bar a few angry mermaids, is, yet again, all hot-blooded men.

The cast is as colourful as ever, and, as the action races impressively along, the film mostly manages to convince us that Knightley and Bloom were just along for the ride and that Captain Jack was the real hero all along. Which, let's face it, he was.

Yet again, Barbossa arrives to wreak havoc, this time on behalf of His Majesty King George II, and, as usual, is a gruesome wreck of a man who, though he never seems that fussed about finding the fountain of youth itself, probably needs an injection of youthfulness more than most.

The last Pirates, with its eye-popping production values and absurdly stellar cast, had the most lucrative opening in cinema history, taking £202 million around the world in its first six days of release - and new director Rob Marshall has clearly set sail with the same dollar signs in mind.

Nonetheless, this is a darker, subtler and less congested film than number 3 and is the better for it. At just 2 hours 20 minutes (the last one was a totally unnecessary three hours), it feels well-paced, frivolous and fun.

A youthful revival this film is not. But a slick, swashbuckin' romp though the South Seas with a ship full of familiar scallywags it is.

And shiver me timbers, with one rather important character abandoned tantalisingly on a desert island, I'll scuttle me bones if there's isn't another sequel in the pipeline.

Francesca Steele