Johnny Depp is back as Captain Jack Sparrow in the fourth adventure in the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' series, and this time it looks like he's met his match in the form of Penélope Cruz.

With Cruz and director Rob Marshall on board, this instalment of the franchise is sexier and livelier than ever.

Many fans were disappointed with 2007's 'At World's End' - even Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley jumped ship - but I'm happy to report that Depp and Co are back in excellent sword-fighting form.

Doomed to a life at sea, this time around Captain Jack is in search of something we all crave - eternal youth. However, he's not the only one after the legendary Fountain of Youth. Blackbeard (McShane) and his daughter Angelica (Cruz) and half the globe are trying to get their hooks on it too.

First and foremost, Depp has got to be the most talented actor in the business: he just has that sparkle. And in case anyone had forgotten just how compelling he can be as the captain of 'The Black Pearl', we are reminded during an early scene which takes place in a coach with an Academy Award-nominated actress - we don't want to give more away! Depp seems to be enjoying the role more than ever, and that translates into pure movie magic.

Another positive, of course, is Geoffrey Rush as Hector Barbossa, who is now an officer to the King with a peg leg. As the legendary Blackbeard, McShane is dark and menacing - as if he was born to play a pirate. And playing his screen daughter - and one of Jack's past flings - Cruz is strong, charismatic and a good love interest for the Captain. Finally!

As sequels go, 'Pirates...' is breaking the mould. It's fun, adventurous, family friendly and, like Johnny Depp himself, getting better with age!

Janice Butler