The main problem with sequels, particularly those in the middle of an Actual Trilogy (one part then a bigger sequel cut in half) is trying to figure out what it was in the first film that worked, that gave it the boost which made your terrifying opportunity possible. Some filmmakers keep it together (Back To The Future), some completely lose the plot (Matrix, of course).

Gore Verbinski has gotten around this by making Dead Man’s Chest an extended 12″ remix of the first Pirates of the Carribbean film. The fundamental groove remains the same, though it would appear that we may have something of a breakdown on the er, B-Side. The new elements – Voodoo, Cthuhloid monsters, David Schofield as a particularly nasty representative of the East India Trading Company – flourish. And some of the old hooks are polished in the mix (was Jack Davenport really this good as the second villain in the original?). Fights, effects, the central three characters, all build on the original, suggesting that the first step was recognising it as one of the best put-together action films of the last twenty years. A solid foundation, not the sort of thing that you could just chuck, eg, Chow Yun-Fat into and hope for the best. 

In other news, Chow Yun-Fat’s in the next one.