Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ★★★★

Fuck it, this rules

Great sequel that builds on everything from its predecessor and actually dares to evolve rather than spin in place. Not content to replicate previous success, Dead Man's Chest goes bolder and digs deeper to put its cast of characters through genuine challenges. Where the world in the first one felt neat and tidy and at least somewhat tethered to our reality, here it spills its guts out and expands the elements of macabre fantasy and a predilection with death (literal and figurative) to create something wholly itself.

It's not as tightly wound of a machine as the original but I was surprised this go-around how well all the pieces do end up fitting together if you're willing to go with its excesses. Said excesses were probably responsible for the mixed reception upon release, but the sheer personality baked into each and every frame has made this one particularly distinct. There's simply no mistaking Davy Jones, his crew, and his monstrous pet kraken for something from any other movie. The setpieces feel even more confident in their execution and complexity than before, and the shifting web of motivations, allegiances, schemes and deals remains clear and engaging throughout.

"The world is shrinking. The blank edges of the map filled in."

What we do when faced with the end of our way of life is always what defines us.