(In theaters, July 2006) Hail to the king of the summer, baby: This sequel has everything a blockbuster needs, and maybe even twice that. All of the characters are back, and while it’s hard to focus on the bland Bloom/Knightley lead couple when Johnny Depp keeps stealing the show, everyone gets a good moment this time around. (Even Jack Davenport’s Norrington gets a beefed-up role in this sequel.) The adventure/fantasy aspects of the tale are pumped up, leading to a different atmosphere (one where everyone acknowledges the supernatural from the get-go) but one that is conductive to a succession of thrills. The direction is crisp, the script is tight and the special effects are astonishing even at a time where we think we’ve seen everything. Bill Nighy’s “Davy Jones” has the potential to become a cultural icon and the meshing between his performance and ILM’s special effect team is a huge part of this effectiveness. For the rest, well, what’s left to say? Johnny Depp outshines all of the special effects, Naomie Harris is lovely as Tia Dalma and the film ends up on a fascinating cliffhanger. Don’t miss any opportunity to see the first film shortly before seeing this sequel, as the Elliott/Rossio screen-writing team were able to refer to several events and jokes from the first film.