In a return to the high seas, director Gore Verbinski once again takes the helm (if you'll pardon the all-too-obvious pun) in this sequel to the hugely popular slapstick adventure 'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl'. And it's all pretty much ship-shape, floating along without too many ripples (somebody stop me!).

First up, you should see the first one before you head along to this. '...Dead Man's Chest' could stand alone without flopping but, with a reliance on the back stories of the characters, you'll be left looking around you slightly miffed as other people chuckle.

Everyone's favourite movie oddball Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) is once again neck-high in trouble - courting danger, inviting thrills and always producing spectacularly exciting results. Following on from the happy-ever-after in the first of the series, Elizabeth (Knightley) is set to marry her childhood sweetheart Will (Bloom), but the bewildered young lady is soon left standing at the altar as the rain pours down, ruining what should have been her wedding day.

Will has been arrested for assisting a criminal, one Captain Jack Sparrow. To add insult to injury, Cutler Beckett (Hollander) also has Elizabeth seized, as a conspirator. The penalty for their crime: death by hanging. The only way out: to retrieve the broken compass of said Mr Sparrow, who just happens to be on another of his wild quests.

So Will sets sail in search of the often elusive Captain Sparrow, who, meanwhile, has had an encounter of the other worldly kind with the ghost of Will's father Bootstrap Bill (Skarsgard) - leading him to go in search of the Dead Man's Chest, which contains unusual treasure, to say the least.

But no mission would be complete without a rival crew, vying for same hidden treasure. Bring on the aquatic monsters under the leadership of Davy Jones (Nighy). These characters are great if you, like the director, don't believe in half measures. They are vile looking things, complete with octopus heads, claw hands and all kinds of weird quirks - even Scottish accents. They're no match for the zombies of the first film but are entertaining nonetheless.

The adventures take our heroes to a seemingly deserted island. They soon find out otherwise as Jack plays his cards right and installs himself as the leader of the cannibal island tribe for some of the funniest scenes of the movie (hats off to the makeup department here too). Cue some daft-but-funny fight and escape scenes, as Depp camps it up, Bloom works wonders with his silver sword and Knightley sulks for all she's worth.

Nobody does off-the-wall like Johnny Depp does. He appears to really relish the craziness, yet wicked intelligence, of Captain Jack Sparrow, donning the pirate robes with much flair once again. Bloom and Knightley take a considerable back seat in this one – never quite injecting the same passion into their roles as Depp does - but perhaps forced into the shadows by the sedate nature of their on-screen going-nowhere relationship. Nighy, however, saves the lulls with his role as the gory sea monster, bent on getting what he wants at any cost.

At times there are too many needless complications and plot twists to allow you to just sprawl and laugh at this - the inclusion of which will perplex you more than the actual plots. But we'll just chalk it down to setting up a fuller picture for the third instalment, which was filmed back-to-back with '...Dead Man's Chest'.

If you liked the '...The Curse of the Black Pearl', you'll most likely enjoy this nearly as much. With the novelty factor sent off to sea, there are still enough one-liners, over-the-top action and screwball characters to hold this together for its lengthy duration.

Linda McGee