Written by Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio
Directed by Gore Verbinski
Running Time: 2:30
for intense sequences of adventure violence,
including frightening images.
Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest was a rollicking adventure that lacked the originality of the first, but was still fun.
Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner, who helped Captain Jack Sparrow escape in The Curse of the Black Pearl, are being brought up on conspiracy charges. But they are offered a deal. If Will can get the compass Jack keeps with him at all times, all will be pardoned. Jack, of course, has other ideas. Jack still owes a debt to Davy Jones and repayment of that debt is by means of 100 years of servitude on Jones's boat, The Flying Dutchman. So Jack decides he will track down a chest Jones has buried somewhere. The chest contains something that Jones would like to keep hidden from the rest of the world. The person who controls the chest can control Jones and therefore, take command of the seas. Will wants the chest so he can kill Jones, because Will's father is trapped on the Flying Dutchman. And Elizabeth's old fiance Commander Norrington has his sights set on the chest as well. And of course, Davy Jones isn't going down without a fight. Who will win the race to the Dead Man's Chest?
The Curse of the Black Pearl was a huge surprise hit a few years back so the stakes have been raised for
Dead Man's Chest. But how do you top what was arguably one of the most entertaining movies of the last decade? You probably can't, but what you do do is bring back everything people loved about the first one. Johnny Depp's slightly gay-Keith Richards take on a pirate, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly's good looks and a non-stop adventure filled with great visuals and special effects. But while Dead Man's Chest was certainly a fun movie, there wasn't nearly as much action as the original. It took until around the 100 minute mark before things really started to kick into gear. Before that, there were some action sequences, but for the most part it was all storytelling. And the story can get a little confusing if you don't pay attention. What surprised me, however, was that even at 150 minutes, I never once felt like I was bored. Even though there wasn't a lot of fight scenes or explosions for 2/3 of the movie, the rich visuals and the cast kept me thoroughly entertained.
It's like Depp was born to play Captain Jack. Instead of taking the route of playing him as a hard-nosed pirate who always takes charge and runs full steam ahead, Depp took the bizarre route of playing the character as effeminate and seemingly always drunk. And with Depp's considerable acting chops and winning personality, it worked. He brings all that back in Dead Man's Chest where he can make an audience laugh with a simple look or utterance of the word 'bugger.' When I first read Depp was going to be playing a pirate in a Disney film, I thought the producers had lost their minds, but it turned out to be one of the most brilliant casting decisions in history. The biggest problem with Dead Man's Chest though is that Captain Jack isn't in nearly enough of the movie. There are long stretches where they focus on Will or Elizabeth's story and while that is all well and good, Jack is the true star of the film, and I would have liked to have seen more of him.
Orlando and Keira once again held their own against Jack's overpowering presence on screen. Orlando's character has much more to do this time around, as he is the one who has to track Jack down to get the compass, but also finds another reason to be back on the ocean. We all remember his father, Bootstrap, being talked about in the original, and he comes into play in the sequel, in more ways than one. And Keira's character also has more to do this time around and her feelings may not just be for Will. Taking the role of lead bad guy this time out is Bill Nighy as Davy Jones. In the last film, all the bad guys were cursed pirates who turned into skeletons in the moonlight. This time, all the bad guys are members of Davy Jones's crew on the Flying Dutchman. And their curse is to slowly turn into marine life. It's a pretty interesting group of characters actually. I was impressed at how good they looked and it was hard to tell which ones were actors in makeup and which ones were CGI. Davy Jones was a much more menacing bad guy and rather scary just to look at.
Then there was the downside to the movie. The first film was fresh and new and took audiences by surprise. I certainly wasn't expecting to enjoy myself as much as I did. Nothing new was brought to the table in the sequel. Jack continues his drunken ways, sometimes redeeming himself by showing his moral side, but most of the time looking out only for himself and making wisecracks. The look of the movie, beautiful as always, didn't showcase anything new except for the new bad guys. The special effects were once again top notch, although there is one shot towards the end that looked out of place because you could easily tell it was Depp against a green screen. And the acting/directing was again top of the line. But the lack of action for most of the movie hurts it a little. While there was nothing wrong with telling a story, I would have liked to have seen at least one big set piece towards the beginning of the film. Once they get to the soon-to-be-famous fight on a wheel however, the movie kicks into high gear and doesn't let go till the end. And since we all know part three of this trilogy unspools next summer, the movie doesn't wrap up a lot of story lines and leaves you wanting more.
Like most movies of this scale, watching it on a small screen isn't as exciting as on the big one. However, what I realize I really enjoy about both the Pirate films so far is that it never takes itself seriously. A lot of these big action films always throw in serious story lines which end up slowing down the pace of the movie or just feeling out of place. Here, there are moments of seriousness, but they're always lighthearted. Basically, the movie is very simply, pure entertainment. The two-disc special edition DVD comes with a ton of extras. On the first disc there is a short blooper reel which is OK, along with a commentary track from the writers. The second disc however is where all the magic happens. There are a ton of behind-the-scenes documentaries including production diaries and swordfighting classes with Orlando, Keira and Jack Davenport. We get to see how they created Davy Jones, which I found amazing because I assumed it was mostly a great makeup job, but in reality, it's not. We also get to see how the Kraken came into being and there's a costume featurette on Jack Sparrow where you can go literally down his body and learn every detail about his outfit. There is also footage from the world premiere of the film and a couple other extras. And as an added bonus, there are a limited amount DVDs that come with a cool looking 3-D package on the outside. No question the extras on this DVD make it worth picking up.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest. It could have used more action and more Depp, but for the most part, it was just as entertaining as the original. If you enjoyed the first, you will enjoy the second, and most importantly, it makes you want to come back next summer for more.
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