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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Movie Review

Pirates 2 Misses the Boat

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating

By

Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

© Walt Disney Pictures
The first Pirates of the Caribbean movie took audiences by storm and had kids and adults alike uttering happy arghhhs along with the film’s highly likeable cast. A pirate’s life was tremendously appealing as long as Johnny Depp’s androgynous Captain Jack Sparrow was in charge.

With Depp back for the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Pirates 3, the future couldn’t have looked rosier for both the studio and moviegoers. But the bloom’s off the rose (and not the ‘Orlando’ Bloom; he’s better in Dead Man’s Chest than in the first film) as the sequel takes the wacky world of Disney pirates, tosses in everything including the kitchen sink, and expects audiences to sit through 2 ½ hours (you read that right) of confusing twists and dramatic turns.

There are many different storylines going on in Dead Man’s Chest, none of which amount to a hill of beans if you’re just going to see Captain Jack (which is what will spur most Pirates fans into buying a ticket). Will (Bloom) and Elizabeth’s (Keira Knightley) wedding ceremony is indefinitely postponed when East India Trading Co honcho Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) hauls the would-be bride and groom off to jail for helping with Captain Jack's escape at the end of the first film.

Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean

Even the eyes are computer generated for the Davy Jones creature in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

Photo Credit: Industrial Light & Magic, © Disney Enterprises Inc
Beckett offers Will the chance to save Elizabeth’s life if he can beat Captain Jack to the location of a key which unlocks a chest containing something vitally important to the legendary master of the sea, Davy Jones (Bill Nighy). To find the key, Will must steal the Captain’s broken compass. Following this so far? Captain Jack meanwhile must also locate the key/chest in order to stave off having to turn his soul over to Jones. Davy Jones isn’t a patient man/creature/tentacled thing and wants Captain Jack to pay up immediately – or else he’ll sic the kraken on Jack and his crew.

There’s also a love triangle (or maybe it’s a square) going on with Jack, Will, Elizabeth, and the drunken bum who once called himself Elizabeth’s fiancé, along with the reunion of Will Turner with his dead dad, Bootstrap Bill (Stellan Skarsgard) as well as a couple of visits to a voodoo woman that take place out of the blue.

Johnny Depp’s flamboyant portrayal of Captain Jack was all that was needed to make the first film work – and almost all that's needed to make the second into another huge success. But unfortunately the writers Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott have stuffed Pirates 2 to the gills with every twist and auxiliary character imaginable.

The jailhouse scene from Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean ride (which was recently updated to include characters from the films) enters the picture at least twice. There are multiple attacks by a giant squid-type monster and with the attacks looking the same, there’s absolutely no need for the sequence to be repeated. Davy Jones and his crew of human/sea creature hybrids get a fair share of screen time; the East Indian Trading Company subplot has businessmen looking seedy and the pirates as heroes; and Disney-ish cannibals make an appearance while sword fighting is disappointingly absent except for in one crucial - and comical - scene.

A weird chess game that’s not quite explained (I think the rules changed in the middle of it) interrupts the movie halfway through, and two different types of circular objects with people trapped inside hog the show. Dead Man’s Chest also includes the return of every supporting character from the first film, which means they all have to be given something to do. I could go on but won't. You name it and somehow it winds up in this middle film of the trilogy.

Because it’s so jam-packed full of boring side plots, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest seems to go on for an eternity. Enough already! More Jack, less silly filler material. Chop out everything but the search for a key and the location of a dead man’s chest, and Disney would have had a 90 minute summer blockbuster for the ages. As it is, Pirates will make a ton of money but won’t leave a lasting impression.

Page 2: Final Thoughts and the Film's Grade

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