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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)

aka: Pirates of the Caribbean 2
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 2 hrs., 30 mins.
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  • Review by Trent Russi
    Rating: 6.0

    Disney, Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, and Director Gore Verbinski team up once again to bring us another chapter in the theme-ride turned movie Pirates of the Caribbean. The plot brings the marriage of Will Turner (Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Knightley) to a halt when then are arrested for helping a certain Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) in the previous film. There saving grace will be if either of them can obtain a certain possession of Sparrow's that keeps with him at all times. Meanwhile we discover that Sparrow owes his soul and servitude to the infamous and mythical Davy Jones. The plot twists and turns around sea monsters, a swamp witch, cannibals, and of course lots of pirates.

    The film is very fun, and has lots of laughs and thrills. However, it has many weak points.

    Expectations

    I went into this film with lots of mixed expectations. First off, there's the ever present sequel curse: nothing lives up to the original. I had to question the reason for making such a sequel (or more correctly, a trilogy). Was it for money? Of course. Was it some overwhelming desire continue an artistic vision? I don't know about that. It seems to me that the first film was relatively complete with little left unanswered. However, its amazing success left little doubt in my mind, in the age of sequels, that Dead Man's Chest would be made (not to mention the first film having its own subtitle was a little suspicious).

    The critics also left a hodgepodge of opinions. The positives general praised it for the shear entertainment value, and the negatives listed its choppy plot.

    With lots of expectations I honestly didn't know what to expect out this film. So I went in with a casual demeanor. I bought a ridiculously large soda, and settled into a center chair.

    Spring Board

    This movie is not much more than a spring board for Pirates of the Caribbean: 3. While this leaves Dead Man's Chest feeling rather starved of point, it is done so well, that I left the theater wanting to see the next film right now. This film sets up many different conflicts. There are conflicts in trying to reach various goals, and conflicts between characters. But are they resolved? No. Almost nothing is resolved. The point of the movie is to set up conflict and let the characters swash-buckle attempts as resolution and in the process set up more conflicts. Ultimately, this movie cannot stand on its own. It has no purpose without the next film. Much like Matrix: Reloaded and Matrix: Revolution, or Kill Bill: Vol 1 and Vol 2, I expect that Pirates 2 and 3 are simply one film cut in half. However, unlike the other examples Dead Man's Chest seem to lack its own climax.

    Lackluster Sparrow?

    Much of the anticipation of this film is seeing Johnny Depp reprise his role as Captain Jack Sparrow. Clearly the character is one of the main reasons the first film did so well. As far as acting is concerned, I would say Johnny Depp did splendidly. That's it and that's all. I would also agree with Anthony Breznican assessment that people are watching this film to watch see Jack Sparrow, not Johnny Depp. So what of the desired captain?

    Well, he is still fun. He's still a backstabbing pirate, with maybe a hint of a heart buried somewhere in there. And of course, he's still quirky. But I'm not sure that Sparrow worked for me this time. His quirky speech seemed less quirky. His prancing seemed more out of place. He seemed to be missing some of his sparkle. But maybe the sparkle was sacrificed for depth. While we see that Jack Sparrow may have more sides than we thought in this film, we also discover very little about these other sides. For example, the movie explicitly states that Jack "doesn't know what he wants." What this means is left for the next film, but it places a psychological twist on Jack. Jack Sparrow was a more believable character in this film, but possibly at the sacrifice of some fun.

    Still Fun

    Looking back, I seemed to have not many positive things to say about this film. However, it still is fun. Great special effects. Lots of action, adventure, and comedy. Ultimately, I would recommend you see the film. Just go in with a casual demeanor. Buy some popcorn, and sit back. It will leave with desire to see the next film, and leave you entertained.

    My final thought is: Pirates 3 better deliver.