At first, I thought I wouldn’t have much to say about PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST. Odd, that. Especially considering that this is a movie I’ve been waiting for since that freaky pirate monkey unleashed its last bit o’trouble at the end of the first installment’s credits. This movie does such a seamless job of transitioning from the first that it all feels like very familiar territory that I’ve gone over before, and I was prepared to write a three-sentence review.
But before we get into the big stuff, here’s a mini spoiler-free review for those of you who wish to remain pure in your viewing experience. Three things you might want to know:
1. It’s very enjoyable, with one particularly amazing action sequence involving a wheel and swords.
2. It’s dark and violent, so you might want to leave the kiddies at home until you can see it first.
3. Stay until the ending credits have rolled! Like the first movie, this one has a bonus scene at the end. It’s not as important as the first film’s exclamation mark, but it’s amusing nonetheless.
Now, here come some minor spoilers, so tune out now if you don’t want to carry my mark!
Still here? Good. There’s almost non-stop adventure in this film; as a matter of fact, there came a point when I was mentally exhausted and had to tune out for a bit. That ties into the fact that there are also some phenomenal CGI special effects, and my eyes were taking in so much that they needed a rest, too. I think I was actually visually nauseous, if that makes sense, and you’ll know exactly what I mean when the camera is feasting on Davy Jones, his ship, and his crew. The character of Jones might even be distracting: I found myself so in awe of his rendering that I stopped following the story for a bit. And there’s a lot of story to follow, believe me.
Heck, maybe that’s another reason I thought I wouldn’t have much to say about the movie at first. Although the sumptuous details and clever jokes are still around to deliver a rounded experience, I didn’t feel as close to the characters this time out—the plot was king. In THE BLACK PEARL, I could just about feel the unrequited love between Will and Elizabeth; here, the emotion flatlines a bit between them and, in fact, between everyone. For instance, Will Turner’s arc concerns his father in this movie, but there’s never, ever a moment when I felt that they’re glad to see each other after all these years, even under tragic circumstances; I never saw that Will had more than a perfunctory reason for wanting to find the MacGuffin, er, the Dead Man’s Chest that would save his dad. And there’s a moment for Elizabeth that completely made her dead to me. Yes, it’s a great, great plot device and it actually serves her arc well, but she does something that’s so awful it devastates both Captain Jack and Will. I’m only saying that, in the third movie, I hope Will dumps her ass and Captain Jack makes her answer for what she did.
But those are small complaints in the scheme of things. I still laughed during this movie, not as much as during the BLACK PEARL, yet there’s wonderful character continuity and in-jokes. And the stuntwork…my god. Incredible. (Did I mention the sword-and-wheel sequence? Awesome.) Also, Norrington, the poor snot who was dumped by Elizabeth in the first movie, shows up again, and he’s a gem who really adds some gleam to the festivities.
Of course, I need not say all that much about Johnny Depp’s Sparrow. Hilarious, as always. I thought Orlando Bloom brought Will Turner some maturity and looking at him for two-and-a-half hours is always a lovely experience—especially when he’s swashbuckling.
So go, eat lots of pirate popcorn and have a great time. There’s a fun cliffhanger that promises another smooth transition into the third movie and a bunch of good times waiting to be had….