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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
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by David Cornelius

"Yarrr! Lubbers who don't like this sequel must walk the plank! Yo ho!"
5 stars

It’s safe to say that “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” ranks among the decade’s finest surprises. It was a movie nobody thought would amount to much, and so, while no one was looking, director Gore Verbinski nabbed a witty screenplay, assembled a dream cast, and set to work on making a swashbuckler that delivered far more high-quality fun than anyone figured was coming. Now comes the first sequel, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” and the problem is that we can’t be surprised anymore. We’re all watching, waiting to see if the magic can be duplicated; there’s no chance for Verbinski to come out of nowhere with this one. The best this movie can do is meet expectations. The good news, then, is that it meets them splendidly.

“Dead Man’s Chest” is most certainly a worthy sequel, as tightly constructed, expertly filmed, and wonderfully performed as its predecessor. It is also, of course, a whole heap of fun, a most enjoyable ride. (“Ride” being no small word considering the series’ origins as a movie “adaptation” of sorts of the Disney theme park ride; movies based on corporate franchise nothingness have no right being as good as the “Pirates” films are. The trick, then, is to ignore the cash grab origins of the franchise and understand that the filmmakers have risen so far above them that you can’t even see them anymore from where they stand.)

All of our favorites have returned: Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Kiera Knightley) have been arrested for assisting in the escape of our old pal Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). A mysterious representative from the East India Trading Company offers Will a deal - find Sparrow, retrieve his compass, and Will and Elizabeth will be set free. Ah, but Captain Jack’s not so easy to find, and beyond that, he’s not so willing to part with his compass, for that holds an important role in the finding of Davy Jones’ chest.

That’s right, Davy Jones himself appears here, with Bill Nighy offering up a performance mostly hidden behind what seems to be at least fifty pounds of make-up. (Much to Nighy’s credit, that fifty pounds of make-up does nothing to hinder what turns out to be a splendid performance.) You thought Barbossa’s ghost pirates were scary, inventive, and oh so much fun? Wait ’til you get a load of Jones and his crew, an assortment that can best be described as undead sea monster pirates. Jones, cursed to sail the seven seas aboard his Flying Dutchman, is a squid-man; his first mate has the head of a hammerhead shark; all poor souls resigned to spending eternity as part of Jones’ crew find themselves slowly becoming part of the sea. (For one, Stellan Skarsgård - now there’s a great pirate name if ever there was one, arrr! - appears covered in coral, a starfish forever placed on his face.)

There is some nonsense about Jones’ buried chest, and a hidden key, and that magical compass, and what wonderful nonsense it is. This is the stuff of high adventure gone beautifully giddy, the bit about the key and the compass and the chest merely being the MacGuffins that lead our intrepid heroes from thrill to thrill. As with the original film, the action is plenty, with swordplay, chases, barroom brawls (in Tortuga, no less!), battles at sea, escapes from cannibals, and yes, even the classic moment when Will Turner gets to jab his knife into a sail and slide down effortlessly, just the way any self-respecting hero of a pirate movie should get to do at least once.

We get an awful lot of movie in this movie, so to speak - the running time pushes two and a half hours - yet not once does the story drag, nor does it tire out the viewer. We’re consistently swept along for the thrill, safely in the hands of a masterful director who knows how to get the most out of any situation. Verbinski is steadily climbing my list of most dependable filmmakers, and his work on “Dead Man’s Chest” only serves to push him even higher. Here is a director who can effectively juggle comedy, action, and frights, building these expert little moments yet never losing sight of the big picture. “Dead Man’s Chest” is an epic adventure built the way epic adventures should be.

At his side are Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, two more names to trust. They co-wrote the first film and now nab screenwriting duties all for themselves, and what luck to have these two exceptional writers aboard. Anyone can build a series of eye-popping action set pieces, and plenty more can connect them into a workable story. What Elliott and Rossio do is fill in the fine details. And not just in aspects of the plot (which, by the way, flows with the greatest of ease). Just listen to their dialogue: it sings. Captain Jack explains to his first mate how he came to be where he came to be, and he whittles it down most simply: “Complications arose, ensued, were overcome.” This duo has an ear for how Sparrow talks, giving him all the kookiest lines, yet unafraid to shine the spotlight on others as well. (They’re smart enough to not let this sequel become the Jack Sparrow Show; the original worked with Depp’s character as part of a greater whole, and while the temptation must have arose to Fonzie things up and make the most popular character the main focus, Elliott and Rossio stick to what worked before - without, of course, forgetting to keep everything fresh.) Listen to the side banter that occurs between Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook, who return as two bumbling pirate fools. It’s comedy of the sharpest kind.

Back for a moment to Captain Jack. From his glorious arrival to the last time we see him in this movie, we’re reminded that this is one of the greatest of all modern movie characters. There’s something magical in what Depp does in his performance, assisted, of course, by knowing direction and expert writing. Here is a scoundrel and a hero, comic relief in the leading role, and we simply cannot take our eyes off him. For his second time around with the character (a first for the actor, who has never reprised a role before now), Depp reminds us what made Sparrow so amazing last time, yet he never relies on merely repeating himself. (It is, I suppose, all a part of what makes the entirety of “Dead Man’s Chest” work; we get the heart of what worked before without becoming bogged down in rerun.) Captain Jack once again becomes such an amazing, captivating character that perhaps it’s safe to say these performances will be well-loved for years - decades, even - to come.

It all adds up to what becomes a flawless entertainment offering, one as breathtaking as its predecessor. The franchise is two-for-two in a very big way, and if the third film (due next summer) stays on this track, then we’ll be looking at one of the most wonderful of all movie trilogies, grand entertainment that deserves every hearty yo-ho-ho that comes its way. The “Pirates” franchise is about as much fun as you can possibly have at the movies. Arrrrrr!

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14738&reviewer=392
originally posted: 07/06/06 21:23:55
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User Comments

2/23/09 Chris Whoever wrote the review at the top has no idea what they're talking about. 5 stars
1/20/09 Anonymous. the worst of the trilogy, disappointing. :/ 3 stars
1/14/09 Shaun Wallner Depp is a great actor. 5 stars
11/30/08 Roz Not as good as the first. Plot was an absolute mess. 3 stars
11/30/08 noops.... had grt expectations frm this but disappointed... 3 stars
6/01/08 R.W. Welch Overdone, overbroad, and overlong. 2 stars
1/04/08 Pamela White vague plot but effects make it interesting 3 stars
8/12/07 Annonomiss 2nd film of trilogy was SO hokey and Disneyed up. Waste of film. 1 stars
6/16/07 Tiffany Losco awesome, loved it. Johnny depp great sexy 5 stars
5/31/07 Ionicera better than the reviews led me to believe 4 stars
5/24/07 Tracey Chambers good movie, but I was exhausted when it was over 3 stars
5/24/07 runes one way, way too many plotlines...even the dog got a plotline...wack!? 1 stars
5/16/07 carlie beautiful movie!!!! i love piratres of the caribbean !!!! and i have the book!!! super 5 stars
4/26/07 Sharlatan the 1st was wicked wtf happened the dog moment and cage swing ws only good bits nothtfunny 2 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK Twice as long and half as good as the original. thank god that Mr Depp saves the day. 3 stars
1/18/07 movieman great movie 5 stars
1/05/07 Watch This Movie! Very good, had just as much momentum as the first. Entertaining and fun. 5 stars
12/28/06 Samantha Fields I love pirates of the caribbean 1 & 2 , its funny and can be scary !!! 5 stars
12/26/06 Keelie liked it... ending couldve been better but i think it is much clearer now.... 4 stars
12/25/06 bullit16 Seriously? You're kidding, right? 2 stars
12/17/06 Thealizia The scene were they were were fighting on the wheel was over dramatic 2 stars
12/14/06 Charles Tatum On par with the original, Depp steals his scenes again 4 stars
12/07/06 Ron Better than the first 4 stars
12/05/06 Dude Hilarious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 5 stars
11/22/06 Austin Wertman BETTER THAN THE FIRST 5 stars
11/14/06 reena wful, just awful. arbitrary events dont make a good movie... 1 stars
11/13/06 gracie this was th best movie ever. you suck! 5 stars
10/24/06 Drew G Good sequel to a great movie 4 stars
10/16/06 David Very disappointing 2 stars
10/13/06 Helen Cannot be missed! Savvy? 5 stars
9/28/06 ES A movie worse than the first one, now that's quite a feat 1 stars
9/25/06 Kayla I love this movie so much! The first one was better but even that one had its ups and downs 5 stars
9/21/06 JohnnyFaye I love reading peoples far fetched "I hate" reasons for this movie...haha It's a sweetmovie 5 stars
9/20/06 Pritchett The first one sucked and so does this one. 1 stars
9/16/06 ad lengthy 3 stars
9/13/06 Mara Frost Once again, Johnny Depp is great! Also fun stunts and creature makeup. 5 stars
9/12/06 Agent Sands A disappointment, with perhaps 2 entertaining scenes. 3 stars
9/06/06 bosh not really 2 stars
9/04/06 Ricardo very entertaining 5 stars
9/02/06 Christopher Stucky Didn't expect much, but really liked it... just like the first one. 4 stars
9/01/06 van zwaar ...yarr 2 stars
8/23/06 Chad Thomas Johnny Depp is great! 4 stars
8/21/06 G Sherfy Projector died at the end of the movie; I wasn't disappointed to miss the last 5 minutes. 3 stars
8/13/06 George This is movie is kinda lame 3 stars
8/06/06 Vincent Costa Entertaining 3 stars
8/06/06 Erik Van Sant 15 Minutes in and I was wishing I was watching 'Superman Returns' again. Flaccid follow-up. 2 stars
8/04/06 TiGrBaLm Fast paced, action packed, John Sparrow ROCKS 4 stars
8/03/06 sulman mahmood good 4 stars
8/03/06 Sarah W totally awesome johnny depp was great!!!!! 5 stars
8/02/06 Mike V Too long but a lot of fun....It's Depp...enough said. 4 stars
8/01/06 Mase IF you liked the first you will probably like this, if not tedious and boring. 2 stars
7/29/06 ls All the things that made part 1 good are missing. Part 3 is gonna get downloaded 2 stars
7/29/06 Troy M. Grzych Action sequences were too long and drawn out. Visuals were cool. Movie slow. 4 stars
7/29/06 ahnold All visual. No plot. Nothing compelling. What's happened in hollywood? 1 stars
7/27/06 dj way too long!!! And there is no ending!! 2 stars
7/25/06 Quigley an awesome sequel that has some problems, but I ain't complaining. Depp is the man; see it 5 stars
7/24/06 jess Totally awesome! 5 stars
7/24/06 pin transition film, loose and disappointing. Will still see III 3 stars
7/24/06 Joyce Verhoeven For everyone whom has not seen this movie, watch it, because this movie is super 5 stars
7/23/06 malcolm near perfect blend of action/comedy, but really just half a movie 4 stars
7/22/06 Koitus Keira looked great; hard to understand Voodoo woman; suspicious ending! 3 stars
7/22/06 Agent Sands The 2 action sequences on islands were the only good parts of the movie. 3 stars
7/20/06 michaelb1478 a little overlong but still a fun movie 4 stars
7/20/06 Elizabeth S Some clever humorous action, but needs a major edit. 3 stars
7/19/06 ahnold Just another movie w/2 much action and no compelling plot 2 stars
7/19/06 Butt No treasure in this chest 2 stars
7/19/06 Suzz too long; heavy on special effects; lite on with; not enough Depp 3 stars
7/19/06 Ashley It's totally awesome!!! Cannot wait for the 3rd. I love Johnny Depp! 5 stars
7/18/06 Ole Man Bourbon A lot better than I was expecting. Forgettable, but entertaining. 4 stars
7/16/06 Jim Almost as good as the original 4 stars
7/14/06 Evil Wolfie Slightly less good then the first. 4 stars
7/14/06 MP Bartley Overstuffed, disjointed and silly, but still a giddily fun time. 4 stars
7/14/06 robo it does suck quite badly 2 stars
7/13/06 Somebody people who give it less than 5 stars are just too picky! 5 stars
7/13/06 Stanley Thai Better than the first but it's just too long. 4 stars
7/13/06 Nightjorn PIRATES OF THE CRAP-A-BEAN: THE WRATH OF CTHULHU!!!!! 1 stars
7/13/06 inty utter crap 1 stars
7/13/06 EZ I can't wait for the third one!! 5 stars
7/12/06 Agent Sands Way too long, disorganized, too many dead animals. Only 2 good scenes in the whole movie. 3 stars
7/12/06 Dan great movie to see 5 stars
7/12/06 Captain Highcrime Found myself wanting to hear the "Benny Hill" theme during some of sillier set-pieces 3 stars
7/11/06 Vicious Fun over-all, but it seemed to lack focus. 4 stars
7/11/06 JM Synth Some outstanding set-pieces, but Verbinski is yet another director who lacks restraint 3 stars
7/11/06 Roy I loved the first half but then I got bored 3 stars
7/11/06 Kent S Did I see the same film? I'm sorry but I'm frustrated and angry at the "end" of this movie 2 stars
7/10/06 hooplah could have used about 20 minutes of trimming and it'd be about perfect 4 stars
7/10/06 Kaitlin Reynolds I thought it was very long, confusing and hard to keep up with. 3 stars
7/10/06 Mike Fairly boring, way too long. Blah 2 stars
7/10/06 Jean Smolen The sequel was butt numbingly boring! 1 stars
7/10/06 NoRefill Way too long. Needs about an hour cut. Watching the original again might make it funnier. 3 stars
7/09/06 Richard Green Frequently tiresome, not all that funny. 3 stars
7/09/06 Doug Eh. 3 stars
7/09/06 John Doesn't have legs to stand on it's own. 2 stars
7/09/06 Bob No plot, not funny, and about two hours too long 1 stars
7/09/06 Steve-O An over-cooked 2.5 hour setup for what will hopefully be a much more exciting third movie 3 stars
7/09/06 sully needs about1 hour of editing, Johnny Depp 4 stars 4 stars
7/08/06 Mo Better than the first one 5 stars
7/08/06 Jon Gets pretty repetitive an dull 1 stars
7/07/06 Roy Started off great but then I got bored 3 stars
7/07/06 KingNeutron Only movie this year I'll see more than once. STAY4CREDITS 4 stars
7/07/06 Jambi I still can't believe people actually liked the first pile of mediocrity. 2 stars
7/07/06 Gerry Irons Very Silly 2 stars
7/07/06 asina started out weak, but REALLY picked up by the end. 4 stars
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  07-Jul-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 05-Dec-2006

  06-Jul-2006 (12A)

  06-Jul-2006 (M)

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