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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Jack Davenport, Bill Nighy

Directed by: Gore Verbinski

Produced by: Bruce Hendricks, Mike Stenson, Chad Oman

Written by: Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio

Distributor: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution


Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in Walt Disney Pictures' Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Kevin McNally and Keira Knightley in Walt Disney Pictures' Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Orlando Bloom as Will Turner in Walt Disney Pictures' Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

     2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl may have been a sprawling motion picture, but it never even came close to reaching the level of incoherency maintained by its two-and-a-half-hour sequel, Dead Man’s Chest. For the most part, I liked the original film, whatever its inconsistencies; it contained sweeping action scenes and fresh, hilarious comedy from the outrageous funnyman Johnny Depp. Its follow-up is just as all-over-the-place but nowhere near as cohesive a movie; most of Dead Man’s Chest’s clever material is either stretched out into far too long a segment or simply a reiteration of what made The Curse of the Black Pearl so enjoyable. Not to mention, for at least half of its duration, I didn’t have a clue what was going on in the plot. To a certain extent, I was able to recognize certain neat elements that this film has to offer, mainly in the form of special effects, but never did my admiration for its content extend beyond a thought to myself saying “hey, that looks pretty cool.”

     Speaking of the special effects, it’s hard to deny that Pirates 2 is a visual knock-out. From the CGI-tentacles on the infamous character Davy Jones’ face to the grand appearance of a giant sea-monster that the characters battle, each frame of the film is a real treat for the eyes. However, viewers’ amazement in the look of Dead Man’s Chest will be countered by their frustration in its WTF-ridden storyline. I’m not sure if it was screenwriters Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio’s script that led to the general incomprehensibleness of the film or if the real problem lies in Gore Verbinski’s messy direction but, whatever the reason, the events that occur in the story are almost impossible to logically piece together into a whole. Not that audiences will care enough about the once-likeable characters to work to try to decipher what actually happens in Dead Man’s Chest; all of the identifiable originality that brought the cast to life in The Curse of the Black Pearl seems stale and tired this time around. Even the before-irresistible antics of Depp’s Jack Sparrow seem dated.

     Speaking as what I would call a “casual fan” of the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, I hope that this second-entry in the series merely represents a rough patch in the tales of Depp’s Sparrow, Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner, and Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Swann. While its refined look may be deserving of several aesthetic-related Oscars come winter, its overall entertainment-value doesn’t even rival some of the most average of this summer’s other blockbusters. Still, I haven’t lost faith in the previously-proven talents of the cast and crew just yet. Perhaps the now-signed Keith Richards will be able to boost their morale and artistic-palettes playing Sparrow’s father and, with any luck, bring some life back to the franchise in its third installment. Dead Man’s Chest may not be able to offer the soundest of voyages to moviegoers, but due to its already-immense box-office success, it is certain that the Pirates will surely have many chances left to wail bigger, bolder, and more interesting yo-hos.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews (7.17.2006)

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