274 – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Dead Man’s Chest, the middle child in the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy-to-be, really is a lot of fun, if not as wowing as the original. The main story – Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) must come up with 100 souls to satisfy a debt to supernatural Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), while Will (Orlando Bloom) must retrieve Jack’s compass to save Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) from certain death – happily takes center stage, relegating the latter’s romance to second-banana status. And that’s a jolly good thing, too, because if there’s anything to sink this wave-soaring vessel, it’d be a treacly kissy-kissy subplot.

From the outset, bad things are afoot. Jack finds out the time’s come to repay his debt to Jones, who commands a huge kraken to destroy ships. So Jack sets aground on a small island, which unfortunately is the home to a cannibal tribe. It’s okay, though, because they think Jack’s their god, but not so okay when they decide they need to free him from his fleshy existence – by killing and eating his crew.

Will’s sent by the new Lord, Cutler Beckett, to grab Jack’s compass, else Will and Elizabeth will be killed. See, the compass leads to a key, which leads to a chest, the chest of one Davy Jones, and isn’t it nice when the plot kind of comes full circle like that?

I’ve always loved Johnny Depp. This is his first time in which he plays the same character in more than one movie; he’s long been known as a stylish character actor, and the original Pirates made him more of a leading man. His Jack Sparrow is at once iconic and iconoclastic, daring you to like him and root for him despite all evidence to the contrary. Is he a treacherous scoundrel, or will he fight for his friends? Depp is clearly in his element here, making Sparrow his own – I don’t think Disney would be able to find a suitable replacement, should the need arise.

Bloom his more than his equal as Will Turner, which was a bit of a surprise. I liked him in the original, of course, but I thought he was a bit overshadowed by the nuanced Depp performance. Bloom’s Turner here, though, is more commanding and charismatic, idealistic where Sparrow is ambiguous, a powerful performance.

Knightley could have been just another pretty face, pouting and showing off her gleaming choppers, she instead is every bit as towering and rambunctious as her male counterparts, slashing and dashing about in a mad frenzy of catlike grace. Compare her work here to that in Domino, which featured a modicum of violence of its own sort, and it’s a favorable comparison indeed. Where’s the mouselike Knightley I see on red carpets?

The final big star of the movie is the special effects and action scenes, from the massive kraken to sinking boats, from plenty of swordplay to chases through jungles and forests. It’s a true testament to the onscreen magic that while one never stops to think, “How could this possibly happen?” one is also never overwhelmed by the bigness, the spectacle, the exasperating premise that louder is better. But the Whoa factor is in full effect, make no mistake.

Full of spit and verve best suited to an angry pirate, Dead Man’s Chest is full of what The Curse of the Black Pearl gave us. More of the same, in this instance, is well worth it, matey!

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest: ***


One Response to “274 – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”

  1. jennifer courneyea Says:

    pirates of the caribbean 2 was way better than the first. i love the efects and the davy jones people and how well they made them look so real. i like the storyline and how easy the story nis to understand. the actors are brilliant on playing their roles like the first movie. the movie is one that everyone should watch. i recomend this movie to all johnny, orlando or keira fans but i am sure you saw it allready i also recomend this movie to those who are trying to find a good movie to watch but can’t find one. trust me you will like it because if i liked it i am sure you will like it.

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