Movie Reviews

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Rating: 9 out of 10
Movie Details: View here

Cast:
Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow
Orlando Bloom as Will Turner
Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swann
Bill Nighy as Davy Jones
Stellan Skarsgård as 'Bootstrap' Bill Turner
Jack Davenport as Commodore James Norrington
Kevin McNally as Joshamee Gibbs
Naomie Harris as Tia Dalma
Jonathan Pryce as Governor Weatherby Swann
Mackenzie Crook as Ragetti
Tom Hollander as Lord Cutler Beckett
Lee Arenberg as Pintel
David Bailie as Cotton
Anthony Patricio as Cannibal
Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa

Summary:
If you liked the first film, then you should enjoy "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." A great performance by Johnny Depp and a great villain in Davy Jones make this a perfect summer popcorn flick.

Story:
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" is the sequel to the 2003 film "The Curse of the Black Pearl."

Sometime after the first film, Captain Jack Sparrow desperately looks for a special key. Little does his crew know, but Sparrow owes a debt to Davy Jones, the supernatural ruler of the seas. He's looking for the key as a way to get out of having to pay his debt. However, the crew figures out their predicament soon enough as the octopus-faced Jones and his creepy crew chase Sparrow down.

Davy Jones isn't the only one looking for our shady Captain. After having been arrested by the British government for aiding in the escape of Sparrow, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann are blackmailed into helping track down the Captain. Lord Cutler Beckett forces them to find Sparrow and obtain a magical compass from him in exchange for pardons. But who will find Sparrow first?

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of adventure violence, including frightening images.

What Worked:
Simply put, if you liked the first "Pirates of the Caribbean" film, you're probably going to enjoy the sequel. It has everything that made the first film so much fun. You have fantastic swordfights, creepy bad guys created with stunning special effects, romance, drama, comedy, and Captain Jack Sparrow in top form. (The first film is also required viewing. You won't follow what's going on in this sequel if you didn't see its predecessor.)

I've heard this referred to as "The Empire Strikes Back" of the "Pirates" series and that's a pretty accurate description. Captain Jack Sparrow has that rogue's charm like Han Solo, Will Turner is like Luke, and Elizabeth comes across a lot like Princess Leia. The heroes of both films separate and go on different adventures. And among other similarities, both movies end with big cliffhangers.

Another similarity is that both movies have a fantastic villain. Davy Jones is destined to be a classic movie bad guy. His look (and that of his henchmen) is utterly stunning. The special effects used for his tentacles are some of the best use of CGI that I've seen in a long time. Jones' tentacles twitch with his mood, he breathes pipe smoke out the sides of his face, and he looks like a true creature from the sea. He's also more than a two-dimensional bad guy. Once or twice you think he might actually relent and have a heart after all, then he does something truly brutal. Davy Jones ends up being one of the highlights of this summer's movies.

That being said, Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow is the true star of this film. Like in the first movie, he absolutely steals every scene he's in as the quirky pirate. I think this is the first time Depp has reprised a role from a previous film and I'm certainly glad he did. From the moment he appears on screen, it's like seeing an old friend again. This time around we get to see even more from him as he struggles between being a despicable pirate and a true hero while stumbling through scenery. This is really Sparrow's film and he doesn't disappoint.

The rest of the cast is good, but like in the previous film they're all in the shadow of Depp as Sparrow. Orlando Bloom gets a fair amount of action as Will Turner. His character also receives an interesting revelation that ups the stakes for him. Keira Knightley is stunning again as Elizabeth Swann. She goes on one particular tirade towards the end of the film that is quite funny, but her final darker moments in the film are what she'll really be remembered for. Stellan Skarsgård has a great cameo as 'Bootstrap' Bill Turner.

"Dead Man's Chest" also features that great mix of comedy and horror that makes these films such a fun thrill ride. In fact, the slapstick is amplified quite a bit this time around. A scene where the pirates face off with some cannibals (incorrectly placed in the Caribbean) features enough physical comedy to make the Three Stooges proud. But thanks to Depp's performance it all seems perfectly natural and you're willing to go along for the ride.

After leaving the music of the first film up to Klaus Badelt, Hans Zimmer jumps back into the spotlight for the sequel. He does a great job and creates an impressive score. Themes for the Kraken and Davy Jones particularly stand out, but the action scenes also feature great reprisals of the original themes.

On a final note, make sure you stay through the end of the film in order to see the final fate of one of the characters. You'll find it well worth staying for no matter how badly you have to go to the bathroom afterwards.

What Didn't Work:
I had no real problem with this film. It was funny, exciting, and a great movie-going experience. If anything, I only have nitpicks. While the vast majority of the effects looked fantastic, some of the Kraken effects weren't quite up to par. Some of the tentacles didn't look quite right while others looked very realistic. And unfortunately the cliffhanger ending is a little bit of a disappointment. The movie doesn't feel like it has any real closure and it ends on a bit of a down note. I also wish they had put a sneak preview of "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" at the end of this film. I wonder if people know there will be a third film coming next year.

The Bottom Line:
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" is yet another great addition to the series. If you liked the first film, you'll enjoy this.

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