Film: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Cover image
Film:

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Series: (Second in series)
Director: Gore Verbinski
Honors:
Genres:
Distributor: Walt Disney Video

Take the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, add a dash of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and a lot more rum. Shake well and you’ll have something resembling Dead Man’s Chest, a bombastic sequel that’s enjoyable as long as you don’t think too hard about it. The film opens with the interrupted wedding of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), both of whom are arrested for aiding in the escape of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in the first film. Their freedom can only be obtained by getting Captain Jack’s compass, which is linked to a key that’s linked to a chest belonging to Davy Jones, an undead pirate with a tentacle face and in possession of a lot of people’s souls. If you’re already confused, don’t worry—plot is definitely not the strong suit of the franchise, as the film excels during its stunt pieces, which are impressively extravagant (in particular a three-way swordfight atop a mill wheel). It may help to know that Dead Man’s Chest was filmed simultaneously with some of Pirates 3, so don’t expect a complete resolution (think more The Empire Strikes Back) or the movie will feel a lot longer than it really is.

Reviews

Amazon.com

Take the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, add a dash of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and a lot more rum. Shake well and you’ll have something resembling Dead Man’s Chest, a bombastic sequel that’s enjoyable as long as you don’t think too hard about it. The film opens with the interrupted wedding of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), both of whom are arrested for aiding in the escape of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in the first film. Their freedom can only be obtained by getting Captain Jack’s compass, which is linked to a key that’s linked to a chest belonging to Davy Jones, an undead pirate with a tentacle face and in possession of a lot of people’s souls. If you’re already confused, don’t worry—plot is definitely not the strong suit of the franchise, as the film excels during its stunt pieces, which are impressively extravagant (in particular a three-way swordfight atop a mill wheel). It may help to know that Dead Man’s Chest was filmed simultaneously with some of Pirates 3, so don’t expect a complete resolution (think more The Empire Strikes Back) or the movie will feel a lot longer than it really is.

Bloom shows a tad bit more brawn this time around, but he’s still every bit as pretty as the tomboyish Knightley. (Seriously, sometimes you think they could swap roles.) Bill Nighy (Love, Actually) weighs in as Davy Jones and Stellan Skarsgård appears as Will’s undead father. But the film still belongs wholly to Depp, who in a reprise of his Oscar-nominated role gets all the belly laughs with a single widened eyeliner-ed gaze. He still runs like a cartoon hen and slurs like Keith Richards—and he’s still one of the most fascinating movie characters in recent history. —Ellen A. Kim

Barnes and Noble

Everybody’s favorite pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow, is back for another rip-roaring adventure that is bigger, wilder, and louder than the original. Trying to describe the insanely dense plot of Dead Man’s Chest would take nearly as long as watching the film, but it involves a long-standing debt Sparrow (Johnny Depp, still deliciously over-the-top) owes to the legendary Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), one that must be paid in eternal servitude aboard his ghost ship. Meanwhile, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) is charged with treason before he can marry Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly), and his only way to escape the noose is to find Sparrow and bring back his compass—a device that can point to more than true north. There’s also a voodoo queen who can resurrect the dead; Turner’s father, Bootstrap Bill (Stellan Skarsgård), who is imprisoned aboard Davy Jones’s ship; a giant, very scary sea monster; and that little matter of a certain dead man’s chest. Nearly every minor character who remained alive after the first film is back for Chest, figuring into convolutions that may have some scrambling to revisit the original just to remember who these people are. Even if you’re scratching your head trying to figure it all out, nothing should stop you from enjoying the film’s many action set-pieces—the most spectacular of which involves cannibals, improvised pole-vaulting, and a swordfight atop a giant water wheel set free from its moorings. The film’s most impressive special effect, however, is Davy Jones, whose squidlike head is entirely computer-generated—yet Nighy’s personality and sad eyes shine through. Filmed simultaneously with the next sequel, Dead Man’s Chest at times conveys the feeling that it’s merely the setup to the upcoming At World’s End, but the charms of the original—playfully morbid humor, swashbuckling action, and Depp’s giddy performance—still enthrall. Bill Pearis

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