PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST
***1/2 (out of 5)
July 6, 2006
Johnny Depp as JACK SPARROW
Orlando Bloom as WILL TURNER
Keira Knightley as ELIZABETH SWANN
Jack Davenport as NORRINGTON
Bill Nighy as DAVY JONES
Jonathan Pryce as GOVERNOR WEATHERBY SWANN
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
BY KEVIN CARR
I remember a time in movies when science fiction could do no wrong, and everything else kinda flopped. However, after the success of such films as “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” “Harry Potter” and “The Lord of the Rings,” science fiction is no longer the king. In fact, if you listen to industry buzz, with the exception of the “Star Wars” films, science fiction has been more of a burden than anything else.
Now, Hollywood is churning out period piece action flicks. They’re still spending as much money on these films as they have on science fiction, but the focus is different. The latest flick in this line of pseudo-historical style thrillers is “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.”
This sequel to the 2003 blockbuster is somewhat rare to find in movies – it actually keeps the same team from the first film. Historically, sequels have often had problems because while they have some of the same cast, they often have a different director, producer, etc.
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” reunites the cast of Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. It also has director Gore Verbinski on board to give it the same flavor of the original film.
To a certain degree, this new “Pirates” movie suffers from another problem that sequels have – to keep a storyline going with characters whose plots have been wrapped up already. Indeed, the first “Pirates” film pretty much put an end to the story and led into the “happily ever after” life of the characters.
In “Dead Man’s Chest,” Will Turner (Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Knightley) have their “happily ever after” life interrupted by an arrest warrant. The two are thrown into jail and are sentenced to death for helping Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) escape in the previous film. The only hope is to have Will track down Jack and bring a mysterious compass he carries back to the head of the East Indian Trading Company.
Meanwhile, Captain Jack is also being pursued by a shady past. It seems that he has been running from the cursed Davy Jones (the one with the locker, not the Monkee) and his horribly enchanted crew. Jones (Bill Nighy) and his crew have been slowly transforming into monsters of the deep as they travel the seas, controlling the most powerful force below – the dreaded Kraken.
Like the first film, “Dead Man’s Chest” is very much a showpiece for Johnny Depp. It is clearly his movie, providing him with the funniest lines, the best on-camera moments and the most chance to shine. That’s not a bad thing, considering his supporting actor is Orlando Bloom, who has never quite figured out how to carry a film himself.
Bloom is given a lesser part, but at least he isn’t as whiney and wimpy as he was in the previous film. Still, he really only has the acting chops to play the pretty boy romantic lead. Keira Knightly, while very fetching, is pretty much expendable in the movie. She seems to have been kept around mostly to keep the cast intact rather than being a major force in the plot.
However, what is going to bring most people out to see this movie is the action, the stunts, the special effects and the story. The first three in this list are top of the line. There are several extended action scenes that are as thrilling as anything you’ll see this summer. There’s also some astounding special effects, mostly when the Kraken comes from the depth of the ocean or when Davy Jones and his crew are on screen. Fortunately, there are plenty of times when the filmmakers chose practical effects over CGI to make things more realistic.
Then there’s the story. It’s pretty decent, as far as sequels go. And, like many sequels as of late, it leads into a third movie that is due out next summer. There are moments that bogged down for me, and with a 150-minute running time, the film is a bit long. However, it’s not unbearable by any means.
However, keep in mind that, like its predecessor, “Dead Man’s Chest” fully earns its PG-13 rating and may not be appropriate for younger kids. Much of the violence is masked with humor, and even gets too cheeky at times. But overall, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” hits its mark as a summer blockbuster, and is likely to be the last event film of the summer as we move into the doldrums of late-July/early-August.