Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Insert witty pirate joke here.

Released in 2006, certified UK-12A. Reviewed on 16 Jul 2006 by Craig Eastman
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Well. This is one of those situations where as a critic you find yourself preparing to bang your head against a brick wall. Would I recommend you rush out and see Dead Man's Chest? No I would not. Are you going to anyway? But of course. If you want a quick plot synopsis then it's unlikely you've seen the first film, so in the hope that you might be the one person whose soul I can redeem I'm not going to give you one. Suffice to say for those of you who have witnessed the admittedly very good first film, everything here is exactly the same as that installment, only this time around those responsible for the story and script writing have been smoking way too much crack. Or is that Kraken?

If for some reason you watched the first movie and found yourself thinking "You know, the one thing this could use is more plot..." then thanks a bunch, for you've unwittingly unleashed a torrent of exposition that could probably sink a continent if left unchecked. While the first film struggled slightly to pad out it's 2 ? hour runtime with fairly pallid content, Pirates 2 (as I will hence forth call it) heads in quite a different direction, spewing plot strands like silly string in a force ten gale. Chief amongst these is a premise which, rather than setting out to entertain it's audience, seemingly seeks only to provide enough action to tick over nicely while setting the movie up for a second sequel; next year's Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End. That's not being cynical; it's just a fact.

It's also the reason I'd implore anyone with any iota of common sense to avoid this like the plague, since you're effectively committing yourself to that installment too, and with the law of diminishing returns so seldom proven inadequate it's highly unlikely to be worth your while, even though this entry proves to be distracting enough, if a little lengthy. Yes, despite the odds Pirates 2 still manages to be a fun enough distraction, if never quite managing to reach the semi-lofty heights of it's predecessor. There's a certain amount of fun still to be had in Depp's now slightly grinding "Keith Richards" modus operandi, and while Orlando Bloom merely continues to compound the assertion that he simply cannot act worth a shit the rest of the cast manage their duties ably. Hell, even Knightley is afforded some extra depth of character in the last couple of reels that redeems her from mere damsel in distress status, even if she does still look like she could use a good feed.

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The chief concerns I have aren't with the cast, even despite Bill Nighy's disappearance beneath an avalanche of prosthetics and CG tentacles (it's just as well reputable British actors come cheap, eh?), nor are they with the conviction of Gore Verbinski's vision which remains an admirable remit for top flight fun and frolics upon the high seas. Rather I'm most disappointed by the quality of writing on offer that single-handedly threatens to sink the ship out from under the entire production. Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, both responsible for the entire trilogy, have clearly hit upon the Return Of The King conundrum of having to pace a single story out over several movies. While Peter Jackson succeeded admirably however, this pair of clown shoes have not, and that's quite an achievement when you're writing something from scratch rather than adapting it from a series of monolithic novels.

Of course when you're dealing with this volume of complexity one has to worry about consistency, and this is another area of Pirates 2 that gets my goat. Consider the fact that for most of the film Depp's Sparrow is barely fending off mutiny from his crew, while Bloom has a good attempt at slicing him up in a couple of swordfights and Knightley sets him up to be captured/eaten by the gigantic Kraken. Come his eventual imprisonment (the nature of which I struggle to hold back from divulging just to ruin your fun) it's these same people who swear their allegiance and set out to risk their lives in bringing him back in the next movie. Eh? More has most definitely been bitten off here than can be chewed, the only outcome of interest from which is waiting to see how Pirates 3 ties things up.

Now, while I may have dozed off for about half an hour of it I still feel justified in my appraisal, since I was able to reconstitute the missing section of movie by extrapolating crossover elements from the first movie (kind of like a PAR set for the mind, all you internet techies out there), and in any event simply imagining what might have happened inbetween bouts of consciousness proves infinitely more accomplished than the actual movie itself. While I can't bring myself to embrace Pirates 2, like staring into the eyes of a puppy before delivering a powerful drop-kick I find myself unable to deliver the coup de gr?ce, for in it's own way it does prove entertaining, if massively flawed. My opinion counts for owt, however, as you know you're going to see it anyway. Just don't try and pretend you loved it when afterwards you secretly agree with me.

Gore Verbinski
Cast list:
Johnny "I Used To Be Method, Me" Depp (Capt. Jack Sparrow)
Keira "I'd Be Hot If I didn't Keep Sicking My Dinner Up" Knightley (Elizabeth Swan)
Orlando "I'm Just Shit. No, Really..." Bloom (Will Turner)