Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me! Oh wait, they sang
that song in the last movie. What about that loveable bit where
the dog has the keys… hmm that was the first one too. Well,
I’m sure if they just add a barroom brawl in Tortuga it will
add some resemblance to that ride in that place that I don’t
really care about because I’m 23 and I’d have to pay
my own way.
Welcome to the first installment of the second Pirates
movie. What does that mean? Well, somebody somewhere thought that
a successful movie could have a child (a sequel). Hell, sometimes
the original movie became a grandparent, great-grandparent, or maybe
even a great-great-grandparent. Then along came the money-making
trilogy, and again someone got the bright idea to produce twins
from a parent: two movies that follow the first and have separate
(but equal) stories. The children are released to the public a year
apart because the demand needs to gestate between them, maybe even
longer if the first sucked. No amount of wait, however, can save
a sucking third movie (that was to you, Wachowski Brothers).
Dead Man’s Chest is the first of the twins.
I have very fond memories of the first Pirates movie.
I did not once imagine myself seeing it while it was in the theatres,
but one day my sister convinced me to watch the DVD and I’ll
be damned if it wasn’t the best movie about pirates that I
had ever seen. Dead Man’s Chest had the misfortune
of having high expectations from me. It seems that the novelty that
made the first one great could not, by its very nature, be repeated
to make a sequel (or half-sequel) great as well.
Elizabeth Swan (Knightley) sits at what was to
be her wedding ceremony. She is soaked and morose as the sky weeps
for her tragedy. A most unkind agent with authority from the crown
has arrested her betrothed (Bloom), and will arrest
her as well for the crime of aiding a fugitive’s (Depp)
escape. Meanwhile, Captain Jack Sparrow suffers a visitation from
a long-dead colleague, now in the service of Davy Jones (the Doctor
Octopus of his day). Jack must pay his debt to the demon of the
deep. Apparently, the Black Pearl was traded to Sparrow for his
very soul, and his time has run out. Worse yet, the clarity has
fled his mind, and he cannot focus his mojo to use the compass that
points to his greatest desire (apparently it’s not just a
broken compass). He needs a key to the chest that holds the one
weakness of Davy Jones, and he has no way of finding it. All in
all, it’s a very dark story…with many non-important
people dying—on camera—in the meantime.
There’s a lot I left out. There’s a good two and a
half hours in this flick, and it’s almost all plot action.
It’s busy as hell, so we don’t have time for idle comedy
and well-planned action (trademarks of the first Pirates).
On top of that, they wasted a good 30 minutes on a pointless escape
from a horde of cannibal natives. So already we’re missing
a goodly portion of what made the first great. After that, we have
a stylistic issue with the new mojo they’ve introduced in
this one. I think I might just be nit-picking, but the magic that
surrounds Davy Jones seems a little thin. Whereas the Curse
Of The Black Pearl had powerful roots in historical atrocities,
Davy Jones is rooted entirely in sea mythology. As such, the villain
seems more silly and fantastical than he does accursed and villainous.
The rest of my judgement will be saved for the last installment
in the Pirates “trilogy.” They could make a
good third movie and blow me completely away. That would be sweet.
After all, I tasted portions of the greatness of the first movie.
They could still have that “magic” and bring it all
home in the third. This could all be build up to an epic crescendo.
Or it could flop. (I’M LOOKING AT YOU WACHOWSKI BROTHERS!).