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PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST (PG-13) (2006)

Disney Studios

Official Site

Director: Gore Verbinski

Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer

Written by: Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio

Cast: Orlando Bloom, Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley

Rating:


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!).

—Duncan Wright

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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