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Sailing With Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Published July 7, 2006 in Movie Reviews
By Ryan Parsons | Image property of Disney.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
The big question that will be asked repeatedly over the weekend is whether or not Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is better than the original. Though the film will be the most fun you have this summer and does feature more action than the first installment, it is missing a bit of that spit and polish. Well, maybe just the polish.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Review

Let me begin by saying that middle films are hard to do. After finding a treasure chest with the original Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney immediately greenlit not one but two films to be shot back to back. By doing so Dead Man's Chest became not just another set of adventures with Jack, Elizabeth and Will, but a gap that works to connect the first film to the third; due out next summer.

When middle films succeed not only are they box office hits but they get praised by both the fans and (most) critics -- take Spider-Man 2 and Empire Strikes Back for example. Dead Man's Chest tries its best to deliver a film as well written as the original but ends up with something similar to The Two Towers. Instead of taking us on a full blown adventure we instead wait for three amazing action sequences. Sure, there was some great dialogue in between, but not up to the level of the original.

Another thing that bothered me was Johnny Depp. Though most are praising his return as Jack Sparrow, he looked as if he was trying harder this time around; have fun with it!

Elizabeth (Knightley) and Will (Bloom) both return still in love, though Jack Sparrow could create a little bit of a love triangle or lover's quarrel by the third film. Something I was not all that convinced by, though I appreciated the effort to show off Jack's ability to subconsciously impress the ladies.

By the end of the film I found that there were three major issues that will convince most moviegoers that the original was better. First, the original made a pirate's life seem fun and glorious while Dead Man's Chest makes it seem gritty and dirty. Second, the pacing of the film is not entirely smooth with Gore Verbinski hoping for the audience's forgiveness by delivering some kick-ass, and fun, action sequences during three large windows. Yes, the pace drops severely in between the action/adventure sequences, but thankfully these same sequences are extremely long. Hell, the last hour of the film delivers non-stop action full of cool special effects and small jokes along the way. The final issue is the volatile relationship between Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. When the original film ended, moviegoers were left with the impression that all three were good friends at heart and shared some sort of loyalty. Dead Man's Chest tests the binds of that loyalty by convincing us that these three can't dare trust one another. Only at the end of the film do we get a sense of any true feelings for our hero Jack Sparrow.

Disney returns with a brand new, and beautiful, opening logo and, as they promised, delivered the most fun movie you are bound to see this summer and possibly this year. The only problem is that the film has so much fun that there are very few moments where you find yourself grabbing your seat convinced that any of the main characters are in peril. Some of the smaller characters, which make a glorious return from the original, do a nice job of avoiding cliché’s and, surprisingly, stick to who they were from the original. Can we please have a character arc on at least some of these people?

I know, I am being overly critical of the film and I mean to be. The only threat Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest faces is Star Wars size expectations. The film is still a great ride no doubt, and hopefully my picking it apart will allow you to enjoy it even more.


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Sources: Image property of Disney.

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