Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
by Andrew Soeldner
July 8, 2006
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest was a great movie and the entire FirstShowing crew had a blast at the opening. I review the cast and characters, story, directing/style, pro's, con's and overall rating. There is one potential spoiler along with some general storyline tidbits. The spoiler can be highlighted for viewing.
Cast / Characters: I know I have been looking forward to seeing Johnny Depp reprise his role as Captain Jack Sparrow since I saw the first movie in the theater on July 9th, 2003.
The Curse of the Black Pearl was one of his most memorable performances, capturing the audience with his style, bravado and charm. But something was missing from Sparrow in Dead Man's Chest. He just didn't have that edge of likability this time. His character was notably darker, really showing his evil side as he conspires to free his soul from his commitment to Davy Jones.
Only in the last few moments of the film does he show any sort of concern for those around him. I think his performance fit with the direction the story needed to go, but while perhaps advancing the story, it diminished the hero's main attraction, that lovable pirate everyone knew.
Orlando Bloom as Will Turner and Kiera Knightly as Elizabeth Swann both turn in strong performances. Will Turner's back story fleshes out, tying in his long lost father Boot-Strap Bill the the newly introduced crew of Davy Jones.
Some new faces were Tom Hollander as Lord Cutler Beckett, Bill Nighy as (partially) Davy Jones, Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd as Bootstrap Bill and Naomie Harris as Tia Dalma. All these new faces fit very well into the tapestry, and helped draw you in to the depth of the story. Nice to see the return of Geoffry Rush as Captain Barbossa as well! (highlight for potential spoiler)
Story: Jack Sparrow's time seems to be up. He struck a deal with Davy Jones 13 years ago where Davy Jones raised the Black Pearl from the bottom of the ocean and made Jack Sparrow captain for 13 years. When the time was up, Jack would owe Davy Jones his soul.
Will Turner's wedding to Elizabeth Swann is interrupted by Lord Cutler Beckett and his soldiers. Will is sent to find the compass of Jack Sparrow so Lord Beckett can find the Chest of Davy Jones and command the Cracken, a huge sea monster.
In his adventures, Will meets his father, Bootstrap Bill, amongst Davy Jones crew. Will promises to free Bootstrap whatever it takes. With Elizabeth, Will, Norrington and the rest of his crew in tow, Jack races to find Davy Jones chest first and gain the leverage it will take to free himself from his commitment.
Directing / Style: Producer Jerry Bruckheimer definitely brings his taste for epic scale and spare-no-expense sets and effects. Gore Verbinski creates a movie that feels remarkable similar to the original, with great shot selection and epic shooting style. In the Editing department, I feel some scenes went on a little long, while others could have been included to assist the story development. I think I picked up on some lines that were in the trailer / teaser that ended up changing in the final cut. I will have to watch it again to verify.
The movie scores a homerun in the envrionment section, creating three very distinct settings. The most used is the bright ocean / island battles. They are rich with ocean blue and jungle green. The two secondary settings are the towns of Tortuga and the "river" where we meet the Voodoo woman Tia Dalma. I always like to see three distinct palettes in an epic movie. Costumes were fantastic again, and Davy Jones and his crew are unparalleled in detail and realism.
Pro's: This movie was filled with appeal. The special effects on Davy Jones and his crew, as well as the action sequences battling the Cracken were some of the best this summer. Johnny Depp's reprisal of Captain Jack Sparrow is simply a joy to watch. Even thorugh there was less light-hearted wit, he still manages to steal every scene he is in.
The plot ends up finding its footing and leaves the audience engaged and attentive as the main characters struggle against seemingly insurmountable odds. There is also the indisputable appeal of a seafaring pirate adventure!
Con's: Important plot points are merely muttered sometimes off handedly. Leaves a bit of work by the audience to put them together. Without reinforcing the important relationships, it is hard to get a solid handle on each characters investment in the outcome. The tongue twister declaration they offer when describing each characters investment in finding the "Key" leaves me wishing I could rewind and make sense of it all.
The situation with the crew being scared into running aground, being captured and Jack being promoted to Deity by the local tribe would have been nice to see. There is such a gap that you really have to sit and remember why they are in the situation they are in. The escape and fight sequences from the tribe and later from the chest island were slightly drawn out, so I think they could have been cut to balance out the introductions to these sequences.
The loss of the lovable charm from Jack Sparrow is missed. Seeing Depp reprise his first role ever, it becomes obvious there is a different feel to the character this time around.
8 / 10 - Overall a great movie. Not quite Black Pearl stature, but highly recommended. Make room in your schedules to see this movie.
50% - 50% Normally this would have received 75/25 were it not for Captain Jack Sparrow's gravity like magnetism for all the females out there. There is simply none sexier this summer, and it shows in the audiences. Perfect date movie!