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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

The second film in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series released in 2006.

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Captain Jack is Back in this Fun Yet Very Convoluted Sequel

  • Jul 8, 2009
The first Pirates movie was a surprise success.  Grossing more than 300 million at the Box Office and becoming a huge culturual phenomenon.  Hollywood often has a moment where when a movie comes around they need to find a way to capitalize off of it.  The best way to do that is with a sequel.  But Pirates was too big for just one sequel.  So they made two and started filming at the same time.  This usually means that the second film is often nothing more than a bridge to the third.  Because Hollywood likes to make them "big films."  In short, the movie is so big it has to be divided into two parts.  This has been the case with a lot of incredibly popular films.  When it came to Back to the Future, they filmed the sequels at the same time.  The same happened with The Matrix.  The Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed all at once. 

This also means that often one film is fairly forgettable while the other is often surprisingly good.  This is the case with Back to the Future.  The second wasn't bad, but the third was slightly better.  Sometimes you get a moment when all are good, as is the case with Lord of the Rings where each film was better than the last.  But sometimes you get a moment where the sequels just aren't all that memorable at all.  This is the case with The Matrix.  The Pirates of the Caribbean sequels fall somewhere in between.  Neither one touches the first one in the slightest.  More than anything, Dead Man's Chest is always a movie I'm divided on.  I can never decide if it's better or worse than "At World's End."  It's definitely a fun movie, but as is the case with a lot of the middle movies in the trilogy, it really doesn't serve much of any purpose than to get us from the first movie to the third.  But at least it doesn't feel useless in the grand scheme of the story.  It seems like Pirates of the Caribbean greatly used the Star Wars trilogy as a model.  Dead Man's Chest, in some ways has influence from the Star Wars sequel.  But it is still it's own film.  The ending in particular is something you won't see coming. 

The movie begins with Will and Elizabeth getting married.  Well, attempting to.  They are immediately arrested by Lord Beckett of the East India Trade Company for helping Sparrow escape.  But they haven't seen Jack in a while.  So they are arrested.  Afterwards we see that Jack has found himself in a coffin of sorts, and has escaped with a drawing of a key.  He and his crew haven't been on a real hunt for a while.  It seems strange that he'd need to find a drawing of a key.  But worse is that in order to figure out just what Jack was doing in that coffin in the first place, you're forced to play a side story video game.  He finds this drawing of a key so that he may find the key itself. 

What we come to discover is that Jack owes a debt to Davey Jones.  And he is given the Blackspot to remind him of it.  And as a result, Sparrow decides they need to get to land and quickly. 

Lord Beckett gives Will a chance to clear himself and possibly Elizabeth if he agrees to go and get Jack's compass from him.  What would Beckett want with a compass that doesn't point north anyway?  It turns out there's a bigger secret to the compass that we don't really know.  As it turns out, Jack's compass points to anything you want most.  And Beckett wants something. 

Will sets out to find Jack and is eventually led to an island inhabited by Cannibals.  He is reuinted with the crew where Mr. Gibbs informs him that the people of the island think Jack is a God in human form.  And that they believe the only way to set Jack free is to eat him.  It is never really clear how Mr. Gibbs knows this.  Where as the first film often gave explanations (such as how Jack got off that island) this one has no real explanation of how Mr. Gibbs knows.  Has Jack been here before?  Has Mr. Gibbs?  We don't really know, actually.  But it's still curious.  Nevertheless, they do try to rescue Jack in their own way.  And for the most part they succeed, but it's still a little curious that this point of the movie is something of an aside from the real mess at hand.  It's not so much that this cannibal island has nothing to do with the plot as it is that it's quite a lengthy endeavor away from the plot. 

They then find a wrecked ship where Davy Jones has been, and Jack is to face him.  Not in a battle, but in a confrontation.  Jack owes Jones his soul.  In exchange Jack gives over Will and agrees to find Jones 99 souls in three days time. 

Oh, and there's a moment where we watch as Elizabeth escapes her capture.  And she quickly gets onto a ship and tricks the crew into going to Tortuga, where she meets Jack, who is busy rounding up a crew to go and find the chest of Davy Jones... including Norrington who has lost his reputation, and hopes to get it back... which has his heart.  If one stabs the heart then Davy Jones dies (there are other consequences which we don't learn about until the third film which brings up a whole other set of questions later on).  Simple, yes?  Well, sort of. 

As Will is forced to be a part of Davy Jones crew, he is soon reunited with his father and learns just what his real fate was.  There is a nice thing to come of all this, however.  That being Will has time to find where Jones keeps his key, steal it and get off the ship.  He learns, however, that Jones is not quite as forgiving, and that he's incredibly brutal as well.

Meanwhile, thanks to Jack's compass, the location of the chest is known, and they all set off to find it.  It is here when there's a huge reunion that takes place between our three main charaters after being separated for over an hour of the film.  And a big sword fight ensues because, as it turns out, three men want the chest for different reasons.  Will wants it to free his father, Jack wants it for his own personal gain, and Norrington wants it to redeem himself in some way.  It's a fun moment, but again shows that Pirates can never be brief. 

The plot, in and of itself, can be a confusing and convoluted.  We are left with lots of burning questions that we just don't get answered.  Some of them are answered in the third film.  There's also the character of Tia Dalma, who must be mentioned at least once in this review because she later becomes an important character.  The second film doesn't really hint very much at her importance, however. 

Dead Man's Chest is certainly a fun movie, but it's also quite a messy one.  There's so much going on that we need to keep track of.  And it isn't as eloquent or as funny as the first film.  There are lot of nifty inside jokes and references that only those who saw the first film will understand, but it just can't be helped but admit that while this is a fun movie, it just doesn't have the spark that the first one had.  Many characters act strangely different.  Particularly Jack.  I can't put my finger on it, but there are times when he seems like a totally different character.  He doesn't quite give the same witty responses like he did before.  Nor does he show himself to be quite as clever and resourceful.  In fact, the only time when it seemed like the Jack from the first film is actually here is in a moment when he tells Mr. Gibbs to hide the rum upon meeting Elizabeth.  Perhaps because there's not really a moment to do so throughout much of the film.  It's nice that he takes center stage in the story, at least.  As he's a far more interesting character than Will and Elizabeth.

There's a lot going on in the movie, and yet it's still long.  The first film, despite also having a lot going on, was a relatively simple film.  It had a fairly simple and straightforward story.  It's not so straightforward here.  Even worse, is that while it's not so bad in its own right, the story doesn't conclude until the third film.  Yet there's so much thrown in here that we don't really have to take into the third film.  The twists and turns at the end are some really good (and surprising) turn of events that set the stage for the next movie really well.  Though there will be some who will feel the movie is something of a cheapshot that gives us so much only to leave on a cliff hanger.  A way to ensure that you see the next installment. 

It's a fun movie, but sometimes it doesn't feel like it's here for anything other than to make sure we get to the next film in the series.  And even then, while the third film answers questions, it's sad to see that a lot of what happened in the second film can easily be tossed aside.

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More Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead... reviews
Quick Tip by . August 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Jack Sparrow is undoubtedly Depp's most memorable character. It's gonna be hard to beat the swashbuckling captain, even with his unbelievably colorful & diverse array of past film leads.
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
tons of action, the beginning of the problems with the east india trading company. and of course lots and lots of jack sparrow! all the characters grow and change in this one.
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This film did a great job keeping the momentum of the first.
Quick Tip by . December 30, 2009
Even better than the original. More Jack Sparrow, more action, more innuendo with Keira Knightley. Pretty much superior on all levels!!!
review by . November 02, 2008
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
This second in the 'Pirates' series starts out with the arrest of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley) for previously aiding Captain Jack Sparrow (the fantastic Johnny Depp). Will is released on the condition that he brings back Sparrow's compass.     But the search isn't really for the compass, its for the key and the contents of the infamous 'Dead Man's Chest', which supposedly contains the still beating heart of legendary Captain Davy Jones, captain …
review by . November 01, 2008
Jack Sparrow and the Dead Man's Chest   Yo ho ho and a barrel of rum   As sequels go this is one of the best   Yo ho ho and a barrel of rum   It starts with vows that will have to wait   As Beckett scotches a wedding date   And Will entrusts his life to fate   To get an item for the man   Who wants Jack's compass if Will can   Audaciously work out a plan   Yo ho ho and a barrel of rum     Jack …
review by . May 15, 2007
POTC2 received bad reviews from critics, yet fans loved it; as witnessed by the huge ticket sales both in the US and overseas. It was the highest grossing movie of 2006, the most anticipated sequel of that year, and counter to what many critics claimed, a unique movie unto itself. The first POTC was a great action-adventure flick, with scenes of situational comedy spliced in. However, the action and the comedy were usually kept separate. POTC2 is different in this respect; the comedy is inherent …
review by . January 05, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
When I saw the first film in this series, I had fairly low expectations and mainly went to see Johnny Depp. The film exceeded my expectations in a number of ways, and was quite fun to watch. While this film is obviously more expensive, and has many more expensive "set pieces" it is much more like what I had expected from the first film: basically a roller coaster ride with a few amusing things to look at and a couple of semi-predictable moments where you get submerged in darkness and are whooshed …
review by . December 19, 2006
Dead Man's Chest is definitely not a bad film, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed a little. It's always tough to create sequels to successful blockbusters and have them live up to originals name. The first "Pirates" film had a rare charm that most other Hollywood pictures would envy. Fantastic characters, a great story, amazing special effects, and an all-around "fun" feel. It's not hard to understand why it became so popular. On paper, nothing really seems wrong with Dead Man's Chest. …
review by . December 07, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
'Pirates Of The Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest' is but the second installment (the third has already been shot) in the series of movies based on a Disneyland ride: strange nidus for a story idea and one that takes a bit of patience to sit through, but a fun evening nevertheless. Though the first installment took the audience by surprise with the character of Jack Sparrow so inimitably portrayed by the gifted Johnny Depp and therefore served as a tastier treat, this second installment substitutes sea-dead …
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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Take the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, add a dash of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and a lot more rum. Shake well and you'll have something resembling Dead Man's Chest, a bombastic sequel that's enjoyable as long as you don't think too hard about it. The film opens with the interrupted wedding of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), both of whom are arrested for aiding in the escape of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in the first film. Their freedom can only be obtained by getting Captain Jack's compass, which is linked to a key that's linked to a chest belonging to Davy Jones, an undead pirate with a tentacle face and in possession of a lot of people's souls. If you're already confused, don't worry--plot is definitely not the strong suit of the franchise, as the film excels during its stunt pieces, which are impressively extravagant (in particular a three-way swordfight atop a mill wheel). It may help to know that Dead Man's Chest was filmed simultaneously with some of Pirates 3, so don't expect a complete resolution (think more The Empire Strikes Back) or the movie will feel a lot longer than it really is.

Bloom shows a tad bit more brawn this time around, but he's still every bit as pretty as the tomboyish Knightley. (Seriously, sometimes you think they could swap roles.) Bill Nighy (Love, Actually) weighs in as Davy Jones and Stellan Skarsgård appears as Will's undead father....

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Director: Gore Verbinski
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Release Date: July 7, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Terry Rossio, Ted Elliott
DVD Release Date: December 5, 2006
Runtime: 151 minutes
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
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