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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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This one feels much more like the amusement park ride it was based on

  • Jan 5, 2007
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 along up and down the tracks. What made the first film a nice surprise was that it transcended the "amusement park ride made into a film" genre. That is to say: if such a genre had existed, that film would have transcended it by having characters who were fairly interesting, played quite well by excellent actors who were clearly having fun, and who "grew" along the way -- in addition to being taken along for a roller coaster ride. The problem in this film is that for the most part these characters are taken for granted and then taken for a ride along with the audience. The idea seems to have been: let's take every one of the exciting parts of the first film and make them bigger and more exciting and let's take all the "boring" parts of the first film (like characterization and plot) and see if we can fit them in there in between without interrupting the action. A series of events takes place that washes the characters along, and the characters sort of move up and down along roughly the trajectories that their characters already followed in the preceding film: Jack Sparrow sometimes seems like he cares about others (the point he had seemed to arrive at by the end of the first film) and sometimes seems to be out only for number one (the point where he began in the first film), mostly in this film he seems to be playing up the caricature that in the first film seemed like just the surface of a fairly interesting character; Elisabeth sometimes emerges as a clever swashbuckling hero who takes a back seat to no one that she seemed to have become by the end of the first film, and sometimes, unexpectedly, she mopes and sits around while the men fight or pines over the fact that it seems she will never have the storybook wedding she had dreamed of. This film is bigger than the first one, and as a couple of other reviewers have mentioned, there are a number of subplots that the filmmakers have set into motion making this a more complex film (I guess), but that just shows that bigger and more complex is not necessarily better, except in the amusement park. On a rollercoaster the twists and turns are inevitable, and since you can't get off the anticipation mixed with anxiety is just part of the ride; in a trilogy you can get off and by the end you have to care about the characters and believe that it matters. In this film (without giving anything away) by the end I had mostly lost my interest in the characters (since the film wasn't much about them, and primarily used them as a vehicle for "big events" like chases through the jungle, Krakens destroying boats, and swashbuckling fights on a rolling waterwheel). Yes, Will's father shows up. But their relationship is assumed rather than developed. Yes, there is another cursed group of pirates that threatens to destroy stuff, and there are more allusions to Jack's past and the animosity and admiration he has inspired in others -- but other than his remarkable knack for getting out of sticky situations (which is mostly inexplicable dumb luck, combined with a Columbo-esque tendency to put people off guard by seeming oblivious while actually making plans, that are never foolproof but are of the sort that are "so crazy they just might work" and almost invariably and remarkably do), it is hard to see why he inspires such fierce loyalty or hatred. I don't mind implausibilities in this kind of story, as long as the characters and their motivations are plausible, and I care about them enough to maintain interest in what happens to them, and in this case I gradually lost it. Mild spoiler warning: The final scene, in which every one of the characters is devastated by the apparent loss of one person, and willing to go to "the ends of the earth" to save that person (because, in one of the Deus Ex Machina moments that was necessary to keep the franchise going, a strange gypsy woman explains that it is inexplicably still possible to save someone who has been eaten by a giant squid), in spite of the fact that lots of other people had died, and completely overlooking the fact that some of them had already found what they'd been looking for, and others still had other pressing and still pending obligations, and others had proven never to be motivated by loyalty but only by greed. Nevertheless, they all "heroically" stand up to the task of undertaking another mission, i.e. they all symbolically agree at the end of the film to appear in another movie and we are supposed to say, like eager children who have just completed a rollercoaster ride "let's get back in line to go again!" I'll probably see the next movie with my kids when it comes out on video -- but I'm no longer waiting in line, eager with anticipation.

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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 . July 08, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
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 . 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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Nathan Andersen ()
Ranked #68
I teach philosophy at Eckerd College, in Saint Petersburg, Florida.      I run an award-winning International Cinema series in Tampa Bay (www.eckerd.edu/ic), and am co-director of … 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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