Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest

July 25, 2006

Yo ho, me hearties.

It was kind of a given that I would enjoy the sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl at least a little. Even if Dead Man’s Chest wasn’t very good, my fond petting of the original movie has developed a sort of Dr. Evil quality to it over the last few years. Pearl was so much better than it had any right to be, that it made me a believer in the goodness of movies again. I’ve recently seen X-Men 3, of course, so that’s no longer a flaw I have to contend with.

Dead Man’s Chest is a perfectly framed mid-part to a three-part story, with the only real complaint I can offer being its sometimes surprisingly slow pace. The problem, if you can call it that, stems from the sheer amount of stuff-doing that the writers must pack into the two and half hours of screentime. There are something like a dozen important characters to keep track of, lots of sea and ground to cover, shipwrecks, assaults, kissing, reveals, swordplay, treasure, and an undead monkey. It’s a busy film.

For the most part, this formula works extremely well. While there were several over-the-top moments, they all felt perfectly ‘natural’ in the context of the film. Like the antics of western heroes, the piratey spirit keeps fools, captains, and cuties safe when they should really be otherwise. I particularly enjoyed the mind-bending ‘rolling wheel’ sequence, which should have just been ridiculous. Instead, it managed to be exciting, funny, and completely enjoyable.

I also really enjoyed the art design displayed in and around Davey Jones’ ship and crew. Every time they were on screen I found myself appreciating a new and creepily unnerving detail. Next year’s planned trilogy topper will probably only exceed the level of detail shown in this outing, and the ghoulish results will no doubt be something to look forward to.

This film, and Pearl, are in no way shape or form classic cinema. They’re pure popcorn, and I’m very glad to say I can enjoy them as much as I do. This film lacked the lip-smacking newness of the original (we already know you can make a good modern pirate film), but still brought out a lot of shine in the antique tropes of the pirate story. Well worth a look, and more than enough fun for me to be looking forward to the next entry in the series.

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