The inevitable sequel is here and, at the time of this writing, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is the number one best selling movie of the year! It ran away with the booty of all kinds of Box Office Records, and broke the 400 Million Dollar mark in almost no time flat. It was also critically derided in some circles.
Those people are idiots, whose major claim to success should be the winning of the international "Head Up Ass" competition! While I will admit that there are parts of Pirates that manage to get a little slow, it should also be noted that these are slow points in one of the quickest and most exciting films of the year. It's fun, but it's also exceptionally intelligent and worthy of repeated viewings. If I could grind up this movie, I'd snort it! Or shoot it up... or something!
I'd like to start by thanking director Gore Verbinski for making sure that the first person shown on camera was the person I (and most of us) came to see, Keira Knightley's Elizabeth Swann. The rest of the movie could've sucked (but didn't) and I'd still have loved it. Keira... you should be queen.
When we last saw our Knock-Around Trio, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Heart Throb) had succeeded in getting their new amigo, Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) back onto his scary ship, The Black Pearl. For their troubles they are soon criminally charged, jailed and threatened by the sleazy, sniveling little Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander), and there's not a gosh darned thing that Governor "Daddy" Swann (Jonathan Pryce) can do about it. I have to call foul about Keira being locked up in that jail cell, man. She could MELT her way out, she's so hot. Ah, well, this is, after all, a fantasy film. Will is soon given the old Kobayashi Maru as Beckett forces him to bring back Jack's Magic Compass for a full pardon (and conscription into the East India Company's Privateer branch.
Unfortunately, Jack still manages to have the short end of the stick. "Jack the Undead Monkey", the only part of the Crew still to have the Curse (did you stay through the credits of the first flick, kids?) leads "Jack the Sexually Ambiguous Sea Captain" down to a meeting with his old shipmate (and Will's Daddio) Ol' Bootstrap Bill Turner himself (as played by Stellan Skarsgård). It turns out that Jack's time has run out and it's time to settle up his soul debt with a certain captain of The Flying Dutchman (ten times as scary as The Black Pearl on Halloween, even). Captain Davy Jones (made up, and CGI-enhanced, but still wonderfully recognizable, Bill Nighy) is the evil, lovesick monster with an Octopus for a head, a crab-claw hand and a crew (and ship) made out of various sea creature parts (they've got to be seen to be believed). The effects here are incredible, and they even blow away Curse of The Black Pearl's Zombie Crew. (Note, this flick could fit nicely into The 2006 Summer of Horror... with frights, murders, adult situations and one positively Fulcian Eye-Popping scene, consider the kids before attending!)
Even though ol' Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) pretty much ruined the deal with his mutiny (during which Bootstrap got sent to the depths, tied to a cannon), Jack bargained his soul (and conscription into Jones' army) in return for the gift of The Black Pearl. That was 13 years ago. The deal was for thirteen years. Did I mention that Davy Jones commands The Kraken (here represented by an impossibly gigantic Octopus), and nowhere on the seven seas is Jack truly safe? Might that be a bit of a problem? Yep!
Naturally, Jack does what any of us would do, right? Can you guess? He beaches the ship and becomes the Chieftain of a Tribe of Cannibals. Yes, this is one amazingly mixed up flick! It doesn't take an eternity (although the movie is over three and a half hours long) for all of the various gangs, including Will and Elizabeth, the two bumbling pirates from the first flick (Lee Arenberg's Pintel and Mackenzie Crook's Ragetti), First Mate Gibbs (Kevin McNally), disgraced Commodore Norrington (Jack Davenport) and many more, all meet up with Jack, Davy, Bootstrap and Kraken in the Sea Storm of All Time!
Returning writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio seem to have been watching Return of the Jedi while typing the script. The references are all over the place, along with any number of other smart in-jokes, especially the nods to the first film. I'm also happy to say (as a huge fan of the ride) that even more references to the original attraction have been packed into this film (some even hilarious inversions of those made in the first film. Especially welcome is the firefly-lit bayou home of a certain Voodoo Chick named Tia Dalma. As played by Naomie Harris (who remains incredibly beautiful even at her most frightening), Tia Dalma is Keira's only competitor in the Beauty Department. Needless to say Tia Dalma plays a vital role in this plot and its linking to the already-filmed third installment in the series.
The special effects are astounding and compliment the action and story beautifully. A certain three-person sword fight is almost as impressive as the performance of Pouting Keira just outside the ring of death. It's hard to imagine this film being much more exciting than it already is, however, as I said, it does get dull once or twice, allowing for all of us GIANT Diet Coke drinkers to get in the porcelain break we need. The plot is meandering, but rewardingly so, and all of it resolves itself into a fantastic cliffhanger, calling virtually every character into question. However, the film is slightly overlong and has an out-of-control feel to it as opposed to the first film's mere "unrestrained" nature.
It's an all around great film, flaws and all, and is worth watching again and again. The performances (I'd recognize Nighy just looking at the eyes alone) are great. If anything Depp has Deepened Jack's character here, while still remaining as hilarious (and swishy) as ever. Of course, for me, Keira Knightley and Naomie Harris still steal the proverbial show. Like separate halves of a Yin Yang, Naomie's mystical inferno is only offset by Keira's cool, sensible English Heat. The only thing better than the scenes they steal alone are the moments they share the same frame. I SALUTE YOU!
Four Stars out of Five for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, and Five for the very, very much alive chests of Knightley and Harris. Amazingly, they're even hotter than Jesse Jane in the Porn Knockoff simply called Pirates! The "Pirates" Theme has come a long way since Cutthroat Island, and it's great to see that Dead Man's Chest, while not quite as good as the original, continues the tradition with Aplomb. Amazingly, the greatest Disney Theme Park Ride has yet another class act movie based on it. So, until somebody makes a movie based on the characters from Disney's SPLASH MOUNTAIN (you get that joke, right, that's not too obscure?) I'll see you in the next reel!
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