Film review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest


Pirates of the Caribbean

Disney unexpectedly struck gold with this franchise, despite their fears that nobody wanted to see a pirate film (oh come on, Cutthroat Island wasn’t that bad). The second in the trilogy, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest delivers the rollicking adventure we all expected, and if there were some of us who were hoping for something a little bit more special, well, I guess we can still just enjoy the ride.

From start to finish we hardly get a chance to draw breath as Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp channelling Keith Richards), Will Turner (the competent Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (an energetic Keira Knightley) and a cast of assorted misfits jump from one action sequence to the other. And like an adventure ride, there’s not a whole lot of concern with rhythm and pacing — Gore Verbinski basically throws every pirate cliche you can think of in a bag, gives it a good shake, and pours it out on the screen with the aid of absolutely stunning digital effects and a cast who are obviously enjoying themselves.

Talking about effects, I have it on good authority that Bill Nighy, who plays Davey Jones complete with squirming tentacles and slimy squid skin, doesn’t actually appear in one frame in this film. Every shot with him in it is completely digital. When you see how well they have captured his performance, you’ll be amazed—despite the covering of tentacles, those are Nighy’s mannerisms to a T. The digital effects work in this film, with a very few exceptions, is absolutely astounding. In fact it’s almost so good it can be distracting; I found my eye sometimes wandering to the myriad of little details in the background as a main character was speaking.

Sure, Bloom’s leading man is as one-dimensional as ever, but this is Depp’s film and he knows it. Flush with the success of his foppish, half-drunken characterisation in the first film, he lays it on thick here. Jack Sparrow has quickly become a loved film character, but if the writers are skilled enough to develop him somewhat further in the third film he could become a classic.

Along with all the running, sailing, swordfighting and rolling (yes, rolling, and lots of it) we do see a little bit more emotional depth, which I found myself hoping for about halfway through the film. It’s a bit of an afterthought but augurs well for the third in the franchise.

But all these quibbles don’t detract from the fact that Pirates is a bloody entertaining film. It could have been something really exceptional, but if you shut your brain off and strap yourself in, you’ll be taken on a fun ride.

Four and a half rubbery barnacles out of five.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jedimacfan
    Jul 16, 2006 @ 12:00:07

    I loved it, too. 4 and a half eunuchs out of five for me. Can’t wait for the third one. Did you stay for after the credits? There was an easter egg.

  2. UniversalHead
    Jul 17, 2006 @ 09:56:54

    Damn, I sat through the (very long) credits and left just before the end!

  3. Tessa Bailey
    Jul 18, 2006 @ 03:37:55

    Just wanted to say that I completely agree with your comments. It made me giggle (especially the bit about Orlando Bloom and his one-dimensional character). Great film!!! Didn’t see after the credits, but was stunned that they came up when they did. I was left gob-smacked at the end when ‘you know who’ popped up. Can’t wait for the thrid.

  4. vulpinoid
    Aug 11, 2006 @ 15:18:48

    I stayed for the credits but didn’t see anything extra that I can recall.
    I feel ripped off.

  5. UniversalHead
    Aug 11, 2006 @ 15:44:36

    I would too. What is this mythical easter egg of which you speak jedimacfan?