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Overall Rating

Awesome: 16.4%
Worth A Look31.22%
Average: 20.63%
Pretty Bad: 19.58%
Total Crap: 12.17%

14 reviews, 105 user ratings

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
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by Matt Seaver

"Sometimes, you need to let your first sequel go out and be its own film."
4 stars

"Dead Man's Chest" had a big pair of shoes to fill. Somehow, the memory of the first film proves to be both a blessing and curse for Ol' Captain Jack Sparrow and gang. This is a film that really wants to exist on its own, but demands made by the bookends of the series dictate a little too much for the middle child. Still, it's very entertaining for 3/4ths of the running time, and it made me want the third installment out now. I say mission accomplished.

As we return to the Caribbean, we find the ruins of Elizabeth (Keira Knightly) and Will's (Orlando Bloom) wedding. A new meanie has entered town in the form of Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander), an official for the East India Trading Company, infamous for branding any pirates they happen to run into. Beckett tells Will that both he and Elizabeth have death sentences for assisting in Captain Jack Sparrow's (Johnny Depp, in the role he will forever be known for) escape, a crime that is itself punishable by death. The only way out of it is for Will to hunt down Sparrow, and make a deal with him - a pardon and a commission as a privateer for the Trading Company in exchange for that crazy compass of his that doesn't point north. So off Will goes (and later, Elizabeth as well) to find him, but Jack has problems of his own. It seems that the only way Jack ever acquired the Black Pearl was by selling his soul to Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), the undead ruler of the sea, and now Davy is looking to collect on the contract. In addition, Will finds that his father, Bootstrap Bill (Stellan Skarsgard), found his way onto Jones's crew... which would either help or hinder his mission to find Jack.

It takes most of the first hour for Pirates to get its sea legs. The introduction of Jack is far too drawn out, and takes up way too much time for a sideplot. The reason his entrance into the first film was so memorable is that it was so simple and unfortunate, but the way Jack was handling it gave you a great idea of what kind of pirate and/or man this guy was. This felt like they were trying way to hard, and trying way to hard to be goofy when there was no need for it.

That's a common theme here, actually. This is a much more serious film, but it doesn't realize it until too late into the runtime. As opposed to just a direct threat to Elizabeth, now EVERYONE has a sword to their throats, and the situation is much more dire. That explains why Depp's Sparrow isn't quite as quirky or insane this time around - he's very much invested in this adventure. His soul is at stake. That in itself helps to bring Sparrow a bit more down to earth, which some people will like because it makes him more human, and some people will hate because... well... it makes him more human. It's almost overcompensation, because the rest of the returning heroes are so devoid of personality or character. Yes, Will and Elizabeth's relationship is as static as ever, and there's no wonder it gets so easily shaken at numerous points throughout the film. Much of the blame falls at the feet of Bloom for being Orlando Bloom, but halfway through the film it seems like Knightly stops trying in any scene that DOESN'T have Depp. He is the gold standard for this film (and this type of film), and many of his colleagues are falling short.

One who gives Depp a run for his money is Bill Nighy. Even piled under piles of makeup, prosthetics or CGI, it's a joy to watch him create and play with Davy Jones, and what he delivers is one of the most entertaining villains I can remember. Nighy is unrecognizable in look and voice, a testament both to him and to the crew creating the giant squid on his face. He's able to keep plenty of the nuances of the human underneath, but completely embraces and revels in the ridiculousness of his grotesque additions. Similar praise for all of Jones's crew, though only Skarsgard is given enough time to develop any sort of character, and even he feels like a required addition without a whole lot to do. Overall, the crew doesn't have the charm of Barbossa's ghost pirates, but they're a bit better at playing villain.

The visuals are all-around fantastic. Everything from Jones's crew, to the his ship, the Flying Dutchman, are beautifully designed and imaginative, and executed just as well. The set pieces are all nice to look at, and as much as the opening ruined wedding didn't sit well with me, the look and feel of the scene is a credit to Gore Verbinski. Rank him up in the Michael Bay category for being able to handle enormous, ridiculous action pieces, but Gore does it competently and without losing the soul of the film. The much-touted three-way swordfight on a moving waterwheel involving Jack, Will and Norrington (Jack Davenport) is about as much fun and crazy as a swordfight can be.

The writing is undoubtedly where Dead Man's Chest loses points. This is, without a doubt, Part I of a two-part film. Nothing introduced in the film actually gets resolved this time around; it all has to wait for At World's End next year. Much of the character work that made part one rise above being a cool action movie WITH PIRATES! is gone. They even recycle a number of the same jokes, most of which aren't funny anymore because they're simply not as absurdly crazy as they once were. They have a good basic story here that's being stretched far too thin, and some fatty side plots that are there to suck up time that doesn't need to be absorbed - it ought to just be eliminated.

This isn't a matter of changing the film. The film is good. There's just too much going on that doesn't move the story anywhere. I think Christmas, when we're able to do a "Pirates of the Caribbean" marathon on HD-DVD or Blu-Ray, people are going to appreciate this one a little more. Right now, it's not a great standalone, but in context, this is great fun. "Pirates" is tied with "Spider-Man" for the honor of being the "Star Wars" of this (my) generation - and when you can beat out "Star Wars" for that title, you're doing something right.

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originally posted: 07/18/06 05:44:35
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User Comments

2/24/09 Chris Whoever wrote the review at the top has no idea what they're talking about. 5 stars
1/21/09 Anonymous. the worst of the trilogy, disappointing. :/ 3 stars
1/15/09 Shaun Wallner Depp is a great actor. 5 stars
12/01/08 Roz Not as good as the first. Plot was an absolute mess. 3 stars
11/30/08 noops.... had grt expectations frm this but disappointed... 3 stars
6/02/08 R.W. Welch Overdone, overbroad, and overlong. 2 stars
1/05/08 Pamela White vague plot but effects make it interesting 3 stars
8/13/07 Annonomiss 2nd film of trilogy was SO hokey and Disneyed up. Waste of film. 1 stars
6/17/07 Tiffany Losco awesome, loved it. Johnny depp great sexy 5 stars
5/31/07 Ionicera better than the reviews led me to believe 4 stars
5/24/07 Tracey Chambers good movie, but I was exhausted when it was over 3 stars
5/24/07 runes one way, way too many plotlines...even the dog got a plotline...wack!? 1 stars
5/17/07 carlie beautiful movie!!!! i love piratres of the caribbean !!!! and i have the book!!! super 5 stars
4/27/07 Sharlatan the 1st was wicked wtf happened the dog moment and cage swing ws only good bits nothtfunny 2 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK Twice as long and half as good as the original. thank god that Mr Depp saves the day. 3 stars
1/19/07 movieman great movie 5 stars
1/05/07 Watch This Movie! Very good, had just as much momentum as the first. Entertaining and fun. 5 stars
12/29/06 Samantha Fields I love pirates of the caribbean 1 & 2 , its funny and can be scary !!! 5 stars
12/27/06 Keelie liked it... ending couldve been better but i think it is much clearer now.... 4 stars
12/26/06 bullit16 Seriously? You're kidding, right? 2 stars
12/18/06 Thealizia The scene were they were were fighting on the wheel was over dramatic 2 stars
12/15/06 Charles Tatum On par with the original, Depp steals his scenes again 4 stars
12/08/06 Ron Better than the first 4 stars
12/06/06 Dude Hilarious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 5 stars
11/23/06 Austin Wertman BETTER THAN THE FIRST 5 stars
11/15/06 reena wful, just awful. arbitrary events dont make a good movie... 1 stars
11/14/06 gracie this was th best movie ever. you suck! 5 stars
10/25/06 Drew G Good sequel to a great movie 4 stars
10/17/06 David Very disappointing 2 stars
10/14/06 Helen Cannot be missed! Savvy? 5 stars
9/28/06 ES A movie worse than the first one, now that's quite a feat 1 stars
9/26/06 Kayla I love this movie so much! The first one was better but even that one had its ups and downs 5 stars
9/22/06 JohnnyFaye I love reading peoples far fetched "I hate" reasons for this movie...haha It's a sweetmovie 5 stars
9/21/06 Pritchett The first one sucked and so does this one. 1 stars
9/17/06 ad lengthy 3 stars
9/14/06 Mara Frost Once again, Johnny Depp is great! Also fun stunts and creature makeup. 5 stars
9/13/06 Agent Sands A disappointment, with perhaps 2 entertaining scenes. 3 stars
9/07/06 bosh not really 2 stars
9/04/06 Ricardo very entertaining 5 stars
9/03/06 Christopher Stucky Didn't expect much, but really liked it... just like the first one. 4 stars
9/02/06 van zwaar ...yarr 2 stars
8/24/06 Chad Thomas Johnny Depp is great! 4 stars
8/22/06 G Sherfy Projector died at the end of the movie; I wasn't disappointed to miss the last 5 minutes. 3 stars
8/13/06 George This is movie is kinda lame 3 stars
8/07/06 Vincent Costa Entertaining 3 stars
8/06/06 Erik Van Sant 15 Minutes in and I was wishing I was watching 'Superman Returns' again. Flaccid follow-up. 2 stars
8/05/06 TiGrBaLm Fast paced, action packed, John Sparrow ROCKS 4 stars
8/04/06 sulman mahmood good 4 stars
8/03/06 Sarah W totally awesome johnny depp was great!!!!! 5 stars
8/03/06 Mike V Too long but a lot of fun....It's Depp...enough said. 4 stars
8/02/06 Mase IF you liked the first you will probably like this, if not tedious and boring. 2 stars
7/30/06 ls All the things that made part 1 good are missing. Part 3 is gonna get downloaded 2 stars
7/29/06 Troy M. Grzych Action sequences were too long and drawn out. Visuals were cool. Movie slow. 4 stars
7/29/06 ahnold All visual. No plot. Nothing compelling. What's happened in hollywood? 1 stars
7/28/06 dj way too long!!! And there is no ending!! 2 stars
7/26/06 Quigley an awesome sequel that has some problems, but I ain't complaining. Depp is the man; see it 5 stars
7/25/06 jess Totally awesome! 5 stars
7/25/06 pin transition film, loose and disappointing. Will still see III 3 stars
7/24/06 Joyce Verhoeven For everyone whom has not seen this movie, watch it, because this movie is super 5 stars
7/24/06 malcolm near perfect blend of action/comedy, but really just half a movie 4 stars
7/23/06 Koitus Keira looked great; hard to understand Voodoo woman; suspicious ending! 3 stars
7/22/06 Agent Sands The 2 action sequences on islands were the only good parts of the movie. 3 stars
7/21/06 michaelb1478 a little overlong but still a fun movie 4 stars
7/21/06 Elizabeth S Some clever humorous action, but needs a major edit. 3 stars
7/20/06 ahnold Just another movie w/2 much action and no compelling plot 2 stars
7/20/06 Butt No treasure in this chest 2 stars
7/20/06 Suzz too long; heavy on special effects; lite on with; not enough Depp 3 stars
7/19/06 Ashley It's totally awesome!!! Cannot wait for the 3rd. I love Johnny Depp! 5 stars
7/18/06 Ole Man Bourbon A lot better than I was expecting. Forgettable, but entertaining. 4 stars
7/16/06 Jim Almost as good as the original 4 stars
7/15/06 Evil Wolfie Slightly less good then the first. 4 stars
7/15/06 MP Bartley Overstuffed, disjointed and silly, but still a giddily fun time. 4 stars
7/15/06 robo it does suck quite badly 2 stars
7/14/06 Somebody people who give it less than 5 stars are just too picky! 5 stars
7/14/06 Stanley Thai Better than the first but it's just too long. 4 stars
7/14/06 Nightjorn PIRATES OF THE CRAP-A-BEAN: THE WRATH OF CTHULHU!!!!! 1 stars
7/13/06 inty utter crap 1 stars
7/13/06 EZ I can't wait for the third one!! 5 stars
7/13/06 Agent Sands Way too long, disorganized, too many dead animals. Only 2 good scenes in the whole movie. 3 stars
7/13/06 Dan great movie to see 5 stars
7/13/06 Captain Highcrime Found myself wanting to hear the "Benny Hill" theme during some of sillier set-pieces 3 stars
7/12/06 Vicious Fun over-all, but it seemed to lack focus. 4 stars
7/12/06 JM Synth Some outstanding set-pieces, but Verbinski is yet another director who lacks restraint 3 stars
7/11/06 Roy I loved the first half but then I got bored 3 stars
7/11/06 Kent S Did I see the same film? I'm sorry but I'm frustrated and angry at the "end" of this movie 2 stars
7/11/06 hooplah could have used about 20 minutes of trimming and it'd be about perfect 4 stars
7/11/06 Kaitlin Reynolds I thought it was very long, confusing and hard to keep up with. 3 stars
7/11/06 Mike Fairly boring, way too long. Blah 2 stars
7/11/06 Jean Smolen The sequel was butt numbingly boring! 1 stars
7/10/06 NoRefill Way too long. Needs about an hour cut. Watching the original again might make it funnier. 3 stars
7/10/06 Richard Green Frequently tiresome, not all that funny. 3 stars
7/10/06 Doug Eh. 3 stars
7/10/06 John Doesn't have legs to stand on it's own. 2 stars
7/10/06 Bob No plot, not funny, and about two hours too long 1 stars
7/09/06 Steve-O An over-cooked 2.5 hour setup for what will hopefully be a much more exciting third movie 3 stars
7/09/06 sully needs about1 hour of editing, Johnny Depp 4 stars 4 stars
7/09/06 Mo Better than the first one 5 stars
7/08/06 Jon Gets pretty repetitive an dull 1 stars
7/08/06 Roy Started off great but then I got bored 3 stars
7/08/06 KingNeutron Only movie this year I'll see more than once. STAY4CREDITS 4 stars
7/08/06 Jambi I still can't believe people actually liked the first pile of mediocrity. 2 stars
7/08/06 Gerry Irons Very Silly 2 stars
7/07/06 asina started out weak, but REALLY picked up by the end. 4 stars
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  07-Jul-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 05-Dec-2006

  06-Jul-2006 (12A)

  06-Jul-2006 (M)

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