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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 William Goss

"Rich Man's Excess"
4 stars

A long time ago on an island far, far away, a pair of lovers found themselves entangled in the epic adventures of a rogue individual on the high seas. They ended hitting the jackpot in Hollywood, where their exploits raked in over $650 million worldwide. Sure enough, not one but two sequels were in store, to be shot back-to-back as had been the trend with recent trilogies. As such, 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest' has been completed, and while it makes for a pretty good movie, it is only part of a possibly great story.

For this round, the plot concerns a series of overlapping ultimatums, as Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) is persuaded into pursuing Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) for his distinctive compass, in order to save his neck and that of his fiancée, Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley). However, Jack’s priorities lie with tracking down a key that opens the titular chest of Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), to whom Jack owes his soul. From here, the big old hectic treasure hunt is underway, becoming increasingly convoluted as various parties chart a path across the seas that would put “The Family Circus” to shame, and several dilemmas and developments come together and eventually evoke the likes of some solid sequels, including The Empire Strikes Back, The Matrix Reloaded, and Big Momma’s House 2.

By this point, one has grown accustomed to the novelty of Depp’s performance, and while neither wearying nor particularly impressive, he manages to settle on a level of familiarity suited for the story and its fans. With somewhat meatier roles, Knightley and Bloom certainly hold their own better than expected, and the supporting regulars return with solid marks all around. As Will’s long-lost father, Stellan Skarsgard conveys years of sorrow and suffering without minding the makeup, and Naomi Harris makes quite an impression as Tia Dalma, a voodoo priestess and former lover of Jack’s. However, most worthy of note is Nighy’s role as Jones, bringing to life a vivid villain underneath the latest in motion-capture technology. Despite the undoubtedly outstanding effects used to bring his squid-like sailor to life, his performance shines past his digital tentacles as both the tormented and the tormenter, captain of a submersible organic ship, with sails of kelp and a crew of the damned, all of which resemble various aquatic flora and fauna, from coral reef to hammerhead. The near opposite could be said of the bland bureaucratic baddies from the East India Trading Company, led by Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander), a man who can demand without ever quite commanding as James Norrington (Jack Davenport) did, who himself returns with a greater degree of resentment for Sparrow.

Hints of sequelitis seem to lurk along the periphery, yet the film maintains a rather remarkable consistency in both character and demeanor with its predecessor, despite a repetitive streak that seems to get the best of its lengthy running time. The earliest action sequence, an ultimately unnecessary detour to a cannibal colony, provides some amusing slapstick, as well as the first of two large-objects-rolling-down-hills-with-people-inside stunts. (The latter bit, a three-way swordfighting spectacle within and atop a runaway waterwheel, proves to be the superior set piece.) The legendary kraken rises from the depths to take down a ship or three during a few glossy yet familiar incidents, Tia Dalma gets visited twice, and even the moments where characters chat as they lean over the railing and stare out to sea come across as redundant throughout the bloated 150-plus minutes. Even startling eleventh-hour developments come in a pair, as two climactic actions, one selfish and one selfless, go against the predetermined natures of the characters, yet feel all too justified in terms of the story and their growth. Returning director Gore Verbinski and writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio don't skimp on the action, the humor, the scope, and the story, but moments like these suggest that maybe they've laid the fun on a bit too thick, too distracted by the flashiness of it all to remember how to keep matters lean. Then again, it only seems appropriate that one of the few flaws of the first film be repeated to a bigger degree, and not necessarily a better one.

Combined with a rather peculiar male/female dichotomy, the whole nature of this production would appear to be best reflected when one character refers to the dark side of ambition, while another instead calls it the promise of redemption. The filmmakers have failed to rein in some of their more excessive habits, yet there is enough entertainment value and plot potential here to remedy these stumbles and deliver in grand fashion come next Memorial Day, when one hopes the resulting finale may be just a bit more buoyant overall than this exposition-heavy entry, despite the tremendous special effects, humorous lines, and the occasional inside joke. As if to seal the deal, the tempting cliffhanger seems to suggest that worthy follow-through on the filmmakers’ behalf is possible, maybe even probable, yet never promised (see: The Matrix Revolutions, Return of the Jedi). If it sounds like I’m picking on Chest, I feel I should clarify, for I do find it to be a rather enjoyable, if mildly weary, summer diversion that happens to be wedged into greater, more critical circumstances by its very blockbuster trappings.

The work of the cast and crew throughout alternates between the relentless, the seamless, and the effortless, although rarely ever forming a steady fusion of all three. Verbinski and company will have to craft the conclusion by not only regaining the even keel of the first film, but also amplifying it so as to pay off such extravagant arrangements in spades with greater discipline and equal enthusiasm to that of the second. However, until that final installment arrives, this one will have to stand as the relatively sturdy start of a five-hour swashbuckling epic, if not a moderate middle to a grander trilogy.

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originally posted: 07/09/06 23:03:17
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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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