Genre: Adventure and Fantasy Running Time: 2 hrs. 31 min.
Release Date: July 7th, 2006 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Gore Verbinski Actors: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, Jack Davenport, Jonathan Pryce, Stellan Skarsgard, Tom Hollander, Naomie Harris, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook
icking up shortly after the events of the first film, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) are arrested on their wedding day by a new villain, the East India Trading Company’s Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander), who mysteriously wants Captain Jack Sparrow’s (Johnny Depp) “broken” compass. And it’s up to Turner to get it for him if he wants to see poor Elizabeth safe and sound. Will quickly catches up with the unfortunate pirate, who, it is revealed, has sold his soul to the infamous Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), the squid-faced captain of the eternally damned ship, the Flying Dutchman. Jack must attempt to outwit and escape Jones and his band of half-fish henchmen – not to mention cannibalistic tribesmen and a gargantuan pet cephalopod called the Kraken – all while trying to obtain the key to a hidden chest, whose treasure will set him free. Naturally, all parties involved will collide in several epic battles that will test the limits of action, imagination, and computer graphics.
This time around, the performances are still fittingly over-the-top and heavily idiosyncratic, but, having previously established the basic world and its inhabitants, there’s a newfound opportunity to give many of the minor supporting cast members additional screentime and, consequently, extra character development. Pintel (Lee Arenbeg) and Ragetti (Mackenzie Crook) are back as comic relief, but now they’re on the side of good (sort of) to help crew the Black Pearl. Norrington (Jack Davenport) also returns with a different motivation for wanting to apprehend Sparrow, reluctantly signing on to participate in the pirate’s latest quest. Depp is as flamboyantly charismatic as ever, Bloom is as serious as necessary, and Knightley is as commanding yet feminine as before, refusing to become the typical damsel in distress. The most notable addition to the pirate mythology is Davy Jones, the notorious, peg-legged, barnacled, tentacled marvel of makeup, motion-capture effects, and CGI. His crew of mutant fishmen is nearly as impressive, bringing a welcome visual change from the skeleton warriors seen in the first film.
The action in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” is nothing short of perfection. Everything from a narrow escape from a clan of anthropophagites to the showdown with the Kraken is expertly paced and complexly choreographed. One of the picture’s best is a three-way duel atop a giant rolling waterwheel, which will have audiences laughing at the absurd genius of its creativity (and surprising realism, since a good deal of it is genuine stuntwork). Now that the character introductions are largely out of the way, this second chapter gets to focus on the fun – such as the magnificent flourishes and embellishments of monstrous set pieces, grand locations, and riveting swordfights, which all mirror the adventures of Indiana Jones, “Jurassic Park,” and “King Kong.”
The Kraken might not be the most original of titanic nemeses, but it’s still unquestionably impressive to see it tear through ships with its multitude of fleshy extensions. The most intriguing effects, however, belong to Davy Jones, whose facial appendages, suction cups, and highly detailed, slimy, shiny, mottled skin are not only lifelike, but move with the utmost realism. It’s both a marvel of advanced computer technology and a testament to the master craftsmen behind the conceptualization and manifestation of such a singular villain.
Although the previous film ended rather resolutely, there’s no denying that the further tales of Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, and Elizabeth Swann are significantly suitable affairs for cinematic realization. With plenty of allusions, running jokes, and side plots to reference the 2003 original, this follow-up is a strikingly entertaining, wholly faithful continuation, full of all the excitement, swashbuckling piracy, and fantastical legends that director Gore Verbinski knows fans desire. The only real problem is that, like so many sequels, it’s just the first part of an epic conclusion, which will take another year to see a proper ending.
– The Massie Twins