Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Jack Davenport, Bill Nighy
Directed By:
Gore Verbinski

Much like The Matrix, the instant success of the first Pirates of the Caribbean facilitated the filming of two sequels (the next one to arrive next year). But, unlike The Matrix, the true star of this fantastical adventure is not the hero, Will Turner (Bloom), but the scheming pirate Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp).

Dead Man's Chest quickly picks up events sometime after the first movie. Jack is Captain of the Black Pearl once again, but unable to find his way. Turner and his wife-to-be Elizabeth Swann (Knightly) have their wedding interrupted as they are arrested for freeing Jack. Turner makes a deal to save their necks, but must located Jack and come back with his compass, which is revealed to point towards whatever the holder desires.

It's not long before Turner locates Jack, only to find Jack is being chased by the Cthulhu-like Davy Jones, who has come to claim Jack's debt. Turner is tricked into serving on the ship, and Jack manages to run into Swann, who has been freed. Of course, what ensures is a series of amazing action sequences and more backstabbing than a Thieves Convention.

I was honestly surprised at how many people brought little children to see this movie. Yes, it's loosely based on a theme park ride. A Disney theme park ride. The movie is directed by Gore Verbinski (The Ring), who has a great sense of dark visuals. In fact, a large part of the movie is fairly dark in visuals and tone. Most of the characters are vile and seedy and there is some terrifying action to be had. Oh, well, hope you enjoy putting the little nose miners to sleep.

From a production standpoint, Dead Man's Chest really does just about everything right. The sets, costumes and makeup are excellently handled. There isn't a single moment that might pull you out of the fantastical setting. The effects used for Davy Jones' crew are outstanding and really sell the magical aspect of their nature. Even the Kraken is done well. Verbinski's dark direction has a certain artistic nature to it, which really makes the movie look nice.

From a performance standpoint, Depp is at his finest here. Knightly is decent, though far more interesting than Bloom's Turner, who is becoming far less interesting in comparison to his pirate counterparts. The secondary cast provides some nice character actors to fill in the ranks.

Dead Man's Chest runs almost two and a half hours, a good hour of which feels like aimless wandering, until you realize it's all build-up for the events that play out in the second half of the film. Fortunately, the pacing is well done so you never feel like the film is dragging on. A fair warning, though, as this is the middle act to the trilogy and the ending is a lot like Empire Strikes Back.

If you haven't seen it already, go now and catch one of the better action flicks to come out since the Lord of the Rings movies. The action is fun, there's lots of laughs and you will feel like you got your money's worth by the end.

- - Kinderfeld

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