Joeblade

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Hard as it may be to imagine, I do, in fact, enjoy some films. Take the first Pirates film, for instance; I really liked it. It was funny, it had some very quotable lines, the action was enjoyable, Johnny Depp was brilliant, Geoffrey Rush equally so, Orlando Bloom didn’t get in the way too much and Keira Knightley was reasonably fanciable, in that borderline-anorexic way of hers. I couldn’t really fault it.

The only element from the first film that needed to be in the second film was Captain Jack Sparrow — without Depp’s unique, stand-out performance it’s arguable that The Curse of the Black Pearl would not have been nearly as successful as it was. However Dead Man’s Chest appears to have been made with the assumption that every character from the first film needed to be present, irrespective of whether that inclusion made any sort of sense or not.

So, Knightley’s Elisabeth Swann and Bloom’s Will Turner return to recreate the love triangle that was entirely resolved in the last film, Arenberg and Crook return as the comedy pirate duo Pintel and Ragetti to serve no other purpose than cracking a couple of forced one-liners and, mid-way through the film, actually explaining the plot to the audience, Pryce and Davenport appear to pad proceedings out some more…the first half hour to an hour is simply a roll-call of familiar faces and an entirely purposeless series of scenes set on a politically-suspect cannibal island to reunite the gang. It’s unnatural, awkward and entirely unnecessary.

More ‘urgh’ than ‘arrr!’

The story of Dead Man’s Chest revolves around Davey Jones — a betentacled Bill Nighy — arriving on the scene to claim Captain Sparrow’s soul. Jones is aided in this by the Kraken (on holiday from Norway, apparently) and a crew of indistinguishable and characterless computer animations. To save his own soul, Sparrow must track down the secret location where Jones has buried his own heart and — well, I’m not entirely sure what the plan was beyond finding it, to be honest, nor why the heart was even detached and buried in the first place, but there you go. Possibly it involves the control of the Kraken, and possibly it’s also related to the voodoo lady they meet on what I presume was Monkey Island. I just don’t know.

Anyway, Jones wants Sparrow’s soul and Sparrow wants Jones’ heart. Davenport and Will Turner also want the heart to give to the Token English Villain — Davenport so he can regain his standing and Turner so he can regain Elizabeth (who actually escapes from imprisonment very early on, which doesn’t distract Turner from his task for some reason). That’s about it, really, as far as the plot goes. It’s funny, now I write about it…I really thought there was more to it than that — it’s two and a half hours long, after all — and yet nothing springs to mind. Mostly the film consists of a lot of people running around after each other, numerous slapstick set-pieces and bewildering action scenes, and recycled lines.

More ‘aghast’ than ‘avast!’

What bothered me most about this film was that it isn’t even a complete story. Instead of making a trilogy of three, self-contained films that share an underlying theme, the makers have decided to instead use The Matrix trilogy as their model, which means this film is actually part one of a five hour film. Like The Matrix: Reloaded, nothing is resolved in this half — it’s all set-up and no conclusion. Also like Reloaded, Dead Man’s Chest serves to render the events and conclusion of the first film almost entirely redundant. Pfft.

Such a shame. I had such high hopes for this one. Oh well — roll on Superman Returns.

By Paul Haine, in