Pirates of the Caribbean:
Dead Man's Chest

Director: Gore Verbinski (The Mexican, The Ring, Pirates 1, The Weatherman)
Writers:Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightly, Bill Nighy, Jonathan Pryce
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 150 min
read my spoiler disclaimer

     The essence of mediocrity lies beneath Davy Jones and The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Long, slightly convoluted and resorting to silliness and tom-foolery instead of capturing the magic that was "Curse of the Black Pearl." Also, it's a bit darker with scarier villains than the first time around. But I kept seeing the same thing over and over and was just checking my watch most of the time wondering when this voyage of the seven seas was going to end.

      The main problem I had with the movie was its pacing. 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes into the film, the heart of the story finally starts to churn. Set-up seems to take forever as a convoluted plot-line is created that seperates all of our heroes in different directions with different tasks before bringing them all back together again. The plot is not confusing or even hard to follow, but it sure seems like it will be at the beginning. We have a key, a chest, some documents, a drawing, a compass, a mysterious jar of dirt and a lost ship. On top of that, there are about 5 or 6 different groups or individuals all trying to get their hands on said items. Each of these entities might turn on one another at a moment's notice.

      Effect effects effects. Grandiose and detailed, everything looks perfect...well, almost. A couple of compositing issues (of which only George Lucas seems to have ever mastered), but for the most part everything looks great. Bill Nighy's (no, not the science guy) squid faced character is rendered absolutely stunningly. The rest of his crustaceous crew are great too; much like the crew of the undead in the first film. A giant sea creature also takes shape fairly well, but after seeing it about 100 times throughout the film, doing the exactly the same thing over and over, it gets old quickly.

      Besides Nighy's splendid CGI face, is his tremendous acting ability. Every role I've ever seen him in, he takes the cake. Here is no different. Of course Depp is the lovable star, but Nighy's ability to really give us the creeps as an evil villain is nearly unparalleled. To me, he was just as convincing and compelling as Geoffrey Rush's character of the first film.

      Depp, as Captain Jack Sparrow, is still lovable and fun; although decidedly disagreeable at times (which is part of his charm). However, too much of a good thing can spoil the flavor. I feel like that happened here. His mannerisms and quirkiness are still there, but his dark side is brought out a bit more in this film and he isn't quite as fun. The filmmakers resorted to, as I said before, too much preposterous silliness to bring Sparrow to life. A sequence with bamboo and fruit comes immediately to mind. Cute, but not very funny; just kind of eye-rolling zaniness.

      I'm not going to sit here and rip the whole thing to pieces. It really has everything a summer blockbuster (probably the year's biggest) is supposed to have, and it does it all very well. There is swashbuckling adventure, big SFX, bankable stars and plenty of action mixed with just the right amount of mystery. In most respects, I found it to be basically the same as the first film. Which isn't always a bad thing, but in this case, instead of being zestful and exciting, it became exhausting.

      Since this film and part 3 were filmed basically at the same time and this one has a GREAT mutli-layered, Empire Strikes Back-esque, cliffhanger of an ending, rest assured that after the shipload of money Dead Man's Chest buries, episode 3 will bring about just as much come next May. And I have to admit, $10 of that treasure will be my contribution.

IMDb.com - full cast and crew
Official Site
FLIXSTER PROFILE for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest