The Movie Buffer

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest


Fifteen spoilers on a dead man’s chest, yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!


To start this review, I need to reveal that there is a big plot twist in this movie and I’m going to try my damnedest to skirt the issue as it arises.

A pirate-y adventure on the high seas that include a mysterious voodoo lady, a legendary sea captain and a monkey - it all sounds very much like a video game or at least a tourist attraction, doesn’t it? But in this case, it’s the newest installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Dead Man’s Chest. All the actors from the first one come back for the, contractually obliged, sequel, so we get another dose of the merry band of pirates, misanthropes and scallywags.

The story for this part of the series revolves around a debt that Jack Sparrow (Depp) needs to repay to Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), infamous, fishy pirate-captain of the Flying Dutchman. In order to pay back his debt he tricks, deceives and lies to his ‘friends’, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), in the way only Jack can. Apparently, the key to resolving all their problems lies within the Dead Man’s Chest, a treasure that Davy has buried and protects (I was hoping that they would have taken the Maltese Falcon “the stuff dreams are made of” explanation of what the chest held, but they lay it out for the kids, it’s a PG-13 flick). With mayhem at their boot heels and certain death staring them in the face our brave heroes have to choose, a life on the lamb or a fate worse than death, becoming a crewman under Davy Jones. There’s a love story under that muck and it pokes it head through it all, once in a while, only to disappear from whence it came (Macguffin’d!).

This movie is really half a movie, it doesn’t really explain anything in an coherent way. People just pop out of nowhere to save the day, things fortuitously fall into our heroes laps and those red herring we were following, they weren’t red herring at all. Maybe that was the goal, I can’t say for certain. The movie feels and looks exactly like The Curse Black Pearl but with more everything, including plot holes.

Gore Verbinski, also returns to navigate this movie through all it’s twists and turns. On the whole the directing is average and there are a few telling scenes that not only clue the viewer into the twist, but bludgeon them with knowledge, that should have been shed. The film was definitely fat, at two and a half hours for an underdeveloped story, it’s a good thing that the action and the comedy fills the gaps nicely. Personally, I really liked the interplay between the stout, cockney pirate, Pintel, and his tall and skinny friend, Ragetti, as they wax philosophical about things like rowing technique and “salvaging” treasures. They had some solid “Ha-Ha”s. This movie really needed an editor to trim off about 45 minutes of film and then it would have been an acceptable length for the project.

The acting from the stars of the flick was a par for the course, no one really shined in their roles because it was exactly the same as the first. One of the new comers to the series, Naomie Harris, is an excellent Jamaican Voodoo lady, with the accent, the chicken bones and the like. Stellan Skarsgard’s character, Bootstrap Bill, shows a more human side to himself now as one of the damned on the Flying Dutchman. Depp, Bloom and Knightley are at the center stage but are often over shadowed by the brilliant special effects of the movie.

The best part of this roller-coaster ride is the graphic department at Disney. They do an excellent job at making all the non-existent characters look real and act real, from Davy Jones’ appearance to the crew of the damned who have all taken on icthyoid features to the villainous Kraken that torments wayward ships. It was a great looking film and it’s too bad they didn’t d much with it.

In essence this is a children’s movie, though that doesn’t mean it can be crap without reprimand. Because of it’s stellar special effects, it’s humor and it’s decent pirate-y theme, this movie gets a 6/10 or a 2.5 out of 5 stars. The movie lacks in the story telling: the resolution, if you can call it that, of this movie is shockingly bad. Also, it really doesn’t add to much new content into the Pirates of the Caribbean mythology. After sitting in the theatre for that long you want to be saying, “Wow, so that’s why…” rather than persistent question asking that I heard after the screening.