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'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest' *** 071906
The trouble with the sequel to the profitable 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl' starts early or doesn’t start rather. This film takes some serious time to get going. Despite some promising opening sequences the film just meanders through some loosely sketched together moments. Part of the problem lies in the most memorable character of the 'Pirate’s series: Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp.) Sparrow was a highlight of the first film and the makers of 'Dead Man’s Chest' are very aware pf that.
Unfortunately they seem to want to squeeze as many laughs out of the eccentric pirate as possible. While Sparrow was off the wall he was also still a pirate. Sure he was funny but he also had a certain amount of grit and dignity. The image of Sparrow stepping off the mast of his sinking ship and onto the awaiting dock just as his boat went under was a great one and Depp pulled it off with a certain amount of dignity. In 'Dead Man’s Chest', the filmmakers seem to have forgotten that Sparrow was a pirate. In the first three quarters of the film he is simply comic relief.
Sparrow runs away from danger, mumbles drunkenly, and runs away from danger some more. Maybe it is my imagination but it seems like Sparrow does more running than he does talking in this movie. The comedy seemed forced in this film and while nothing was really embarrassingly bad it just keeps going and going. Not only is it long but this film is more or less a set up for the third film (which was shot alongside this one.) Thus, the movie is a long build up to... well... the third film.
I don’t want to make it sound like this movie is a total wash (sorry for the really bad pun.) 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest' does finally kick into gear in the last quarter and when it does there are some exciting moments and Sparrow once again get to be more than the comic relief. Almost all of the main cast from the first film return here and do what they can with their roles. There are a couple of new faces as well and they do what they can. Most notable of the new cast is Bill Nighy who appears buried below pounds of makeup and digital effects as Davy Jones.
The movie is enjoyable, I think. 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest' would certainly have been stronger had it been a shorter film with a more focused story. Add to that the overuse of Sparrow as comic relief and the film falters. Somehow it pulls back together in the end and there is enough for me to give a moderate recommendation.
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