Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest teaser posterPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest opened 11 days ago and has already made a whopping $258.2 million thru its first 10 days. I happened to contribute ten of my hard-earned dollars to that total when I took in the flick last Saturday night with Ed. I pregamed the sequel by watching the first film, The Curse of the Black Pearl, on Friday night, so I have a few quick thoughts on that one first before diving into the second.

The first Pirates of the Caribbean was released in 2003 and I didn’t see it until I received the DVD as a gift for Christmas that year. It was nice to refresh my memory on the film because I had only watched it once. Of course, everyone remembers that Johnny Depp gave a spectacular performance as Captain Jack Sparrow, but I forgot about a couple mid to smaller level players. How about Jack Davenport as Commodore Norrington or Martin Klebba as Marty? Don’t know where they are from? For shame…

Davenport plays Steve on the original British version of Coupling. Yes, I am sure you don’t even remember the US version. Klebba plays Randall (a janitor, but not The Janitor) on Scrubs. According to his bio on IMDB, he also wrestles Playmates on the Howard Stern Show (and wins) and is the world’s fastest little person. Anyway, pretty much everyone from the first movie appears in the second, which is pretty cool.

I enjoyed watching the first film again and it gave me high hopes for the second. Depp has really found a character to love in Sparrow (yes, I am agreeing with the rest of the planet here). Orlando Bloom is his usual barely noticeable self as Will Turner, I suppose unless you are female, then he’s just dreamy and nothing else matters. I don’t think I have seen a film with him where I thought he gave a memorable performance, except maybe Elizabethtown, and yes, I am including Lego-land from LotR in that statement. Perhaps he’s better suited for roles where he can be a sad-sack guy instead of jumping around with a sword. Rounding out the three stars, Keira Knightley gives a good performance as Elizabeth Swann. Of course, the “Try wearing a corset” line still sucks the second time around.

I found the first film to be a good balance of action and laughs. That kind of film is right up my alley most of the time. As Ed thinks of them, a B-movie with A-movie production values. And, of course, we were introduced to the concept of an undead monkey!

I am going to try and keep this one short, so if you’d like a synopsis of the new film, you can read Jason’s post about it. He does a good job there, but I think I may have enjoyed it a bit more than he did. I found the second film to be darker than the first with less of the LOL moments from the first. In fact, Ed was telling me that someone — maybe he knows who and will mention it in any post he may write — suggested the second film was an homage to The Empire Strikes Back. We spent part of the ride back to his house coming up with which characters mapped to their Star Wars‘ counterparts and it was a pretty close match. I won’t list it off here, but if you think about it, it’s pretty easy. Hint, the undead monkey is an Ewok. The story has some pretty obvious parallels as well.

By stating that there were less LOL moments does not mean I didn’t laugh. I had quite a few chuckles and I think it was just a different kind of humor in many situations. For instance, when Will takes a smack to the face (to pass along) from one of the Tortuga harlots after asking her if she’s seen Jack, I laughed. Having just seen the previous film the night before, I recognized her and her friend as the same two harlots that smacked Jack after which he quipped he wasn’t sure if he deserved the first, but might have deserved the second. Fortunately, the film doesn’t recycle a lot of the same jokes from its predecessor like many sequels.

The higher production values can be seen from the very start of the film. The opening scenes were noticeably higher in detail and finishes than any from the first film. The effects were also higher in quality, not that the effects in the first sucked. The first saw a good amount of walking skeletons and such, but they sometimes looked very fake, however, I am not quite sure that wasn’t on purpose. In this film, from the Davy Jones character on down thru his crew, you got much more detail on every character and they weren’t shy about showing it off. They were all excellent and unique in their own right.

As far as the main characters go, I thought they all put in performances at least as good as the first. I think maybe Depp was a little better in the first film, but I’d like to see this one again to really make up my mind. In fact, I don’t know that I would rate one film above the other until I had that chance. I think some of the secondary characters give better performances here than the first, but only because they are given a little more room to breathe.

I recommend you see this one, but only after you’ve seen the first. I’m sure you can get by without doing so, but you’ll have a better time for having seen the first as it does setup some story points in this second film. One is pretty easy to see coming from the first, but the twist may not be so obvious until just before you get it. The only plotline I didn’t like, and I agree with Jason on it, was the forced Love Triangle between Sparrow, Swann and Turner. Of course, it’s straight out of Empire, but it just didn’t feel right at all.

How about that, a relatively short review and no spoilers.