“… better than its predecessor in every way, and in my opinion it is a prefect adventure film.”
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is the second film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and in my opinion the best. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest picks up a little while after the first film, and Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann are being arrested for aiding in the escape of Captain Jack Sparrow. Looking to make a deal, Will Turner sets out to find Captain Jack Sparrow and retrieve his compass, knowing that the man who arrested them wants it. Captain Jack Sparrow has other plans and convinces Will to help him screw over Davy Jones, a really scary dude with a squid face.
Now like I said, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (from now on called “Pirates 2” or “the movie”) is my favourite of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and in my opinion it improves on everything the first film introduced. The main improvement in my opinion is the introduction of a lot more adventure. Pirates 2 leads this cast of characters to many different exotic places, and introduces a lot more characters as well. This makes the world feel a lot more open, and it also allows for the plot to stretch its legs. In the first film Captain Jack was looking for the Black Pearl, and he was lucky enough to find it fairly quickly. In this film the goal is much more open-ended. Jack wants to find a key that opens a chest (neither of which he has in his possession) that may or may not hold the (figurative) key to controlling Davy Jones. Now with an increased sense of adventure the film also increases the light-heartedness in many scenes. This includes thrusting Captain Jack Sparrow into a more starring role (probably due to love for the character from the first film), and also allowing many other characters to get in on the quips. This was a very good choice in my opinion because it took all of the performances which I called “flat” in the last film, and gave them some depth. Instead of just being there as a brooding presence, characters like Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann actually got to do something. I finally grew closer to these characters because it seemed like they had stopped putting on airs and just started being themselves. Sure many people may claim that this increased level of comedy ruined the film, but I wouldn’t be able to disagree with that statement enough. Where the film added more comedy, it also kept (and in some cases increased) the serious tone that the first film had. Most of this came from the introduction of Davy Jones and his crew. Now once again this film is a kids movie, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t get a little spooked during some of those Davy Jones scenes. Not only is the character design and CGI impeccable, but the general atmosphere that is present when we are aboard the Flying Dutchman is amazing to behold. Once again Pirates of the Caribbean shows that it is a powerhouse when it comes to immersing an audience into a fantasy world.
Now like I said the film had an increased sense of adventure, and with that came some of the best action sequences in the franchise. I’m not going to spoil anything but two sequences come to mind when I think of Pirates of the Caribbean: The cannibal island sequence toward the beginning of the movie, and the three-way battle for the chest toward the end of the movie. These two sequences showcase everything that I love about this franchise in short, ten minute segments. The choreography, the direction, the acting, the score, the comedy, the tension; everything that is great about Pirates of the Caribbean comes together to form two of the best scenes in this entire franchise. As I said Pirates 2 does shift focus more toward Captain Jack Sparrow, but luckily it doesn’t push anyone out. Even though we get more of what we love in Johnny Depp’s amazing performance as the Captain, we also learn to love other characters. With William Turner we learn that he will do anything for Elizabeth, the woman he loves more than anything. We also get a glimpse into Will’s past which is a great way to connect the character to the audience. All of this is conveyed with Orlando Bloom’s wonderful performance, and like I said earlier it was almost like he had come out of his shell. Now apart form Captain Jack Sparrow, I would argue that the star of the show is definitely Elizabeth Swann, played beautifully by Keira Knightly. Finally we see Elizabeth step up and refuse to be the damsel in distress. I understand that the first movie might have tried to accomplish the same thing, but I didn’t find it came off as such. Luckily in Pirates 2 we see Elizabeth take what she wants, even sometimes besting Captain Jack Sparrow to do it. And apart from the main 3 there are countless other performances that I could sit here and praise, but instead I want to talk about something else. As I mentioned before, Davy Jones and his crew added a very creepy presence to Pirates 2, and I feel that I should really praise all of the work that was done with them. First of all, the CGI looked amazing. I will admit that there were a few moments where members of Jones’ crew (or the kraken) didn’t look so great, but for the most part I was stunned at how well the effects held up. This movie is now eleven years old and still I was amazed at how good a lot of the effects in the movie looked. And what’s even more impressive is the fact that the characters were very rarely in perfect weather conditions. This means that on top of creating a CGI character, artists also had to add water or dirt to make them look more realistic; and this was done beautifully. I also want to praise the general design of the Davy Jones clan, along with their ship. I could tell that a lot of care went into creating these characters and locations to make them as interesting as possible, and it totally payed off. Now the last thing I want to squeeze in here is the ending of the film. I’m not going to spoil anything, but I want to address the fact that the ending to Pirates 2 is left rather open-ended. This didn’t really bother me for two reasons: 1. I know that the film had to set-up for the third Pirates film. and 2. I didn’t feel unfulfilled by the ending I got. Everything that was introduced in Pirates 2 was resolved by the end credits, and what we got at the very end was more of a tease than it was a cliffhanger.
For anyone who is still reading this I would like to thank you for listening to me ramble on about why exactly I love Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest so much. For those who skipped to this part of the review I want to say that I don’t blame you one bit. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest manages to take everything from the first film and improve it. It adds more adventure, more comedy, a more engaging story, better acting, better effects, and the list goes on. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is better than its predecessor in every way, and in my opinion it is a prefect adventure film.
I give Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest an A