Today I watched Gore Verbinski’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)
With the roaring success that was the first Pirates of the Caribbean film a sequel was inevitable. Kicking off with the interrupted wedding of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, they are brought up on charges by Lord Beckett, who uses this as leverage to send out Will to apprehend Jack Sparrow. Beckett’s motives though, are not purely to enforce the laws, he actually wants the broken compass held by Jack, the one that led too the treasure of the last film, but the gold is not where he hopes for it to lead him. In the meantime Jack himself has become wildly paranoid, fearing for his very soul. That soul in question is demanded by another as payment for services rendered, and the one coming to collect is a supernatural demon of the seas known as Davy Jones, captain of the Flying Dutchman. Turns out everyone is after the titular Dead Man’s Chest, which contains Davy Jones’ heart; this could be used as leverage to control him, or destroyed to kill. This is where things get tricky as everyone begins to form their own ideas of what to do with this immeasurable power.
I feel like focus is a very important thing for action and adventure movies like this and unfortunately, this movie lacks that trait in a fairly major way. The opening act is burdened with this diversion to a cannibal island that literally adds nothing but time to the film and this plot cul-de-sac’s impact ripples through the pacing of the rest of the film. This opening hour should have had much more development in it for the rest of the film, which consequently feels overly packed with information. Then when the film finally feels like it is getting somewhere, it abruptly ends, wait for the sequel.
The final thought this film left me with was that it was just setup to the next one, not a satisfying sit in it’s own right. Yet there are things I did very much enjoy about what this film offers, and I think maybe another run past an editor could have brought out a more satisfying film. For one it has some great art design, especially where Davy Jones and his mutant crew are concerned, and speaking of which, the film does a great job at raising the stakes, when it finally gets around to it that is. Threats build around the protagonists and assail them from all sides, especially internally, which is a very smart escalation to the conflicts of the first film, but again, it takes a while to get there. If it takes so much time to set up the story, a whole two and a half hours just to establish another, equal length film, maybe the story is overwrought. Then again, maybe the random cannibals, bad pacing, and over reliance on callbacks represent a story that wasn’t wrought enough and needs quite a few more revisions. 2/5