Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

An exhausting combination of sensory overload and boredom.

There sure is a lot going on in this movie! Too much, if you ask me, and all of it muddled. The story is a crazy quilt of frenetic energy, a script in service of one big action sequence after another. It shouldn’t be that difficult to follow what’s going on in a movie based on a theme ride, but the filmmakers do their darndest to confuse the audience time and again. You quickly learn it doesn’t much matter.

The most disappointing aspect of Pirates 2 is its utter lack of humor and delight. Simply put, it’s not fun. Jack Sparrow, dare I say it, is annoying. Johnny Depp’s performance is all characteristics with no character behind it. He spends a good deal of time mugging and running around like a girl. Captain Jack has a lot less charm going for him the second time around.

On the other hand, there isn’t enough of him in the story; instead, there’s too much focus on Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly. It’s too bad their stars have risen since the first film came out, causing filmmakers to elevate their importance in subsequent Pirate movies. Bloom especially is dull, dull, dull in comparison to everything else that’s going on.

The soundtrack is as overstimulating as the action, while the color palette on screen is drab and boring. The entire film was too long and I thought the effect of the Kraken was disappointing and overused. My favorite elements in the film involved the bits cribbed directly from the original Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Floating through the swamp with fireflies glowing over the water is one of my lasting memories of visits to Disneyland as a kid, and I got a real kick out of seeing that set recreated on screen.

I have many individual quibbles with the film. For instance, why is Elizabeth sitting out in the rain when the film begins? Other than providing an arty opening shot, it doesn’t make much sense. The non-sense continues from there.

As I emerged from the theater (tip: stay through the end credits) I felt as if I’d been pummeled for two and a half hours straight. I was exhausted and not in a good way. I’d hoped for a repeat of the first Pirates film, which was like hopping off an exciting theme park ride, whooping and laughing, ready to go again. Not even close. [**1/2 out of 5]

(I just reread my review of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Wow, a complete 180.)

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