Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest review

Jack Sparrow is once again doing the whole pisshead-pirate thing and being a pain in the government’s arse. It soon proves the least of his problems as Davy Jones come a-calling to collect on a deal he made with Jack 13 years ago and you don’t want to piss Davy off, not when he’s got giant squid thingy, the Kraken, at his command. Sequels have evolved over the years and with many of them being planned as the first film gets the greenlight, we’ve seen the odd follow-up prove a much better flick than its daddy (X2: X-Men United, Spider-Man 2); Pirates 2 is one of them.

Once again we follow Cap’n Jack as he manages to rope Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann into the mess he’s up to his neck in — well we knew he would, right? On the run and in a bit of a bind to cough up the princely cost of his soul, Jack spends the time worrying about the pickle he’s in and righting his wrongs in an effort to get someone to give him a hand out of trouble…or does he just get stuck into the rum and prance about?

Well that’s what makes Dead Man’s Chest so enjoyable. As was the case with Curse Of The Black Pearl, you know that no matter how serious a bind is, Sparrow will be there slurring his speech in the face of death. It’s not bravery, it’s a finely tuned blend of stupidity and booze that sees our beloved captain bouncing down cliffs as a human kebab, or trying to make a futile bargain with Jones himself by stitching up Will Turner. In fact, Jack’s fannying about works so well, that it seems almost logical to cast wooden boy Bloom in the other leading role as his acting ability (or lackof it) proves a stark contrast to Depp’s ability as Legolas himself has trouble delivering even the simplest gag. Knightley on the other hand once again produces the goods that show why exactly she’s quickly become one of Hollywood’s favourites as we see the gutsy, ‘taking-no-shit’ Elizabeth that we got a glimpse of at the end of the first one, ‘cept it’s for the whole film this time.

Nipping at Depp’s heels is Bill Nighy, playing barnacled buccaneer Davy Jones. With the face of an octopus and the temper of a pit bull that’s been kicked in the nuts, he proves himself a far more formidable foe than even Geoffrey Rush’s Barbossa. Captain of The Flying Dutchman, Jones has sea creature-like beasties as the enslaved souls that provide the crew of the legendary boat; creepy, crawley and bloody violent they’re still the lesser of two evils when compared with the Kraken. A giant squid able to smash a boat into matchsticks and apparently possessing a bad case of halitosis, the tentacled terror provides the edge of the cinema seat more wear and tear.

The devastation caused by the monster is jaw dropping stuff, yet these scenes are equalled by the action of a three-way sword-scrap on a runaway waterwheel and Jack’s escape from a cannibal tribe that worship him as a living god but ‘want to free him from his human flesh’. Helmsman Gore Verbinski again manages to anchor his status as one of Hollywood’s more talented new directors, as this can easily be chalked up in the win column along with Curse Of the Black Pearl and sleeper hit horror The Ring; however, the film still has it’s flaws. It may be a bit too long for some, especially as it’s only half the story so far, and as good as the CGI is on the Kraken and Davy Jones himself, it’s the Dutchman’s crew that prove to be the most fearsome.

Still the sets are breathtaking, the script sizzles and the action is non-stop. With giant squids, cannibals, that fucking monkey from the first film and a goofy pirate farting about — shiver me timbers, what more could you want?

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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