Thursday, December 16, 2010

"PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: Dead Man's Chest" (2006) Review




"PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: Dead Man's Chest" (2006) Review

Not long ago, I had watched the second movie in the "PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN" franchise for the umpteenth time, namely "Dead Man's Chest". First of all, I would like to say that originally, I had not been that keen on the idea of a sequel or two to "PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: Curse of the Black Pearl". I simply did not think that the 2003 movie needed a sequel. It had ended just fine, as far as I was concerned. And I suspect that many "POTC" fans still feel this way. In end, I am glad that Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski had went ahead and forged a trilogy out of the franchise. To my surprise, "PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: Dead Man's Chest" has become my favorite of the three movies. That said, here are my thoughts on the film.

*At first I had thought that the first movie was better. Which is not surprising to me. Sequels are rarely better than the first movie - with the STAR WARS, X-MEN and SPIDER-MAN franchises being the exceptions. But upon second viewing, I will add that DMC also became amongst the exceptions. In fact, I now have a higher opinion of this movie than I do of the 2003 film. Due to the more complex characterizations and darker storyline, I simply found it more appealing. And it has, I believe, one of the best cliffhangers in Hollywood history. I must congratulate the two screenwriters, Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, along with director Gore Verbinski for taking the franchise in a new direction, instead of rehashing the success of the first movie.

At first, I did not care for the sequences featuring the cannabalistic Pelegostos. I did not like the idea of Jack Sparrow being some kind of god to them, or even the idea of them being cannibals. It seemed to smack of old Hollywood cliches regarding whites' encounters with "non-white savages". Yet, upon repeated viewings, one could see that Verbinski, Elliot and Russio took this cliche and turned it on its heels with the portrayal of the Pelegostos being more than just savages. The director and two screenwriters showed that despite their status as cannibals, the Pelegostos were just as human as anyone else, thanks to the comic acting of the cast members portraying them. On the other hand, I really enjoyed the Black Pearl crew's escape from the Pelegostos. It was filled with excitement, great humor and good acting. In fact, it is one of my favorite sequences in the entire trilogy.

As I had earlier hinted, I have to congratulate Elliot and Russio for allowing the characters to develop even more since the first movie – especially Will Turner (portrayed by the very underappreciated Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly), and James Norrington (Jack Davenport). Even dear old Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp in all his glory) had managed to develop somewhat by the end of the film. All of them became slightly darker and more complex. And all of the major supporting actors - including Kevin McNally as Joshamee Gibbs; and Lee Arnberg and MacKenzie Crook as Pintel and Rigetti - were excellent. Not much of a surprise, really.

"DEAD MAN'S CHEST" also introduced four new characters to the franchise - the perceptive and charming Vodou priestess, Tia Dalma (Naomi Harris); the vindictive and deadly Captain Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) who commanded the ghost ship, the Flying Dutchman; Will's gloomy father, Bootstrap Bill Turner (Stellan Skarsgård); and the ruthless and manipulative representative of the East India Trading Company, Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander). Skarsgård gave a solid performance as Bootstrap. But the other three actors - Harris, Nighy and Hollander - were absolutely fabulous. In fact, Tia Dalma's introduction into the saga happens to be my second favorite scene in the entire franchise.

Many fans had expressed dislike of Elizabeth Swann for what she had done to Jack, when she manipulated him into remaining on board the Black Pearl long enough to chain him to the wheel and leave him at the mercy of Davy Jones' pet, the Kracken. What many fans had forgotten was that Will had more or less done the same thing to Jack - leave him for dead - in the first film. Mind you, Will probably had a better excuse. He feared that he would become a victim of Jack's manipulations. And Elizabeth's excuse was understandable. The Kracken was only after Jack. But a part of me suspects that malice played a part in Elizabeth's actions. She was very angry when she learned that Jack had left Will to the no-so-tender mercies of Davy Jones as a means to square his debt with the latter.

Despite my original low expectations of the movie, I am surprised that I grew to love it so much. Even more surprising was the fact that it became my favorite in the "PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN" franchise. However, the movie's final scene featuring the resurrection of Captain HectorBarbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who had been shot dead by Jack in "CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL" was "BRILLIANT". It had one of the best endings I have ever seen on film, let alone cliffhangers. On the whole, I would give "PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST" an "A". I would have given it an "A+", but I took points off for the Pelegostos sequence. I may be more tolerant of it, but I do not love it. If there was one "PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN" movie I would watch over again without any hesitation, it would be "DEAD MAN'S CHEST".


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