by: Kevin J. Loria
Johnny Depp, Oscar-nominated for the role of Capt. Jack Sparrow, possible the best-worst pirate ever owing a life debt to Davey Jones, Captain of the Flying Dutchman, another cursed ship. Also returning, Orlando Bloom as Wil Turner, the decent colonialist, who in the spirit of Flynn’s CAPTAIN BLOOD, is drawn into the pirate’s life along with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swann.Wil and Elizabeth are arrested instead of wed and slated to be executed for their part in Sparrow’s escape. Wil cuts a deal to bring Jack;s quirky compass in return for a pardon for he and Elizabeth. The three become involved in Sparrow’s struggle to free himself of eternal servitude onboard the Flying Dutchman, along with “Bootstrap” Bill Turner aka Wil’s Dad. Captain Jack and Wil Turner’s unlikely friendship continues in one misadventure after another, with more returning character’s from the original than you can swash a buckle with, like Elizabeth’s father Governor Wetherby Swann (Jonathan Pryce), the lovable buffoons Pintel and Ragetti (Lee Arenberg and MacKenzie Crook), first mate Gibbs (Kevin McNally) and the fallen Commodore James Norrington (Jack Davenport).
Director of the original, Gore Verbinski again throws the pirates into one amusing action sequence after another, from island cannibals, to an inevitable bar fight, some Treasure Island homages, battles with barnacled minions of Davey Jones and a runaway mill-wheel-three-way duel between Jack/Wil/Norrington that is worth the price of admission and beverages.
Depp’s swaggering-staggering Sparrow makes any scene fascinating with his rock star take on pirates. But be WARNED: Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3 were produced back-to-back to allow for quicker release of two, meaning Dead Man’s Chest is “a link film.” And for those of us who endured the ending wait between The Empire Strikes Back and Jedi, you know what I mean. Pirates 2, ends with a bit of a cliffhanger which is always risky. The ending leaves almost nothing resolved and no villain thwarted.
The locales as breath-taking and effects are as stunning as the original, in particular the ship swallowing Kracken. Sadly the brilliant Bill Nighy as Davey Jones is wasted as the overly CGI and effect laden character, who could have been anyone and was less striking than the previous films nemesis. In fact, I would rather see Nighy play Sparrow’s dad (who was supposed to be briefly in the 3 movie due out in 2007)