Gore Verbinski, 2006, US, 150 mins
Cast: Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, Bill Nighy
Review by Carol Allen
Episode two of the theme park ride that became a movie franchise. It has all the elements of a big event movie – star names, spectacle, action and comedy. Johnny Depp as mockney-accented pirate king, Captain Jack Sparrow, is a real crowd-pleaser – a cowardly, charming rogue, who is very funny in a theatrically camp way, with his extravagant make-up and gold teeth. As heroine Elizabeth Swan, Knightley doesn’t have a lot to do until some considerable way into the film, when she effectively disguises herself as a ship's cabin boy, while Bloom as her fiancé, Will Turner, is an effective foil to Depp, albeit a little lightweight. In many ways, Jack Sparrow could carry the film with different "straight men" and we wouldn’t miss them that much.
The story revolves around a Faustian pact Jack has made in his chequered past with Davy Jones, king of the deep and captain of the ghost ship Flying Dutchman. Unless crafty Jack can find a way out, he will be condemned to an eternity of damnation in Jones's service. Fans of Bill Nighy will not recognise him as Davy Jones; he has a strong Scottish accent and lies hidden under a ton of impressive prosthetics, which make him look like an octopus wearing clothes and walking upright. Stellan Skarsgard is effective and also unrecognisable as Will’s long-lost dad, now one of Davy's slaves. And there are good supporting performances from Tom Hollander as the villainous East India Company official, who has his eye on the treasure he thinks is in the dead man's chest of the title, and Jonathan Pryce as Elizabeth's justifiably worried-looking father.
There are some brilliantly imaginative slapstick sequences, including one where Jack, having been tied to a spit in readiness for roasting by a tribe of cannibals, somehow manages to get various fruits skewered onto said spit and makes his escape somersaulting down a mountain like a giant animated kebab, and another where Depp, Bloom and Jack Davenport - whose place in the story I never did figure out - get involved in wild swordplay inside a giant wheel, which is reeling across the landscape. However, whereas the first Pirates burst onto the screen as an inventively funny and original piece of work, there are times when this feels as though they thought up the big set pieces first and then built the story around them. It doesn’t seem to have the same narrative energy and sense of fun as the original and is suffering from “sequelitis”. And I fear there will be certain ethnic minority audience members, who will find the depiction of the natives who capture Jack as somewhat racist. Also, the lovely Naomi Harris, also unrecognisable under heavy and unbecoming make-up, plays a voodoo woman, with a Caribbean accent that is so strong, I didn’t understand a word she said. The film is also overlong, with a climactic battle towards the end which seems to go on for weeks.
It is, however, an entertaining enough spectacle and worth seeing for Johnny Depp alone. Although he makes a heroic final exit, we know he's been filming a sequel, and as the last scene signals it anyway, be sure that, like The Terminator, he will be back.
Buena Vista Home Entertainment have
announced the UK Region 2 DVD release of Pirates of the
Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest for 20th November 2006.
Available as a two-disc collector's edition extra include...
Bloopers of the Caribbean
Charting the Return Documentary: Visit the filmmaker’s war room
for an insightful look on how these creative minds expanded the Pirates’ Universe
to build new stories.
According to Plan Documentary: Experience the challenges of this major
movie production through the eyes of the filmmakers, crew and cast.
Captain Jack: From Head to Toe: Interactive feature that reveals the secrets
behind the trinkets and treasures that make up Jack’s ensemble
Mastering the Blade: Sword fighting with the stars of the film – Orlando
Bloom, Keira Knightley and Jack Davenport
Meet Davy Jones: Anatomy of a Legend: Discover the creation, mystery and
mythology of the Sea’s Ghostly Ruler, which was brought to life through
live-action acting and 3-D CG graphics.
Creating the Kraken: Investigate up close how a mythological creature
can destroy a real full-size ship.
Dead Men Tell New Tales: Experience the refurbishment of the famous Disney
attraction with Johnny Depp.
Fly on the Set: A segment of the script comes to life as the actors experience
their first “ride” in the bone cage.
Pirates on Main Street: The Dead Man's Chest Premiere The films’ stars
take to the red carpet for the premiere party at Disneyland.
Jerry Bruckheimer: A Producer's Photo Diary: Bruckheimer’s passion
for photography captures behind-the-scenes moments in his photo diary, which
includes commentary from this world-renowned producer.