The last time I saw any of the Pirates of the Caribbean films was in the cinema. Given that I will be writing about pirates fairly soon (and that HMV had the blu-rays for cheap) I figured it’s about time I returned to give the franchise another watch. I’ll be doing one each Sunday, continuing today with part two, Dead Man’s Chest.
Perhaps a contentious opinion, but this was more like it! When I think of Pirates of the Caribbean I think of Davy Jones and Cutler Beckett and Bootstrap Bill and the Flying Dutchman… All things introduced in Dead Man’s Chest.
The whole cursed skeleton pirates thing aside, Curse of the Black Pearl had a more realistic tone than I was expecting. Dead Man’s Chest took the best of that film, and just kicked it all into high fantasy. The second and third films got a lot of criticism for this change in direction, but like I said before, when I think of Pirates of the Caribbean I think of the massive scope contained in these films.
The thing that Dead Man’s Chest has going for it moreso than the first film is consistency. Whereas I felt the first one lost itself a little in its second half, the second one kept me engaged throughout. I loved the fun escape from the cannibal island, the scenes in the middle with Will on the Flying Dutchman, and the massive ridiculous fight over the key and the heart at the end.
I said last time that Gore Verbinski has an excellent eye for action, and he proves it again here, letting it absolutely shine in the waterwheel fight. With the action scenes in this part often involving three or more combatants, it would have been very easy for them to get lost, but everything feels fluid and right. Even the scenes of Elizabeth, Pintel, and Ragetti trying to fight off the Dutchman’s crew with only two swords between them.
If there is a criticism to be had, it’s that by itself Dead Man’s Chest feels sort of incomplete. Don’t get me wrong, the main arc of everyone chasing after the heart is wrapped up, and there’s a definite three act structure here. But most of the plot points are left dangling to be picked up in the sequel.
Which I will watch next week in part three of the series, At World’s End.
1. Dead Man’s Chest – Retains the fun of the first film while introducing a more epic fantasy story and maintaining a more consistent quality throughout.
2. Curse of the Black Pearl – A fun, lighthearted pirate adventure that is let down slightly by not being able to maintain its excellent quality going into its second half.