Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest


Rating 2½

Directed by Gore Verbinski

Written by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, based on characters created by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie and Jay Wolpatt

Starring Johnny Depp (Captain Jack Sparrow), Orlando Bloom (Will Turner), Keira Knightley (Elizabeth Swann), Bill Nighy (Davy Jones), Jack Davenport (James Norrington), Jonathan Pryce (Weatherby Swann), Tom Hollander (Cutler Beckett), Stellan Skarsgård (Bootstrap Bill Turner), Lee Areberg (Pintel), Mackenzie Crook (Ragetti), Kevin McNally (Joshamee Gibbs) and Naomie Harris (Tia Dalma)

Lord Cutler Beckett arrests Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann in Port Royal, Jamaica, threatening execution to force Turner to hunt for the Pirate Captain Jack Sparrow and relieve him of his magic compass. The devious Sparrow and the crew of his ship the Black Pearl have been captured by cannibals on a tropical island. Following their escape they are pursued by Captain Davy Jones and the ghost ship the Flying Dutchman, as well as the legendary sea monster the Kraken.


‘Dead Man’s Chest’ is the second film in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise, produced by Walt Disney Pictures. It was directed by Gore Verbinski, whose previous films include ‘The Ring’, and was released in 2006. Its box office gross was a mind-boggling $1,066,179,725, against a production budget of $225 million, making it the fourth highest grossing film of all time (not taking into account inflation). It received mixed reviews and has a 53% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes from 212 reviews.

I enjoyed the first film ‘The Curse of the Black Pearl’, but I also found myself somewhat disappointed by it. I had the same reaction to ‘Dead Man’s Curse’. It’s expertly made, a master class of modern day effects-soaked action-adventure blockbusters, but it’s so bombastic and arrogant of its own hugeness that it lacks heart.

Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are unremittingly bland and charisma-free leads, but perhaps they need to be as an antidote to all the madcap mayhem being unleashed around them, much like Allan Jones (the father of the singer Jack Jones), who found himself playing the bland romantic lead in the anarchic Marx Brothers films ‘A Night at the Opera’ and ‘A Day at the Races’. Johnny Depp’s performance as Captain Jack Sparrow is little more than an impersonation of Keith Richards (who turns up in the third film, playing Captain Jack’s father), but is no less enjoyable for that and has played a big part in the success of the franchise.

At 150 minutes it is probably a little too long and it does become a bogged down and convoluted at times, but there is also a lot of humour and it is fun to watch. While I am often not especially impressed by CGI effects, the special effects here are superb. I particularly liked the Kraken.

‘Dead Man’s Chest’ was followed by ‘At World’s End’. A fourth instalment ‘On Stranger Tides’ has been announced, with Johnny Depp returning as Captain Jack Sparrow, although both Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley (who, in 2008, was the second highest paid actress in Hollywood) have both stated that they do not intend to reprise their roles.

Review posted 8 January 2010


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