DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST (director: Gore Verbinski; screenwriters: Ted Elliott/Terry Rossio/based on characters created by Mr. Elliott, Mr. Rossio, Stuart Beattie and Jay Wolpert from Walt Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean"; cinematographer: Dariusz Wolski; editor: Craig Wood/Stephen Rivkin; music: Hans Zimmer; cast: Johnny Depp (Jack Sparrow), Orlando Bloom (Will Turner), Keira Knightley (Elizabeth Swann), Stellan Skarsgard (Bootstrap Bill), Bill Nighy (Davy Jones), Jack Davenport (Norrington), Kevin R. McNally (Gibbs), Jonathan Pryce (Gov. Weatherby Swann), Naomie Harris (Tia Dalma), Tom Hollander (Cutler Beckett), Lee Arenberg (Pintel), Mackenzie Crook (Ragetti), David Bailie (Cotton), David Schofield (Mercer), Martin Klebba (Marty); Runtime: 155; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Jerry Bruckheimer; Walt Disney Pictures; 2006)

 
"I think I could have had more fun at Disneyland waiting on long lines with noisy uncontrollable tykes running all around me."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Ho...ho...ho...and a bottle of rum. It's a bogus adventure tale that features cartoonish wall-to-wall swordplay, swashbuckling, special-effects, computer-generated imagery, juvenile slapstick comedy and a vacuous story and some ham acting that requires a strong stomach to appreciate. This theme-park attraction flick has become a highly profitable franchise for Disney (the original reportedly took in $653 million) and its crass producer Jerry Bruckheimer, as it continues with this middle part of its trilogy after opening a few years ago with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. The final installment is due out a year from now. "Dead Man's Chest" has no beginning and no end, which gives it the look of those old serial cliffhangers. It returns with the same director, Gore Verbinski, and mostly the same cast, as we reunite with old pirate friends decked out in outlandish costumes and star Johnny Depp as the pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, playing him again for laughs as a swish Keith Richards. The problem for Depp was that whatever mileage he got out of that bizarre characterization the first time around now becomes tiresome and not funny. Director Gore Verbinski tries hard to push every summer blockbuster action button and make it a family fun pic, but what results is an overlong bore that is made up of one messy inexplicable excessive scene after another. Whatever charm there might have been in the original (I didn't find much charm, but compared to this dreck...), cannot be found in the sequel. I tried to find something to like about it, but only felt relieved that it did come to an end even if it was an inconclusive end. 

There is a plot (which some might find hard to believe) that picks up where the first film left off as adventurer Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), the daughter of Caribbean island Governor Weatherby Swann (Jonathan Pryce), are arrested just before their wedding ceremony for abetting Sparrow in his escape from execution and now will face execution by the state. But Will is offered exoneration by meanie Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander) if he can find Sparrow and convince him to exchange his magical compass (you are pointed in the direction of what you want most) for a chance to get an official pardon and work for the English government. Will locates Sparrow and his Black Pearl crew as he's being chased by jungle savages while the crew are prisoners being dangled over a cliff in a basket. Later after that narrow escape, Will finds that Sparrow is worried about his debt to the supernatural captain of pirate evil spirits, Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), and plots to get back his soul from the Glaswegian rascal by using Will as bait. Nighby's performance emanates from a beard of his that is crawling with multiple octopus tentacles (it's that kind of a pic). When Sparrow confronts Jones, he must come up against the otherworldy creature's secret weapon of a deep-sea beastie that is used to swallow ships out in the open sea. For Sparrow, and now Will and Elizabeth who become linked with the pirate, salvation depends on locating the key to the chest that contains Jones' still-beating heart. Naomie Harris plays a witch whose role consists of clearing up plot points. There's also a reunion Will has with his long-lost real father Bootstrap Bill (Stellan Skarsgård), whose destiny is to sail for eternity with Jones and whose beard is of barnacles. Their meeting is supposed to be touching, but nothing in this film beats with any human emotions. The script by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio is waterlogged and rotten to the core.

The weak and unnecessarily complicated story line would just about fill an hour feature film, but at over two hours there's no way it can justify that length. For a film that was supposed to be fun, I found it pure hell to take in all the  meaningless action and endless banter and empty gestures. I think I could have had more fun at Disneyland waiting on long lines with noisy uncontrollable tykes running all around me.

REVIEWED ON 7/8/2006        GRADE: D

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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