Shorter title, more supernatural and swashbuckling fun.
A short time has passed since “the curse” was lifted from The Black Pearl. Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) find themselves under arrest on their wedding day hours before saying their vows. Enter Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander) with the power of the East India Trading Company behind him as well as the British Crown. Becket offers Turner a deal: find Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and barter his “broken” compass to save his and Elizabeth’s life. Meanwhile, Sparrow has his own problems as well, one in the form of a debt owed to Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), a supernatural entity in command of the mythcal “Flying Dutchman” and who has the ability to summon the equally legendary sea monster, The Kraken. For whatever reason each has, it turns out that everyone is really after is the contents of one dead man’s chest…
When director Gore Verbinski unleashed Curse of the Black Pearl, no one but those making it had any idea the megahit in the making they had. People who don’t like movies enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean, and wasn’t the name of that old ride at Disneyland? The mix of piracy on the high seas and supernatural elements set the stage while Johnny Depp’s Capt. Sparrow stole the rest of the show. Curse of the Black Pearl was everything a summer blockbuster was supposed to be and audiences everywhere voted with their dollars; the sequel was inevitable.
The great news is that all your favorite characters are back, but just as in life, things change. Their were consequences to the actions taken in the first film, and Verbinski wastes no time unveiling his continuing plot built solidly on the foundation of the first. Fans of the first film and sticklers for plot points will wallow in the Dead Man’s Chest storyline, even to the point of figuring a few things out ahead of the audience and sometimes the characters.
In fact, there is so much happening and so many new characters being introduced that it might be hard for some to keep up short of multiple viewings. There are the usual nitpicks, such as how convenient all the favorite characters seem to arrive in the nick of time, or how quickly people seem to get around the Caribbean (with or without a ship). Viewers could also point out how much more graphic the deaths are and the number of deaths occurring (nothing funny about that) or how Bill Nighy’s Davey Jones doesn’t seem anywhere nearly as sinister as Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa. And lastly, this is the middle part of an already-in-progress trilogy with the last film not coming out until next year, and yes, there is a cliffhanger to be had (and bit of fun after the credits, too).
With more story, more characters, more double-crossing, more surprises, more effects, and more of just everything, it’s actually pretty amazing how well everything works together. The two-and-a-half-hour plus running time flies by just as quickly as it did for Curse of the Black Pearl, so don’t blame the filmmakers if you’re out of breath by the time the credits roll. Unless you just really hate this entire franchise and nothing you’ve read here could ever change your mind (in which case you probably stopped reading this long before you could have gotten this far), only one question remains: can Verbinski and Co. pull this trick off a third time yet?
(a four skull recommendation out of four)