Megan Basham

This is one review in which I will never have to issue the warning, "Spoiler Alert". Oh, sure, I could reveal a few minor shifts and surprises, but it would be impossible to give away the ending to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest because it doesn’t have one.

What it does have is a lot of pratfalling, a lot of swordplay, and a lot of special effects. And interestingly, while it has also has a lot of plot lines, it doesn’t have much of a story. This isn’t to say that Pirates redux is without its charms—any film that showcases the phenomenal acting talent of Johnny Depp is bound to hold some appeal—but it certainly doesn’t match its predecessor for sheer enjoyment value.

Much like the first film, undead sailors are once again hot on the trail of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) get mixed up in the pursuit. Arrested on their wedding day for previously helping Jack evade the long arm of British law, influential officer Lord Cutler Beckett of the East India Company (Tom Hollander) assures them they can earn a pardon by retrieving an enchanted compass in Jack’s possession. Jack, however, is of no mind to give the treasure up as it is the only thing that can keep Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and his crew of half-men/half-fish from dragging Jack down to the squid skipper’s mythical locker.

After this the film piles on subplot after subplot involving island cannibals, voodoo priestesses, and Will’s pirate father, all intersecting and dissecting each other like a mass of wriggling sea serpents. If only so much energy were expended on the players, who, with the exception of Bloom, bring a sense of exuberance to the production despite being bogged down in relentless displays of big-budget effects. Nighy as Davy Jones ramps up the fun every time the tightly choreographed action allows him a moment to breathe, as does Mackenzie Crook as a one-eyed tag-along pirate with a philosophical bent, but unfortunately those moments too far and few between.

Megan Basham

Megan Basham is the author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide To Having It All

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