Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

In the city of Franchise, it doesn't matter what you do as long as you spend money. Dead Man's Chest (Pirates 2) is a complete na-na, but who cares? The effects and stunts are ostentatious and Johnny Depp (Capt Sparrow) is so camp he's an insult to the memory of Keith Richards.

It starts slow. There is a bewigged toff, called Lord Beckett, played by the miniscule, ever accommodating Tom Hollander, who appears to be top bow-wow in Portowhawoo, or wherever, in The Windies, and has the power to do whatever he likes - kill, steal, promote, exile, pardon, ignore.

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The betrothed love interest, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), have been condemned to death by this emotionless midget for deeds done in Pirates 1 and yet, within minutes, are free and dashing about like frisky salmon on a June evening.

You have to be savvy with P1 to understand what is going on here. The difficult question, not entirely answered by director Gore Verbinski, is whether this is pure farce, impure farce, comic adventure or a rip-roaring yarn.

Up until the appearance of the ghost ship, with its crew of terrifying grotesques (WARNING: not for young children), the film bogs down in incomprehensible ya-ya. There are three or four plotlines going off in different directions. Capt Sparrow appears to be the leader, or divine being, of a native tribe. Later, he is tied to a bamboo pole over a bonfire in preparation for their ceremonial feast (eating God? Surely not!) Elizabeth pops up, dressed as a cabin boy, on a merchant vessel, looking for Will, who is attempting to purloin Sparrow's magic compass for Beckett, but finds himself on the ghost ship, where he bumps into his dead dad... It gets sillier, trust me. Since the story is off its rocker and the movie goes on until next week (150 mins), what makes it almost worth watching are the set pieces. The CGI boys have been busy and the stuntmen are on perpetual overtime. The result is good enough to keep you awake and, in Bill Nighy's Davy Jones, a true piratical performance to relish. This creature - you can hardly call it a man - has an octopus for a face, a giant lobster claw for an arm, one leg and a still-beating heart lying in a chest, buried in the sand on an island somewhere. Compared to the late Mr Jones, Capt Tweet-Tweet is a fluttery bantam cock.

Knightley fits her tomboy role well and Bloom is surprisingly easy to bear. That leaves Depp, who overacts to the point of absurdity. It seems incredible to think that he was an Oscar contender for P1. His comic aspirations, borrowed from silent movies, fall short of funny. Even the character of Sparrow is lost in his enthusiastic mummery. Only the captain's hippy dress code passes muster.

Reviewed on: 07 Jul 2006
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Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest packshot
The continuing saga of comic pirates, a posh totty in drag, a ghost ship and the buried heart of Davy Jones.
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