Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

By Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Fair Use

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As surprisingly good as the first Pirates of the Caribbean film was, this sequel built upon it to add depth to the world, the story, and the characters. The plot follows on from the Curse of the Black Pearl, in that it begins with the central two non-pirate characters from the first film about to get married, but their ceremony is short-lived. The East India Company interrupts and charges the lowly blacksmith with stealing a compass from the infamous pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, who himself discovers his debt to Davy Jones is due.

The film is a non-stop barrage of action and excitement, as a true adventure should be, but throws in a dense double-crossing plot to boot which is heavy but never weighs down the narrative. Gore Verbinski returns as director, upping the ante with large-scale set-pieces. On several occasions there are three-way sword fights, but the inventiveness of their choreography means they never become monotonous, and the use of a water wheel in one is well-worked-out and wonderfully silly.

The main cast return from the first film, including Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow who delivers a solid performance once again. Orlando Bloom is a little less wooden than he was before, but still the weak point, yet there are tongue-in-cheek nods to this amongst the many moments of comedy that run through this film. Keira Knightley is also back, and has an opportunity to show immense internal conflict, which she does well. New additions include a sinister Tom Hollander, the kraken, a horde of seamonster-men, and a tentacled Bill Nighy. Everyone dives into what is a silly and ridiculous film with a sense of serious investment, so instead of it being a ridiculous flop it becomes a thrilling few hours of escapism.

There are some dark and unsettling moments in this film, as there were in the last, but that is all part of the world which Verbinski is building. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is a great sequel, and a very good film in its own right.