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July 11, 2006

-- Movie review --

A spectacular Dead Man's Chest

By Samantha Perez

Having waited for this movie since its predecessor Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl hit theaters in 2003, I was extremely thrilled as opening night approached. 

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Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow

What impressed me about The Curse of the Black Pearl was — well, everything. The characters, the music, the special effects, the plot, the wit ... everything was spectacular.

Jack Sparrow, played by teen heartthrob Johnny Depp, is one of the most unique characters in any movie, and his performance won Depp his first Oscar nomination. The ride in Disney World from which this series is based won my heart as a child, and the movies have certainly given the magic of the ride its due justice. 

Unaware that The Curse of the Black Pearl would fare so well in box offices, producers and writers made the first movie more of a self-sustaining package. There was a beginning that introduces the characters, a middle where they develop, and an ending that left viewers content. A sequel was not necessary, and the story within the movie was complete. Will and Elizabeth are paired together, and Jack regains the Pearl and the sea. 

However, unlike the first, Dead Man’s Chest is completely entwined with the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie, due for theatrical release next summer. This second installment continues to break the bonds made in the first movie and to drive Jack from both the Pearl and the ocean.

Davy Jones, who raised the Black Pearl from the depths of the sea and allowed Jack Sparrow to be her captain for 13 years in exchange for his soul, has come to claim the debt owed to him. Will (Orlando Bloom) meets his father, Bootstrap Bill, who was once part of the mutinous crew that overthrew Jack and marooned him. Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) finds herself torn by “curiosity” and the alluring prospect of doing just what she wants when she wants, even if it means leaving fiancée Will. 

The surprising end of the movie leaves viewers with many unanswered questions, especially with the mysterious return of a certain Curse of the Black Pearl character. As much as fans may speculate, nothing will be certain until the next movie is released. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski always keep you guessing. 

The visual effects of the movie are astonishing, and Davy Jones and his crew are masterpieces. All members of the crew aboard The Flying Dutchmen begin to take on characteristics of the ocean after a certain amount of time, and the sights are eye candy. Bootstrap Bill has barnacles growing on his skin and a starfish at his temple. One of the crew has the face of a hammerhead shark. Davy Jones himself, with his tentacles flowing along his precious organ, is a wonder. Most impressive, however, is the Kraken, the legendary sea monster who does Davy Jones’ bidding.  Watching the effects as the Kraken destroys the ships earns Dead Man’s Chest another gold star of excellence. 

The dialogue of the movie is also, as before, top-notch. Many hilarious references are made of the first movie, and the jokes are as clever as ever. The writing is fantastic and adds to the brilliance and majesty of the plot. My favorite line in the movie was after Will Turner is thought to be lost to the sea, and Davy Jones darkly reminds us, “I am the sea.” 

Dead Man’s Chest is about the emotional progression of characters. Jack finds himself willing to sacrifice his friends to save his own life, and Elizabeth begins to question her devotion to Will. In the end (careful, SPOILER ALERT), Elizabeth — who spent a good chunk of the first movie screaming “You’re a pirate!” in disgust — becomes a pirate herself. 

The musical score is once again fantastic. While not typical swashbuckling melodies, Hans Zimmer delivers a work of art. From the spine-tingling, bone-chilling organ motif of Davy Jones to the awe-inspiring, I-can-take-on-the-world main theme, the soundtrack is worth your dollar. Best Buy even offers a special edition version of the CD, which includes two extra songs.

My only fault in the movie is the bit of hastiness in the beginning. It’s rushed in establishing characters, especially the new arrival of East India Trading Company official Lord Beckett. To save Elizabeth from Beckett, Will hurries to find Jack. There is a lot of running around for a little, and people who are unfamiliar with the first movie might find this discomforting. The movie expects you to remember the plot of the first movie, but for diehard fans this is no problem and even sort of a bonus in Dead Man’s Chest. Instead of mind-numbingly explaining what happened in The Curse of the Black Pearl, the producers expect you to do that for yourself. 

I wholeheartedly recommend Dead Man’s Chest to anyone who wants to watch a movie with terrific acting and a compelling blend of action, fantasy, and humor. It’s certainly worth the price of the ticket and the lengthy previews before the start of the show.


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