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PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST, 2006
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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest,   MOVIE POSTERPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, 2006
Movie Reviews

Directed by Gore Verbinski
Starring Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Bill Nighy, Keira Knightly, Jack Davenport, Stellan SkarsgŚrd
Review by Andrew Kosarko


SYNOPSIS:

Blacksmith Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and his upper-class love Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) are preparing to wed when they are confronted with a warrant for their arrests because they helped the notorious pirate Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) escape the authorities. Their only choice for a pardon is to find Jack and return to Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) with the flamboyant captain's compass. Will's attempt to track Jack down, however, becomes an adventure unto itself: Jack is being held captive on an island where the natives think he is a god. To make matters worse, the infamous Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and his Flying Dutchman crew are after Jack, seeking his soul to repay a debt. With his beard of tentacles and a lobster claw for a hand, heartless Jones is no mere mortal. He and his men are slowly evolving, taking on the attributes of various sea creatures, and with the help of a giant sea monster, the Kraken, they rule the waters. Seeking respite from his fate with Davy Jones, Jack enlists the aid of Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris), a practitioner of the supernatural, in an effort to locate the Dead Man's Chest that supposedly contains Jones's still-beating heart. Whoever possesses the heart controls Jones, and thereby controls the seas. And so the adventure continues as Jack, Will, and the Black Pearl crew track down the Flying Dutchman in search of redemption.

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REVIEW:

The first film was a smash hit, as the clichť goes. It was fresh, new, original and just captivating. The problem that lies within a sequel to something like that is that the challenge is much higher to re-capture that freshness. In my honest opinion, this film maintains the level of plot and characterization as the first film, pushing our Pirate world into a newer, more fantastical territory.

The Story: The wonderful thing about the first film was that the curse of the black pearl allowed us to stray beyond the general pirate lore of gun fire and treasure. There was a fantastical mix between the supernatural and the real. This go around mixed those elements together with a more scientific monstrosity with Davy Jones and the Kraken. Itís well structured and the characterization is still there. Although, at times, the writers tried to be too safe and repeated jokes and scenarios from the first film. Itís not even funny to those of us who loved those moments. In fact, it makes my skin crawl a bit to watch it from how awful the repetitive is. But overall, the plot structure is semi-solid, becoming shaky only around the father-son relationship between Will and his father. It lacks a real emotional impact and is hard to figure out what the hell is going on most of the time.

Acting: Johnny Depp keeps up the good work as Sparrow, but the real attention goes to Nighy for his portrayl of Davy Jones. He really gives us a over the top villain without being too over the top. Tom Hollander also does a stand up job as the sniveling Cutler Beckett. The only drops are in performances from Bloom and Knightley. Knightley does the better job of the two with her possible love affair with Capt. Jack, but Bloom seems to just play Will Turner on one single emotion and motivation the entire time. Heís too simple. Whether itís the writing or acting, the character of Will Turner is supposed to be the heart of everything, and heís not this go around.

Directing: Gore Verbinski handles the story elements well. Heís able to introduce new characters and fantastical elements in to the mythology without breaking tone. He furthers the story and keeps the audience interested and entertained. The action is still well done, especially given his prior experience is lacking in that department. It all comes to a solid sequel.

Cinematography: Whatís missing from this film is that warm glow from the first film. Itís not so much a sepia tone, but just a afternoon at the beach type lighting. Instead, we have a cold and distant tone resonating from our blue and green lighting. Maybe it fits the tone for the monsters of our film, but used start to finish really breaks continuity for the franchise.

Production Design: Really well done overall. The sets are all set within that time period and reflect the bigger budget the film makers have this time around. The costumes are all interesting and the make up design is superb. However, now everyone is dirty with charcoal as Jack Sparrow was after the first film.

Editing: The story is well paced, and once again, Iím not sure of where the fault lies, but it seems as though the editing was trying to cover up the problems of that part of the story.

Score: Hans Zimmer steps up and takes the reigns of this film and it shows. While the score doesnít re-hash the same cue several times, the music expands upon the themes we encountered in the first film. The Krakenís theme itself could be a theme for an entire film.

Special Effects: Hereís the part I love the most about this film. If any of you have read my prior reviews, you know Iím not a fan of CGI. Well, this film, I am a fan of itís CGI. Itís much better than the first installment and the work done on Davy Jones and his crew is so realistic itís *almost* seamless. The kraken is a little more obvious, but even still, the facial detail on the characters is enough to keep you very close to suspending your disbelief.

In closing: Dead Manís Chest is a solid film. It falls slightly behind the first film due to the lack of importance or interest in Will Turnerís story but as a whole, all the other elements fall into line and work just as well as Black Pearl. The plot gets a bit questionable at places but in the end is emotionally satisfying. And thatís all you can really ask for with a movie about Pirates and giant squids.

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