With the success a few years ago of Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (based on, would you believe it, a ride at Disney Land), it was inevitable that there would be a sequel. In fact there are two sequels, the first of them, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, having recently been released.
When we last left our intrepid heroes (and pirate), Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) had just escaped his just deserts at the end of a rope with the help of his two friends, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley). That the end of the Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl was not a fairy tale ending is marked by the situations our protagonists find themselves in at the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.
First, Will’s and Elizabeth’s wedding day has been ruined by a good, old fashioned Caribbean rain storm. This is followed quickly by a good, old fashioned British arrest warrant for aiding and abetting the escape of Captain Jack, which occurred at the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. This is followed in turn by a good old fashioned cinematic blackmail scene in which Will is given the following proposition: find Captain Jack, persuade him to part with a certain item, and he and Elizabeth can finally have that happy wedding day without having first to having an unhappy necktie party. Will goes forth in search of Jack, followed by Elizabeth (in men’s clothing.)
Meanwhile, Captain Jack is finding the free and easy life as a pirate not quite the bed of roses he thought it would be. For one thing, a few years ago, he incautiously made a deal with Davy Jones (yes, that one) for certain considerations in exchange for his soul. Well, times up and now he has to pay up. Since payment involves an eternity of damnation on board the Flying Dutchman (yes, that one), Captain Jack is seeking ways to avoid said payment.
Will finds the good Captain on an island, avoiding payment to Davy Jones, but not avoiding being cast in the role of both god and dinner to a tribe of cannibals. And that, gentle readers, is how our story finally begins.
What ensues is a rollicking tale of sword fights, sea battles, near escapes, family reunions, snappy one liners, and Johnny Depp’s swishing, oily version of an 18th Century pirate. There is an undead monkey, some comedy relief pirate crew, a voodoo priestess, the evil, slimy (literally), Davy Jones in all of his tentacled glory, a disgraced former Royal Navy Commodore, and finally the unexpected return of an old character.
We get to discover the answers to two burning questions. Does there beat the heart of a hero within the nefarious, treacherous pirate Jack Sparrow? And does there beat the heart of the pirate beneath of lovely bosom of the virtuous, heroic Elizabeth Swann?
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest suffers a little from being the middle of a trilogy. There is not the awesome sense of discovery inherent in the first movie. And Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is obviously a set up for movie three, to be entitled Pirates of the Caribbean: At Word’s End.
Still, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is great fun. It is one of the better times one will have for two and a half hours, in the dark and in public.