The Odd Man and the Sea

I really liked the first “Pirates” movie. When I watched it in the movie theater on the summer of 2003, I was almost sure it would be a dud walking the plank. Luckily, I was wrong. I didn’t sit to watch a movie; I was there to watch a performance. Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow is a complete entertainment all in itself. Did I care where the plot was taking me to? No, I’d willingly go anywhere, as long as I get to watch Jack Sparrow in action.

Now three years later, the “Pirates” series has a watered-down freshness. Furthermore, it’s now up against tsunami-high expectations. What does the sequel “Dead Man’s Chest” uses to float on and survive? A heavy and complex plot. Oh boy, somebody call a lifeguard – stat! What the movie really needed was a buoyant story to support Jack Sparrow’s shenanigans. But no, the bloated story wants to be the star! Booooo! I went to the theater to see a performance, not a movie, for crying out loud.

The beginning of the movie is all blah-blah exposition. There’s a complicated and contrived explanation as to why lovers Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) are prevented from marrying. It’s all part of the fancy plotline to connect to Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), which, in my opinion, takes too much time and stalls much of the fun. It is only when the story takes a detour when the movie really comes alive. I’m referring to the events that occur in an isle inhabited by cannibals. It could have been cut out because it has nothing to do with the overall story, but hands-down, it’s the movie’s high point. The scenes were funny, rousing with thrills, executed with creative flair, and above all, highly entertaining. If the movie had aimed for that kind of vigor, it would have out-paddled the first movie easily. Alas, the movie strived to flood the movie with too much storytelling and I almost sunk in frustration.

But how can the movie totally sink? Johnny Depp is so light on his toes, that he could be Jesus walking on water. He’s still a miracle to watch, although he seems to be less prominent here than in the previous film. Considerable screen time and storylines are devoted to Will and Elizabeth, although the characters seem to be slaves to the story. Will is no longer the love struck dreamer I fondly remember. Elizabeth, freed from constricted gowns, doesn’t look like the pretty damsel with the geeky knowledge of pirates anymore. As for the main villain, Davey Jones (who has an octopus for a face) is an interesting “special effect” creation, but I miss Captain Barbossa, whom Geoffrey Rush gamely played with indelible grrrr.

It seems like I’ve loaded this review with complaints. Don’t worry, I won’t pull the trigger and shoot down the movie with a rotten rating. I’m actually anticipating the next sequel. Despite its flaws, “Dead Man’s Chest” has its share of fun and it’s bearable for more than two hours. It’s still true what I said before: I’d willingly go anywhere, as long as I get to watch Jack Sparrow in action. Here’s hoping the next “Pirates” will be better. Rum for everyone.

Grade: B

Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, Stellan Skarsgård, Naomie Harris, Jonathan Pryce, and Tom Hollander
Screenplay by
Stuart Beattie
Jay Wolpert
Directed by
Gore Verbinski
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of adventure violence, including frightening images