Here’s my disclaimer; this will probably sound like a pan of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, but I enjoyed the movie well enough. It’s just that there were so many things that didn’t live up to Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.
The first thing that struck me was that it wasn’t as fun a movie. Sure, there were some entertaining parts, like when the crew is stuck on an island of cannibals, and the fight sequences when they find the chest are, I think, innovative (although when the water wheel became unattached from the mill I rolled my eyes a little, but I enjoyed the stunts enough there to overlook it). The problem is that the whole movie just didn’t seem as light-hearted as the first, which I think is part of what people loved about it. I’m not saying Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest should have been completely devoid of darkness; I like dark movies, but I think it just lost some of its twinkle, some of the retro swashbuckling appeal that is so hard to pull off these days, but which Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl did so well.
None of the principle returning characters were, in my opinion, much improved. Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow is now in command of his beloved Black Pearl, so he had to be shown at least in part as an able ship’s captain, which took away some of his befuddled conniving ways. There was still some great dialogue, particularly between him and his first mate, Gibbs, played by Kevin McNally. I think what bothered me most is that the last instance of Jack Sparrow seemed, to me, to depict him as always scheming and being a step or two ahead of everyone else, all the while portraying himself as a drunken ninny. Or maybe he was a drunken ninny, but was still able to think fast enough to stay ahead of everyone. He also seemed to value his friends, even when it looked like he was betraying them, but in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, he is definitely out for himself and nobody else. He is a coward, until the end when he trades much of his drunken swagger for a couple of heroic poses. It just didn’t seem totally fitting. I did like when he was running daintily along narrow beams trying to keep up with one of the fights though.
Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner has come into his own in this movie, appearing dressed as though he’s met with some success since the last movie. In that though, he has lost his surprising underdog personality and now seems to comand some respect, shouting orders and leading men in defending against assults by watery pirates and giant sea monsters. Will Turner seemed to have grown up a bit between movies.
Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Swann irritated me some this time around, the writers having decided to put her in a bit of an, in my opinion, unconvincing love triangle (maybe even a quadrangle). To top it off she uses her sexuality as a bit of a weapon, which is a little disappointing as I think the whole thing sullies her character’s integrity and I think it makes Elizabeth look flighty and indecisive. I wouldn’t be surprised if, by the end of the third movie, Elizabeth Swann decides she isn’t going to marry Will Turner after all. I did like the scenes where she was fighting though, particularly when she and two of the pirates kept swapping swords while fighting the minions of Davy Jones.