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Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is back. This time, he has to find the key to a chest that contains the heart of Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), the captain of the Flying Dutchman – or lose his soul to Jones. Also back are Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) – just before they get married, they are arrested for helping the pirate Jack Sparrow escape (see PIRATES OF THE THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL). Turner and Swann are given a choice: the gallows – or find and retrieve Captain Jack Sparrow’s magic compass for the East India Trading Company so they can find the key, the chest and the heart to gain control over Davy Jones, the Flying Dutchman and the Seas.

THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL came out of nowhere, it was big, loud, colorful and surprising – a pirate film in a time where pirate films were dead, Johnny Depp in a Disney movie version of a theme park ride, a pirate-horror-fantasy crossover with undead pirates. Is DEAD MAN’S CHEST a sequel, and does it suffer the curse of the sequel that it can never be better than the original? Or is it not a sequel, but part of a trilogy – like THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK – and can it break the spell? Part Three, after all, was filmed back to back with DEAD MAN’S CHEST already.

Randy: Oh please! By definition alone, sequels are inferior films!
Mickey: How about Empire Strikes Back. Improved graphics. Better storyline.
Randy: Not a sequel, part of a trilogy, completely planned.

We do have the better graphics – Davy Jones’ crew of undead sailors are the improved version of the shoddy skeleton pirates of part one, and the huge Kraken is as good as it gets. But let’s face it – the shoddy skeletons did have more charme than the technically superior ugly sailors of Davy Jones. Better storyline? Negative. The “story” is just an excuse for one action-sequence after another action-sequence after another one. But while there are some great and entertaining action scenes, they do get redundant after a while, and the movie is 150 minutes long. And whenever we are stuck with Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley or anybody else who is not Johnny Depp, time seems to pass slower and slower.

Note to producer Jerry Bruckheimer: Putting one CGI-enhanced action sequence after the other doesn’t necessarily make a good film. The audience wants, needs and deserves characters worth caring for so they care about the outcome of a dangerous situation – or a movie!
What’s the first part’s image that lingers in the memories of the audience? Captain Jack Sparrow, proudly landing his sinking ship in the port – not any action scene.
And the best remembered and mostly quoted scene in DEAD MAN’S CHEST will be “Hide the rum“!
Or, just maybe, it will be the scene where Captain Sparrow bravely goes into the darkness after kissing the girl (just like Han Solo in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK) – but mainly because this scene instills the fear that there will be less of Captain Sparrow in part three.

DEAD MAN’S CHEST is big, loud, and colorful – a Disney version of a theme park ride with Johnny Depp in it, a pirate-horror-fantasy-crossover – but it’s not a surprise, and it doesn’t offer any surprises. It’s the same with more CGI and more money, but less charme, and definitly too long, just saved by Johnny Depp’s over the top performance.

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