Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

potcdmcThis is, without question, my favorite of the Pirates films. The first is a fun movie, diverting, enjoyable. The third is an overly ambitious mess. The fourth is a lifeless cash-grab.

But Dead Man’s Chest has everything I want in this kind of movie, and then some. It builds nicely on the first film, following up on Will and Elizabeth’s romance, Jack’s flirtation with Elizabeth, Jack’s mysterious non-working compass. It builds in new complexity where it can, with the arc for Norrington mining some real character drama. And it does all this without really recycling. This time around, there aren’t undead zombies to fight… there are sort-of-undead sea-creature-people to fight. There’s not Geoffrey Rush chewing the scenery, there’s Bill Nighy (as Davy Jones) fricking devouring it. (All the time masked in some of the best CG makeup ever.) Along with supernatural bad guys, there are the regular flesh and blood ones, embodied in the East India Company, personified by Tom Hollander’s Beckett, who is as still and calm as Jones isn’t.

There are great action sequences throughout this film, but my favorite is a three-way sword fight between Norrington, Sparrow and Will Turner. With such an intricate plot, it’s entirely reasonable to have these three people with opposing goals, none of whom are actually evil, at odds with each other. The fight is just ridiculous enough to make me happy. That’s a fine line, but Verbinski walks it perfectly.

There are so many other details worth mentioning. The clever interpretation of the title. The correct usage of the term kraken. Stellan Skarsgård breathing life into a character mentioned, off-hand, in the previous film.

I can almost forgive the filmmakers making At World’s End so over-the-top because, along the way, they gave me this delightful confection of a film, with one of the finest cinema cliffhangers ever.

Orlando Bloom was in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest with Jack Davenport. Jack Davenport was in…

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