Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

This film will be a blockbuster and the reason why is Johnny Depp.  As they say 'He's the Man.'  He is also the charismatic glue that holds together this uneven sequel to the hugely successful original Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. 

Depp is the clear front runner in this summer's blockbuster race!

Depp for Disney translates to summer treasure chests that are overflowing with doubloons.  Having taken a page out the Matrix series, Disney has filmed back to back editions of the Pirates trilogy and I see in my crystal ball all of us plopping down our ten spots next summer for the final film:   At World's End.  Generally, the middle spot of a trilogy can often be the trickiest to pull off and Dead Man's Chest showcases some obvious challenges.

Firstly, the film is way too long.  2/12 hours of an action adventure is wearing, regardless of how many hair extensions and swords are flying across the screen. More than anyone, Disney should know if they are hawking a family film, that some of the family buying tickets will be under ten years old.  I wound up sandwiched between two 8 year olds and watched one of them develop serious ADD about 100 minutes in.  The other looked me squarely in the eye and in full voice asked 'Is this over yet?'  In addition, for a Disney flick there are some pretty gruesome visuals so keep that in mind if you're toting any sensitive tots to the film.  The image of a raven plucking out a guy's eye can stick with a kid for a lifetime.

Swishing and Swashbuckling - Captain Jack is back!

The real joy, and heart of the film, is Depp's portrayal of the ever swishy Captain Jack Sparrow. Watching Depp play Sparrow again validates the actor's Oscar nomination first time around.  Yet never in a million years would I have expected a studio as uptight as Disney to present a male character that was in ANY way, shape or form effeminate or exhibiting stereotypical gay mannerisms.  I had heard that there was this entire hullabaloo about Depp's origination of the character in the first film.  Disney got very frigid when they first saw Captain Jack. 

But when the money started hitting the bank Disney forgot all about it.  Suddenly Depp portrayal is a work of genius - not threatening but clever not gay, just fun!  It's important to note that Depp's acting is in no way offensive to gay men Sparrow is who he is.  You can't make conclusions about what Sparrow is or capable of. In fact, he is as manly as they come and holsters a reputation to back it up.  He may swish a bit, but he'll also chew on human thumbs and cut your throat without hesitation.  And Johnny Depp is a cool guy he wouldn't slag gays.

A pirate's heart beats within the sought after treasure chest!

So Sparrow is nellie as ever posing, and prancing his way back into our hearts.  We even forget that Captain Jack is a genuine scoundrel and his primary concern is himself alone.   He would make his own mother walk the plank if it served his ends.  And we love him for it.

The plotline:  Jack sometime in the past promised his soul to Davy Jones in exchange for a favor and now its payback time. Jack's best hope for wiggling out of the promise, and for salvation, is finding the 'Dead Man's Chest', where within Davy's mortal - and still beating - heart is stashed. Whoever controls Davy's heart controls him.  You will also be in charge of a nasty gargantuan sized squid like monster known as the Kracken that can snap a ship in two in less than 3 minutes.  To get to the trunk is one thing first one needs to find the key that will open it.  The amazing race is on!

Depp towers over Bloom when it comes to screen charisma.

At the same time Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) are arrested back home for aiding in Depp's escape from his execution in the first film.  It's the gallows for both of them but there is one chance to avoid the hangman's noose.  Will and betrothed will be pardoned if Will can track Sparrow down and exchange an official pardon for the pirate's magical compass.   This mysterious compass will point the way to the sought after chest.

I loved Orlando Bland' .I mean Bloom as Legolis in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but none of his subsequent performances has registered on my radar since.  He doesn't have the sexy charisma that is an absolute must for a romantic lead.  The audience has to be attracted to you, want to be intimate with you' .fawn over you.   I guess Bloom must have some fans that do just that, but I don't see it.  Unfortunately for Bloom, Depp has charisma in abundance so he pales even more in comparison.  Fortunately for us, the love story has taken a back seat to the hunt for the hidden chest so we don't have to care about it.

Wedding bell blues for Katherine. We're not sure WHO she has the hots for. She's lip-locking everyone!

Keira Knightly should be nominated for an Oscar for 'Best Wallpaper in an Action Film.'  She is pretty in a strangely alien-like way but her character this time around lacks the feisty defiance that we saw in the original.  Here she is very 'girly' and her performance doesn't invigorate or invoke any interest.   The only question we are left with regarding her Elizabeth is wondering who exactly she has the hots for.  Is it Jack, Will, or her old flame Norrington (Jack Davenport).  Unfortunately Knightly is also forced to perform doses of shtick.   In one particularly weak scene on a beach she is trying to get the attention of her sword fighting cohorts.  Her antics to get their attention are embarrassing.  They ignore her and you should too.

There are however a couple of spanky new characters that light up the screen. One is the slimy, squidish, most devilish Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) who captains the Flying Dutchman and gambles the souls of his captive crew.  The undead aboard the phantom ship are equally repulsive aquatic creations and sail below and above the seas in eternal bondage to Jones.  They are definitely not warm and cuddly Disney creatures.

The mesmorizing Naomie Harris as the swamp witch Tia Dalma

The other great presence is the dreadlocked, black-toothed sorceress Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) who calls home a hazy, dark swamp.  Harris is riveting on the screen, alluring and bewitching - she beguiles not only the other characters, but the viewers as well.  When she is onscreen the audience is rapt.  Here's hoping we see much more of her in the next film.

It's hard to believe a ride at Disneyworld has inspired hours of movie making but hey' .we're all kids at heart right?  I can totally remember being a kid floating through that E Ticket ride and being awed into silence.  OK, I'll admit it; I was equally awed when I repeated the ride as a stoned college student.

Dead Man's Chest isn't a great film, but it IS a fun movie to spend a few hours getting lost in. I can ignore the excessive length, the overabundance of almost vaudevillian shtick, and lack of continuity as long as I get to see Depp's Jack Sparrow sashay down the gangway one more time.  You go girl!

Yes indeed it's a Pirate's life for me!

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