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Mateys and scalawags – drink up, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST is 20,000 leagues more badbum than the original. This film is just frecking swaggeringly cool from beginning to end.

Seriously. Johnny Depp was recently quoted as saying he’d love to do as many PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN flicks as Disney can produce great scripts for. For me… I couldn’t be happier.

The first film was wonderful for Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, the Black Pearl’s Cursed Captain and Crew and Monkey… but honestly – I wasn’t solidly behind Orlando Bloom’s character – and Keira… while lovely – just never was as feisty or fun as say Maureen O’Hara in BLACK SWAN or Olivia DeHavilland in CAPTAIN BLOOD. The gals in these films are awesome when they’re “good girls” that just want to drop the petticoat and be ravished by that dirty, evil, undeniably charismatic pirate. Instead – they paired her up with “the Ronald Reagan” character. Now sure, Reagan was never in any of Flynn’s Pirate flicks – but he was in SANTE FE TRAIL – and he’s just so (Uma draw the outline) SQUARE. Orlando was SQUARE. I mean… his dad was a pirate? That makes him wrong? Hardly. And meanwhile – you have Johnny Depp creating the best bloody “where the Hades did that character come from” character in forever.

Seriously – Johnny just magically pulled Jack Sparrow out of some bizarre corner of quirk in his soul. Genius.

This time. This time, this is OFFICIALLY – a Jack Sparrow film. Sure the other characters are there. Orlando has his “motivation” and “arc.” As does Keira’s Elizabeth… but both are truly supporting characters to the star of this show, which is clearly Jack Sparrow… excuse me, CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow.

Everything in the film. Every character is a satellite of Jack Sparrow. The world revolves around him. Why are Will and Elizabeth jockeying around the Caribbean? Captain Jack Sparrow. Why is the “Man” buggering with Will, Elizabeth and anyone standing around? Captain Jack Sparrow. Why is Davy Jones so swab the decks pissed? Captain Jack Sparrow. Guano man, even when he beaches his beloved Pearl aboard a Cannibal Island… Jack is declared their God. Everyone, everywhere has a story about Jack. A reaction to his name. A tale that was passed with a bottle of rum. Drink up of both, I say!

In this film – we begin to find out more about Sparrow’s “utility belt.” Seriously – Like Batman – this bloke has wonderful toys on his person that just doesn’t make a bit of sense… until it’s shown to be... BLIMEY MAGIC! And I’m not just talking about the mystical sense of the word. I’m talking about magic in the sense of… WOW – That’s Magic! How it’s just motorscooter perfect.

Like that dagburn compass of his. First film, I looked at it… and through the whole bleeding film I had utterly no concept of what it was doing. Why was it so precious? I knew it pointed the way to the Aztec Gold – but really… what’s the big whup? Actually… what that compass can do – is flat out MAGIC. It’s possibly the most useful device for adventure and happiness that you could ever wish for. I won’t spoil it, but it is magic. And every time something magic is revealed about a piece of Jack’s character – I couldn’t help, but be delighted beyond words.

I know he’s like some crazed Dean Martin character that never swaggered upon screen before – there’s some Chaplin in there, some Errol Flynn – and a lot of pure Johnny Depp. There’s a part of me that thinks the direction of this film by Gore Verbinski is all at once the easiest and hardest job ever. Johnny has his lines – and I know he’s delivering what’s on the page, but you get the idea – that Johnny is so alive in the character and the scene, that there’s a plethora of distractions he explores. As if he’s aware the camera is on him. And he doesn’t want whoever is watching him to know what he’s doing. And frankly – we really don’t know what he’s up to half the time, but due to focusing on his character this time out – we do know, basically, what he’s aiming for, but not necessarily to what ends. Sure – there’s the initial “get out of hock with Davy Jones,” but I suspect Capt Jack is far more mischievous than that.

Now – I mentioned briefly Davy Jones. For at least 3 centuries now, folk have been referring to Davy Jones. In 1751, Tobias Smollett in his book, THE ADVENTURES OF PEREGRINE PICKLE stated the following about Davy Jones:

“This same Davy Jones, according to the mythology of sailors, is the fiend that presides over all the evil spirits of the deep, and is often seen in various shapes, perching among the rigging on the eve of hurricanes, ship-wrecks, and other disasters to which sea-faring life is exposed, warning the devoted wretch of death and woe.”

Well, after this film… You’ll never forget Davy Jones. Like Andy Serkis’ GOLLUM, Bill Nighy puts soul into Davy Jones. I love how Kevin McNally’s Gibbs is a chronicler and tale-teller of the legends of the sea, including those of his own captain. As Davy is described, his tale – we’re set up for the character’s pathos. But when you know that you’re gonna be looking at a squid head creature from the dark unwritten corner of H.P. Lovecraft… are you really thinking of associating with him, feeling sorry for him… fearing him? Yes, but how is he going to emote?

Well – ILM has finally answered the call that came from New Zealand 5 years ago. This is, without a moment’s hesitation – the best CG character work I’ve seen.


Gollum is the better character, in that we saw such an enormous amount of character work – but Davy Jones is less humanoid… he’s even further removed from humanity – and yet it comes through. People may go gaga over the Kraken or the enormity of the work being done on the crew… but when John Knoll takes the microphone at next year’s Academy Awards for his first Oscar for Best Special Fx… it is this character that is being honored. It’s the nuance of the performance, the way he absolutely is alive in these scenes without being overtly showy. Like… Watch how he grabs the dice cup, when he plays Will Turner in their betting game. It’s a tiny flourish that just took my breath away. A John Han-wee-wee, so to speak. It’s so cool. Now as awesome as he is playing his pipe organ all James Mason, 20,000 LEAGUES BENEATH THE SEA fashion… I prefer the simple look on his tired face as he looks at that locket, which we can only assume is the ache that cut his heart from within.

That said – this is finally a film that Crash designed, where the actual screen images look far better than his already stunning work. This stuff is inventive in a way that you just don’t see in films often.

I love the casting of this series. And specifically – I love how every character that they give time to in this film… they’re just much better than they were in the first film… and yet there’s room for so many extra characters, without ever selling the “stars” short. It’s just a complete actualized universe.

Oh – did I mention… as a fan of the original ride, how fucking happy I was at the lightning bugs inclusion, when they go up river to seek out Tia Dalma? Cuz, I am. The mist, the lightning bugs… I almost felt the water rocking my seat on the ride. Just fantastic.

Now – how are the Problem Children from the first film?

Well, Keira finally has a couple of scenes where you just want the film to suddenly turn into PIRATES OF THE REAR-END: NO MAN’S CHEST. Absolutely smoldering and sexy. While still retaining her hesitance to go further than “she should.” I love how at one point she’s so frustrated, because she really wants to get “married” – which in the way she and everyone else refers to it – it seems to denote, getting laid. And there is definitely that, “I need to copulate” thing going on with her. Any viewer will pick up on it, and it’s very tastefully handled. It’s there for the adults to see, and for the kids to blissfully look past.

Ok – I’m gonna wrap this up, as I don’t want to be a spoiler-bum with the review. The less you know – the more breathtaking this film will be. I do want to address the “cliff-hanger” ending that allegedly has audiences in a tizzy somewhere in this idiotic world.

This isn’t a cliffhanger like… Thelma And Louise drive off a cliff and suddenly letters come up blazing across the screen, “THELMA AND LOUISE 2: THE DEVIL’S RIDE!”

Rather – this is a fantastic and natural ending for the second chapter of what will soon be an on-going cinematic tale What it does, is leave you wanting to see the next one. And if they bollocks up WORLD’S END – I’m gonna be perturbed in a really unrelenting way. Cuz I absolutely love love love this “chapter” in the Captain Jack Sparrow Chronicles.

This series is the single most inventive and vibrant franchise moving forward today. Let us hope they continue to be as inspired from this film forward.

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