Dead Man's Chest (2006) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

Liking something sometimes makes it hard to see the passionate views on either side of the argument.  Not loving it makes it difficult to see the passion and love people have for a book, movie, band etc and not hating it makes it equally as difficult to be able to see the hatred and contempt other people show.  I like the Pirates of the Caribbean films but don’t love them.  I find them enjoyable starring a charismatic as hell Johnny Depp.  The films for me are fun but ultimately interchangeable so I am confused by the love of the first and the dismissal of the follow-ups.

Dead Man’s Chest did not come out that long ago.  It was five years ago this July that the film made a huge impact on the box office, breaking records left and right.  I remember at the time that people seemed to be pretty impressed with the film.  Maybe not the critics, but I heard friends and strangers raving about this film.  The good words coming from the film made me take my lovely wife to the best theater in our area a lot sooner than I was planning, just to see what the fuss was about.  I watched the film and believed it was very much in step with the first one.  It had Johnny Depp having fun, Orlando Bloom as the straight man, and hijinks occurred on both the high seas and on land. This being a sequel, the stakes were raised; the action was bigger and new characters were added, but that is true for any film sequel.  I did not think Dead Man’s Chest was any better or any worse than the original Pirates film Curse of the Black Pearl, I just found it more of the same.  I had the same problems I had with the first one (I think it wears out its welcome by the 2:30 mark) and the character turns of Elizabeth Swan (Kiera Knightly) almost gave me whiplash, yet the movie had great set pieces, cool effects, and was amusing.

People praising this one as something new and better confused me, but I just chalked it up to it being newer and flashier than the original.  I was even more confused then when the third film, At World’s End, came out and there was a huge backlash against the film.  All of the sudden, this film was too long (all of them are), too confusing (double crosses and backstabbing is what the series was built on) and with too many characters and subplots (true, but that was a problem with the 2nd one too).  I could not see anything that was wrong with this one that wasn’t evident in the first two.  But again, I just liked the other films and never gave them much critical thought.  I just thought people turned on the film because the other trilogies of that summer (Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third) were disappointing and they wanted to make it a trend for the summer.   I enjoyed the third film as much as the others and didn’t pay any attention to the criticism.

Isn't he just so darn cute in Lego form?

Now the fourth movie is coming out this weekend and I have read about everyone “apologizing” about the 2nd and 3rd films and guaranteeing that this new movie isn’t as busy and are fixing the mistakes of the last two.  Is an apology warranted?  While writing this piece and rewatching these films, I paid attention to the criticism now being leveled at the 2nd and 3rd films in the series and still don’t see how it applies to just those films. Apparently, big set pieces, sword fights with dead things you can’t kill and the long running time were problems that people had with these films yet I see all of those things being in place from the first movie on.

When Dead Man’s Chest came out I just didn’t get the love people were showing the film and people loved it to the tune of over $1 billion at the world box office.  To see the film take a sharp 180 from gushing reviews to the creators apologizing for the film just a few short years later reminds me of an article I wrote last year about building up franchises only to tear them down. I would never be one to tell people to temper their feelings and expectations for a film series.  Hell I have written over 3,000 words on Star Wars alone in this series so I have no room to talk.  I just don’t see the huge deal over these films; they are based on a theme park ride and are just mindless fun.  For people that love it, I ask why, or for the people that hate it, I want to know why bother?

Posted by Ryan

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  1. Ryan, I must respectfully disagree with your conclusions here as I did with the previous piece.

    You are completely underselling just how bad the third Pirates flick is. It’s true that the same complaints can be leveled against all three movies, but we need more detail about why the third is so terribly wretched compared to the other two.

    1) Tone. The film starts off with an extended sequence involving the hanging of children because that’s exactly what you expect in a film with Captain Jack Sparrow. The violence, previously cartoonish to a certain degree, now has a nihilistic undertone that sets the rest of the film off course.

    2) Pacing. The second film I find so effective because it hurtles itself from set-piece to set-piece with nary a regard to the plot. There are some problems with that approach, but the sequences are so dizzying that the film keeps daring itself with the next moment and succeeds. The first isn’t as spectacular, but the freshness and playfulness of Depp and Rush’s performances keep the mid-sections moving. The third film runs jarringly from haphazardly assembled character pieces to action scenes where you haven’t the slightest clue what’s going one.

    3) Characters. We went from a handful in the first film, to essentially the same cast plus Davy Jones in the second, to having almost two dozen characters whipping in and out of frame. Jones’ cohorts, the British Royal Navy, the disgraced members of the British Royal Navy, the Sparrow Crew, Voodoo girl, the pirate alliance, and that’s just for starters. Trying to give equal weight to everyone deprives anyone from getting a genuine moment of reconciliation.

    That’s just a small smattering of specifics. The problem I’m having here is that you’re making the complaints about the complaints far too generic instead of getting into why people are actually upset.

    That noted, the third Pirates film fell under it’s own ambition. The fourth is just long and pointless, but I’ll get more into that tomorrow.

  2. You still enjoy the 2nd film. You haven’t thrown it overboard like many people have lately. The one problem I see in the third movie that wasn’t evident in the others was the whole finding/rescuing Jack was too long and unneeded. The end of Dead Mans Chest when Sparrow was taken by the Kraken, I knew that was a mistake and the third movie suffered for it.

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