For a movie that goes virtually nowhere from start to finish, 'Dead man's chest' takes an awfully long time getting there. This is an adventure film without a single memorable scene, a comedy where all the jokes are delivered in broad strokes aimed at the lowest of the lowest common denominators and a sequel that takes everything about its mildly original predecessor and stretches it thin to the point of straining audience temperament.
The only redeeming quality about 2003's 'The curse of the black pearl' was Johnny Depp's self serving, swaggering, manipulative Captain Jack Sparrow, a character so memorably original, it managed to lift the collective quality of the passable first film. This second time around that same character comes across as stale, self aware and stuffy. None of it is Depp's fault since the script gives him little to do and even less to say that doesn't sound like a recycled line from the first film (how many rum jokes can a person handle – sit back and let the film answer that question to your disdain).
There really isn't much of a storyline to try and describe, at least not one that merits having a mammoth two and a half hour running time. Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) are about to get married when they are arrested for freeing Jack. In return for the freedom of himself and his beloved, Will is asked to find Jack and retrieve from him the compass that he carries, which points to a treasure chest containing the beating heart of the mythical and dreaded sea pirate Davy Jones (Bill Nighy). On being found Jack promises to turn himself in if Will is able to find the key that Davy Jones keeps hung around his tentacled face. Will gets caught, then manages to escapes. Elizabeth joins them, gets caught, also manages to escape. All three are then caught, some of them escape, other don't and very sheepishly the door is left open for a confrontational conclusion in the third part.
It is unclear why, but writer partners Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio's script goes round and round like a headless chicken. Confrontations go on endlessly when they can be resolved with a swifter execution. Case in point is a three way sword fight in the last act that starts off as being amusing, then becomes tiring to watch because it doesn't know when to quit. This can be said of the entire film. Also unforgivable are the multiple threads that serve no purpose such as the nearly thirty minute stint on an island of cannibals that leads to nothing and could easily have been left out without any effect whatsoever. The first film, itself an example of bad editing and over wrought self indulgence, had some great, morbid effect sequences in the undead pirates that turned to skeletons under moonlight. 'Dead man's chest' fails at this aspect as well, instead compensating by settling for a dull giant squid that squashes pirate ships when called for and Davy Jones' fish faced henchmen.
It is very evident that the real pirates here are director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, digging deeper into viewer pockets with this already unnecessary film and it's sure to be very widely seen finale, all while filling an empty niche (that of the pirate film) that no one else ever thought of venturing into (at least not this successfully). Though Depp is still the lifeline, all the actors gorgeous to look at and the set pieces convincingly excellent, these are thin grounds for recommending this or any other film yet they will nonetheless be adequate, even essential for some audience members. You know who you are. I will recline in the misery that we have been given a respite of only ten months before we have to endure the third film, 'At world's end', which is sooner that we think. That features Chow Yun Fat as a pirate. I see very little hope for this series. - Faizan Rashid