Quick-Thoughts – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

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Pretty crazy how this movie single-handedly inspired hentai. 

With the introduction of a startling gunshot, the savvy scoundrel wakes up in a… coffin, in the middle of the ocean. From there on out, we’re greeted by Dariusz Wolski’s new green/orange tint of visual filtering here that is a lot more cadaverous and a lot less bubbly than its predecessor. 

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest surprisingly doesn’t suffer like most sequels despite its constant uses of nostalgia, which rather than it being a chickens**t way to draw its audience back into this world, it actually assists the film by calling back to past trademarks from the first movie but altering them in even absurder manners to comedically inflate these previous endeavors. I love how locations such as the swampish set pieces feel so diligently storyboarded to the penny too; this green and orange tinting will later on pass its genes to the third entry, and it’s the cleanest the franchise has ever looked. The landscaping is immaculate compared to many studio blockbusters as a result of this, from tribal territories on a semi-deserted island to plagued ghost ships in the middle of the sea. The sequence of Jack, after running away from an island tribe, falling thousands of feet down a canyon while tied to a giant fruit-balancing log-stick that keeps complicating the inevitable doom seems as if Chaplin or Keaton had risen from the dead to perform a treacherously impossible stunt — sometimes over-the-top scientifically disputable CGI can benefit the quality of satirical action; such a lost art! The gigantic moving wheel scene furthermore feels like something stolen straight out of a classic Mickey Mouse or Loony Tunes cartoon with its self-aware irrational action sequencing of over-the-top, laboriously planned, and continuously sprinting spectacle rollercoasters, and has the almost “laugh-track” type of comedic timing; it reminds me quite a bit of Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride too, but taken to an obviously larger scale of space and special effects galore. 

The human hamster-balls were pretty wicked too. 

This time the movie even pays a quick homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark with the “key switch” with Davy Jones, but in a cuter atmosphere that sets it apart and is another small example of what makes these Pirate movies feel more like parodies of the genre its in rather than a straightforward tribute to its 70s and 80s counterparts; Jack Sparrow’s embarrassing crew auditions is another great example of this too. The film also picks up with characters in polar opposite positions, almost like a new season of television that takes place far after the events of the previous season; Commander James Norrington is now a homeless bum who’s willing to do any work, finding himself a drunk on Captain Jack Sparrow’s ship. The romantic arc between Jack, Will, and Elizabeth is so out of pocket but amusingly horny and selfish at the same time which is very honorable to the consistent disloyal “pirate” personality Elizabeth seeks to undergo, fabricating a sort of innocence to be attended to despite the dire situation with sea pirates and tyranny occurring at hand. It’s funny how this quarrel just becomes a battle of the dicks competition at the very last second too; every Pirates movie climaxes like the iconic Anchorman fight scenes, but that’s to the effect of its successful comedic awareness. 

Elizabeth pulls a Mulan arc too — we don’t get a “let’s get down to business” type-track for it though unfortunately. 

Dead Man’s Chest’s antagonist, Davy Jones, has the credence to utilize the immoral construct of enslavement laws to bargain with his crew; he feeds on the suffering of others, making a father lash his own son with a whip, setting the playing field even with his own tragedy and history of love; ironically though this torture is what stems some last minute sacrifices in Will Turner’s Father and even further develops the two’s relationship. Gotta mention too how the human-creature hybrid designs here follow very faithfully with real ancient historical lore of pirate and 18th century creature-feature mythos. 

Gore Verbinski is always satirizing government disputes and corruption, as well, which we see in the first few Pirate films and even the later and under appreciated The Lone Ranger, with partnering region turmoil that often result in compensations of the removal of top-tier hierarchy positions, showing the fall of invincibility from our lead and once royal/civil characters now become treacherous pirates. One is frantically spontaneous, one is in defiance of the female lifestyle stereotypes, one is put into enslavement at the company of a father he hadn’t seen since he was a child, and one has a dying heart that’s dealt with through cruelty. This has been comparable to Empire Strikes Back in terms of plot, and in many ways it feels like the spoof version of it, where our main characters lose at the end gravely but at the cost of an almost comical conclusion that features a giant octopus, a greedy “no it’s mine!” hot-potato for a single artifact, the peers’ undeserved praising of Captain Sparrow himself through a very unintentional sacrifice, and of course the franchise’s recurring zig-zag sidings and betrayals.

If it weren’t for how queasily expositional this movie is with the discursive lineage of side plots it needs to set up, it would probably be up there among the greats in the “treasure-hunt” genre; nonetheless, this movie ends up being on the level of its predecessor because of its misfortunes in pointless elongation; the movie is laboriously slow-paced because of this. Still, it’s not enough to ruin the movie for me unlike many of the critics who felt disappointed by the movie’s “TV-episode” feeling when it was initially released. 

Pirates came out around the time Lord of the Rings was ending, and in a strange outlook the Hobbit films which came a decade later feel more like they took their inspirations more so from Gore Verbinski’s trilogy than its very own franchise. Subsequently, The Hobbit (or the Pirates) never reached (not even close) the qualitative heights of The Lord of the Rings franchise especially given it’s almost polar-opposite tone, furthermore leading to almost half the fanbase disliking those movies. Yet, at least they felt like failed tributes to the spirit of classic adventure treasure-hunt filmmaking that likened to play out like an episode of an old cartoon show rather than a godly-staked “saving the world” situation as most blockbusters have began tirelessly molding into. The deception of Jack Sparrow’s “sacrifice” was a bit of a cringy way to end off the movie howbeit — the writing abused the sweetener packs a bit too carelessly as if they were an advertisement for its continuing sequel, which it literally becomes in its final 20 minutes.

I think that’s what I like the most about the Pirates movies though; it has to do with the unusual batch of misfits it follows. Modern movies like Suicide Squad and Deadpool, have attempted to recapture this vibe of self-entitled character motivating, creating these almost messy time slots of back and forth ambitions that all seem inherently wrong; there’s been far too many blockbusters these days that insist on us to follow characters who become strict, god-like, all-good heroes rather than one’s with the personality of a pitifully vulnerable thief; it’s comparable to the sitcom success It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s character effect that has me tied to that show even to this day; they’re psychopaths; it is what it is! Do you really think that they’re actually going to develop morally? Like Johnny Depp’s infamous savvy-tongued character, he paints himself to be a legendary celebrity of the pirate cult, yet the paradoxical goofball presence he exudes through a dying area of cinematic humor that contradicts his attempted persona is the fine line that separates Pirates from a lot of other 21st Century, hugely financed blockbuster studio projects centered on obnoxiously “put-together” leads.

Verdict: B

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” is now available to stream on Disney+.

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