Magazine article The Spectator

Boy's Own Capers

Magazine article The Spectator

Boy's Own Capers

Article excerpt

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest 12A, nationwide

However wicked pirates are, they're still cool. They've got funkier outfits and superior gear: skulls-and-crossbones, cutlasses, gold doubloons, crazy superstitions, clever pets, peg-legs, the 'Arrr' factor, and as much rum as they can stand.

Didn't the Amazons have more fun than the boring old Swallows? Even the pirates in A High Wind in Jamaica were a sympathetic bunch, for all their bad habits.

Disney has been made well aware of the appeal of the buccaneer since, in true piratical style, Johnny Depp sneaked up on the Pirates of the Caribbean series and stole the limelight. His Captain Jack Sparrow became an international heart-throb after the first film (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) and now Depp has been rewarded with centre-stage in the second.

All the way through the first film we wondered how Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) could possibly prefer drippy Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) to the Pirate Captain, and now in this film she's wondering, too.

Turner is just a Goody Two Shoes, a sap in a see-through shirt, whatever the filmmakers do to him to sex him up. At the beginning of this film, they have him arrested and condemned to death in order to improve his street-cred. Later on, they resort to removing Jack Sparrow altogether to make us concentrate on Will and Elizabeth, but it still doesn't really work -- the moment Depp went offscreen I started thinking about what I might have for supper.

I'm not even going to embark on the story because there's really no point -- it would be like telling you the 'plot' of Super Mario Bros: 'There are these two brothers, right? They both wear dungarees and live in a world where mushrooms expand and bees land on your head. . .' Dead Man's Chest has the 'plot' of a computer game and exists in a similarly fantastical world:

'Level 1: Escape from Cannibal Island.

Level 2: Find Davy Jones and make treaty of 100 souls. Level 3: Battle with sea monster.' And so on. This film is not about story, it's about providing enough entertainment to keep you in your seat for two and a half hours.

For what I thought was the first half (it turned out to have been only the first third) I was delighted. The best action sequence is quite brilliant. Jack Sparrow and his motley crew are chased by a gang of hungry cannibals (of a sort, incidentally, not generally seen on the screen these days: bones stuck through their lips, grass skirts and painted bodies) across an island towards their beached ship, The Black Pearl. …

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