Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Written by:Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Jack Davenport, Bill Nighy, Jonathan Pryce, Tom Hollander, Stellan Skarsgard
Released: July 6, 2006
Grade: B-

I couldn’t believe that it’s been three years since the release of Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl.  It made a staggering $653m (in U.S. dollars) around the world and it earned Johnny Depp his very first Academy Award nomination.  Not bad for a movie based on a ride at Disneyland!

Following the success of the first flick, Walt Disney Pictures opened their cheque book and commissioned two sequels.  The third instalment, which is being shot at the moment, is slated for release in May 2007.

If you can remember the original film, Will Turner (Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Knightley) helped Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) break out from prison so that he could reclaim his boat, The Black Pearl.  Dead Man’s Chest opens with Will and Elizabeth being arrested for their involvement in the escape.

There’s an ulterior motive behind their arrest however.  The influential Cutler Beckett (Hollander) will offer them a pardon but only if Will can track down Captain Jack.  There’s a unique compass that Jack keeps with him and Cutler wants to get his hands on it.

Across the oceans, Captain Jack is having his own problems.  Buried on a remote island is a treasure chest that contains a valuable secret.  He knows how to find it but he does not have the special key with which to open it.  The man who does is Davy Jones (Nighy), the slimy ghoul who captains the Flying Dutchman.  Davy won’t let go of his prized possession without a fight and so it’s up to Captain Jack to come up with a creative plan if he’s going to steal it…

The opening of Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is a complete waste.  You could walk in an hour after the movie has started and be no worse off.  Too much time is spent trying to develop the characters and the overly complicated plot.  If you can get through the lengthy introduction though, you’ll find the film does improve.  The action-packed finale sees Captain Jack and Davy Jones engage in an epic battle.  There’s an over-reliance on visual effects (some look a bit fake) but it’s still great to watch on a big screen.

Every laugh in the film is provided by Johnny Depp.  You never know what is going to come out of his mouth next.  Depp has based his character’s eccentric personality on Rolling Stones star Keith Richards and recent news reports have stated that Richards will make a cameo in the third film.  Apart from Depp, the cast are ordinary.  Orlando Bloom has more screen time but does little with it.  Keira Knightley is particularly disappointing in what is a smaller role.

Without revealing too much, I was frustrated by the ending.  Many questions are left unanswered.  It’s obvious that the filmmakers want you to come back in twelve months time and pay more money to see what happens next.  Don’t you just hate that?