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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Review Written by: Emma Crouch
Film: C
What the MPAA Rating should be: PG-13 (for violence)

Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Written by: Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio
Produced by: Jerry Bruckheimer
Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightly, Bill Nighy
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

I sat through Pirates of the Caribbean II without any particular expectations and it was probably better that way, because, had I looked forward to it, I think I would have walked out feeling very, very disappointed. Where the first film was fun, fresh, entertaining and showed flashes of brilliance, the second has been put together with far less consideration to the art of film-making and with more of an interested eye for the bank statements.

The performances range from acceptable to atrocious. Depp gives his Captain Jack Sparrow the same humour and alcohol-addled craziness that he did with the first. This is both good and bad; whilst he is fun to watch and occasionally near-funny, there are hardly any surprises. Pride & Prejudice's Tom Hollander is the shining star of this film and steals every single scene he's in, a feat made more impressive if you consider that his character is one of the most poorly written of all time. Orlando Bloom is absolutely, horrifyingly, frighteningly awful and one wonders how good an agent he must have bagged himself to continue getting himself film roles when he's just so bad. And to round off this acting "ensemble," is Keira Knightley, who seems to want the world to forget that she has given an Oscar-nominated performance. It doesn't help that Elizabeth Swann is no Elizabeth Bennet, but Knightley is so utterly frustrating in her constant pouting that one can't help wishing that her character will quickly disappear.

Plot holes are rife and ridiculous. For five whole minutes, I sat there, puzzling over just how did Elizabeth become such a dab hand at swordplay? But the biggest plot hole comes at the end, where you can practically hear Bruckheimer's purse strings anticipating a stretch. Like the rest of the film, the score is below-par with Hans Zimmer carelessly shoving together the leftovers from his scores to The Da Vinci Code and Gladiator. But the icing on the distasteful cake here is the sloppy, sloppy screenplay, which made me groan at least ten times, a record only matched by films such as Crash and Signs. From the lame jokes as old as the Black Pearl to the clunky, laughable dialogue, there's a rusty jewel of a bad screen writing feat achieved in almost every minute of the running time. That four people were involved in the writing makes the script even more shameful; they were clearly drunk the entire time.

I make it sound as if the film has no saving grace. Admittedly, this is not quite true. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest does not set out to be a masterpiece, it aims to be entertainment and there are the odd moments of surprise and amusement to be found. Some of the undersea scenes invoke the same ghoulishness as felt with the first and at times, you can leave you brain at home and attempt to enjoy it. But then I remember the simple thing that is logic and this film is certainly lacking in it.

Johnny Depp reprises his popular role in the Pirates of the Caribbean sequel.
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