Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ★★★★½

Since a lot of my mutuals were doing it, I figured why not give the original three Pirates of the Caribbean films another viewing? I just spent the last eight hours revisiting them, and let me tell you, it was rather glorious watching these films again, all three of them back-to-back. Curse of the Black Pearl is still obviously the best of the entire franchise, with the most tight plot, focused story, and well-rounded characters. Dead Man's Chest has come to be regarded as a disappointment since it came out, but I've always felt that its dismissal was unfair, because this is one of the most underappreciated blockbuster sequels in recent memory. Can the story get a little too convoluted at times? Sure. But it does what a good sequel is supposed to do: Instead of just being repetitive by going right back to square one and doing the first film all over again only bigger perhaps, this is a film that furthers the story and its characters while at the same time expanding upon the lore, allowing multiple avenues for rich and creative world-building, but it never forgets the heart and humanity at their center. From its engaging character dynamics to its lightning-fast pacing to its meticulous set designs to its kinetic action sequences to its still-groundbreaking visual effects (Bill Nighy's Davy Jones will forever be an astonishing achievement in computer-generated imagery and should be the automatic rebuttal to practical effects purists who whine over how digital effects are automatically lazy and inferior, even though they're not), this is a film that's firing on all cylinders. Director Gore Verbinski knew he had to deliver something special as a follow-up to such a surprise smash hit, and delivered he did. There are even moments when the absolute madman manages to outdo himself. Dead Man's Chest is the definition of a sequel done right, and it deserves much more appreciation. Luckily, people are starting to realize the strengths of this film a lot more recently, so I guess that's something we can thank the so-so On Stranger Tides and painfully mediocre Dead Men Tell No Tales for, I suppose.

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