Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker,
but those who are kind to the needy honour him.
The wicked are overthrown by their evildoing,
but the righteous find a refuge in their integrity.
Wisdom is at home in the mind of one who has understanding,
but it is not known in the heart of fools.
Gore Verbinski’s direction of Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio’s inventive screenplay is probably the funniest commercial we are likely to see this season, and at 2 hour and 20 minutes, certainly the longest. Yes, before briefly looking at its loose plot, let us admit up front that its purpose is to sell us a lot of stuff while beguiling us with the hilarious antics of its characters, but what more might you expect from a film series inspired by a Disney amusement ride? The surprise of all the critics following the release of the first film was due to the fact that the personality of its central character, thanks to the acting of Johnny Depp, was so full-blown and funny.
Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) owes his soul to Davy Jones (Bill Nighy)—yes, the Davey Jones who commands the legendary Flying Dutchman, manned by a strange crew of ghostly half-men, half-fish. He orders Captain Jack to find a key that will open the buried chest of the film’s title, in which is Jones’ beating heart. If Jack fails, he will have to sail with the ghostly crew forever. There is another who also wants to seize the key, and he interrupts the wedding of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), accusing them of treason when they helped Captain Jack. Both will die unless Will finds Jack and through him the key to the famous chest of Davey Jones. The villainous businessman Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander) believes that if he can obtain the chest, he will gain control of Davey Jones and thus of all the pirates who are disrupting trade in the Caribbean. There follows a series of misadventures involving a giant squid, sword fights, chases, broadsides, and about anything else that lovers of the swashbuckler genre crave in a film.
Johnny Depp is even funnier this time around as the mincing, fashion-conscious pirate whose eccentricities and inadequacies are never noticed by crew or friends. A running joke for the first half of the film are his orders to set sail, but not knowing what direction and finding little help from his strange compass, he simply points every which way. There are hilarious sight gags, such as the protracted duel by three of the characters atop and within a water wheel that breaks loose from its mill and careens down a long slope of a tropical island. At almost two and a half hours in length, the film, largely devoid of any purpose other than escape (for its viewers) and merchandising (for its producers), could have ended a lot sooner, and yet it probably is a far better entertainment value than the three or four-minute (?) amusement ride that inspired it. So far I have not heard anyone complaining about this, but I would recommend that parents be fully aware that the film is really an expensive selling tool. If you do not believe this, then try to go anywhere on the Internet or a WalMart without seeing ads for the film and merchandise tie-ins.