Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
From the people who brought you Disneyland, where the rides blow air at your face so you believe you’re moving faster than you actually are, comes this latest grab bag of synthetic thrills masquerading as actual pleasure. The nuptials of Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) and Will (Orlando Bloom) are interrupted with the news that Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is in trouble again, this time indebted to the legendary Davy Jones and the phantom crew of the Flying Dutchman. All the fun that sneaked past Disney’s team of pasteurizing kill-joys the first time around—the frissons of bodice-ripping sexual menace, the Halloween-y chills, the sharp dialogue and genuine suspense—have been sucked out of this regeneration, most strikingly and regrettably from Jack Sparrow. Sure, Sparrow’s still dipping into the kohl, but the mercurial rogue of the first outing has been emasculated down to a prancing, mugging nincompoop zipping from one improbable stunt to the next—the Lizard King as Herbie the Love Bug. The only shivery moment is the appearance of Davy Jones (Bill Nighy, under many pixels of disguise) with an overbarnacled crew that would make Ray Harryhausen proud. But the rest of the time, it’s grade-school gags, grade-school misunderstandings, and ooga-booga cannibals only one bone through the nose away from true blackface. From the first frame, it’s clear there’s only two possible endings—either a happy one as rosy pink and sweet as the milk left behind after a bowl of Froot Loops, or a “downer” finely engineered to effortlessly couple with a sequel. Will anyone’s good time be ruined by revealing which is which? Not really.