So you’re at Disneyland and, with Space Mountain rammed, you plump for that Pirates Of The Caribbean ride. It’s brilliant. A hugely enjoyable whirlpool of story, thrills and laughs, it’s one of the most invigorating things you can do with slightly damp clothes on.
“Best ride of all summer!” you yell. As do the kids. Having loved it so much, you all run to the back of the queue for another go. But, inevitably, it’s just not as good second time around. There’s still a story, thrills, plenty of laughs... but the impact has dulled.
That’s a big fat metaphor, see. Bit laboured, perhaps, but it’s the only way to describe this second instalment of Jack Sparrow and co’s swash and buckle. Rolling out the same brand of convoluted plotting, bracing swordplay and dastardly double-crossing, director Gore Verbinski and producer/ATM Jerry Bruckheimer seem happy to stay surfing the original’s wave. It’s Pirates 1 – with a bit more CGI.
Which isn’t to say Dead Man’s Chest won’t float your blockbuster boat. For starters, there’s Davy Jones’ mega-squid, the Kraken – sort of Return Of The Jedi’s Sarlacc after swimming lessons. Thing is, this CG shit-stirrer is positively adorable next to Jones and his crew – so horrific are the acid-flashback faces of the men who have sold their souls. Close to being plain disgusting rather than just evil, these seamen need to be stopped – just so you don’t have to look at them.
With the eye-assaulting fish-faces spending much of their time with Bloom, all too often this means no Jack – which is bad news. Once again, Depp’s poncing prat ram-raids the film, swiping every scene like any good pirate snaffles swag. Indeed, his Sparrow is even more engaging than he was three years ago. Babbling punctuation-free sentences (“Complications arose ensued overcome”) that make more sense the less you think about them, and mincing about like a looks-enhanced Liberace raised on a rum teat, Depp is so mesmerising you’ll wish the film was called Pirate Of The Caribbean.
A shame, then, that Dead Man’s Chest’s last-reel teaser for the final chunk of the trilogy suggests we’ll be seeing even less Johnny in number three. That’s just not going to be jolly.
Funny, frantic but far too long. The zing of the original teeters at the plank's edge and is just about yanked back by Depp's wonderful weirdness.