Friday, July 14, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest / ***1/2 (2006)

Captain Jack Sparrow is an insatiable human being, cutthroat and ragged, with such a calculated and intricate magnetism that even those who openly detest his existence can’t help but be fascinated by him. By the standards of movie pirates, he is also like few of his kind: an elusive buccaneer who still manages to connect with a conscience on occasion. Most others are prepared to slit countless throats and betray any advisor possible in the pursuit of riches galore, but Sparrow knows when to be sympathetic, when to abandon fool-hearted ideas, and when to except defeat, even if only because he lacks the guts to be a dedicated example of his kind. There is, furthermore, little trouble in an audience routing for him; despite all the shady dealings he may or may not be a part of on the open seas, we know there is usually an ulterior motive cleverly hidden beneath. Example: an early scene in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” in which Jack is confronted by Davy Jones, captain of the legendary Flying Dutchman, and told that he must collect 100 souls in order to save his own life. The audience knows he has no intention of carrying out such a plan, although that does not prevent him from initially agreeing to the bargain (or making the effort to come up with the cost). Never trust a pirate to keep a promise, they say, but also never assume that he won’t have a few cards hidden up his sleeve, either.