Grant Mitchell's Pirate

Courtesy of Grant T. Mitchell

The music is grandiose, and the set pieces are extravagant in the 2006 summer blockbuster “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.” It is a rollicking high seas adventure that lives up to the high stakes piracy seen in the original “Pirates of the Caribbean,” but the first sequel in the series also adds greater levity to the franchise.

There are some movies that give you a feeling of wonderment and wanderlust when you watch them. For many people, a movie isn’t good if it doesn’t have that certain panache of magic and spectacle.

For myself, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” has always been just that. I can still taste the popcorn from the theatre when I first watched it. A plastic sword in hand, a felt hat with a skull and cross bones on the front, to me, I was just as cool as Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow. Even now when watching the film, I find myself sinking into the bright Caribbean colors and equally eclectic and artful characters.

That isn’t to say this is an excellent piece of cinema because it isn’t. The first act takes too long to get going, and there doesn’t seem to be any sense of purpose or direction for the first 45 minutes outside of watching Jack and the crew get into trouble with cannibals.

Then, the ball starts rolling. And the film’s heavy starts making an impact, and boy is he memorable. For “Dead Man’s Chest,” Jack is at odds with Bill Nighy’s tentacle faced Davy Jones who demands Jack’s soul or the souls of 100 people. Jones then gives Sparrow three days to acquire said number or he forfeits his own, per usual, Captain Jack Sparrow has other plans.

For Jack, he sees it that he has three days to beg, borrow and steal his way to acquiring the location of Davy Jones’ heart. Yes, you read that correctly, Davy Jones has his still beating heart in a buried chest in a hidden location. Whomever holds the heart of Davy Jones controls him and the ocean.

So the race is on for Sparrow to find the heart, all the while the East India Trading Company pursues Jack’s magic compass, and the Kraken, which is controlled by Davy Jones, swims the seas.

While this sounds like a half-baked idea that would be impossible to get invested in and actually enjoy watching, inspired performances by the cast and excellent special effects keep this ship afloat. Throw in wildly entertaining performances from Johnny Depp and Bill Nighy, and you have yourself a thrill ride of a film.

As stated before, this isn’t an Oscar worthy film. Where the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” was a more intense adventure film with moments of levity, “Dead Man’s Chest” embraces the absurdity and laughs with us. While further sequels have struggled to balance the action and drama with comedic aspects, the second installment in the series balances them perfectly.

This is a viewing experience that is what I think of when I consider what mainstream films are supposed to be. A big budget film is supposed to capture your imagination, to show you big and outlandish things that just could never be, and then deliver upon them. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” captivates you with larger than life characters and monsters against the backdrop on the unreasonably beautiful Caribbean waters and beaches.

I certainly have bias in saying this because I saw this film in theatres decked out in full pirate regalia. But some things from childhood lose their luster and ultimately stay confined in the space and time of their creation. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” is just as good now as it was in 2006. The special effects seen in it could even be considered better than some of those seen today, cough cough justice league Henry Caville CGI mustache, but I don’t need to name any names.

So if you haven’t seen it already, certainly watch this swashbuckling flic. Don’t worry if you find yourself smelling the salt of the sea and saying “arg” after watching this, that’s only natural.

Grant Mitchell is a junior majoring in public relations. He can be reached atgmitch16@vols.utk.edu.

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