Reviewing the Reviews: 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest'

94933__pirates_lIf you were on the fence about going to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, and hoping this morning’s reviews would help you make a decision, I fear you’re outta luck. A perusal of critics from across the country finds them decidedly split into camps that PinkIsTheNewBlog might label ”Woot!” and ”Boo!” (EW’s own Lisa Schwarzbaum is definitely in the latter, calling the flick ”a theme ride, if by ride you mean a hellish contraption into which a ticket holder is strapped, overstimulated but unsatisfied, and unable to disengage until the operator releases the restraining harness” in her D+ review). Read on, and if you’ve seen the movie for yourself, please choose a side in the comments section below.

-Joel Siegel, ABC News: "This film is so much fun. The cast has fun. The audience has fun. Your popcorn tastes better, it’s that much fun. And all the other wannabe summer blockbusters have been so serious and glum. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is the best summer movie of the summer. And, of course, you know it’s rated ‘Aargh!’"

-Bruce Westbrook, Houston Chronicle: "Emboldened by the original film’s $653 million global take, producer Jerry Bruckheimer has made a monster, turning a fun, fresh romp into a misguided mishmash of special-effects excess and horror-show repulsiveness. The charismatic cast that sparked the original is lost in a tempest of supernatural meanies and repulsive creepiness."

-Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times: "Quite possibly the silliest movie to grace multiplex screens this summer, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest can only be described as a hoot. A goofball riff on the pirate-movie genre, this sequel is as insubstantial as popcorn — and as delicious."

-Katherine Monk, Vancouver Sun: "The narrative details are murky and ill-formed, and once again, the talents in charge figured they could fix things with some fancy computer work. The code-writers worked overtime creating some magnificent illusions — particularly the creatures that form the crew of the Flying Dutchman, as well as Jones’s secret weapon: a giant octopus that crushes ships in one slimy embrace. Yet, for all the hard work, the film is soft in the middle as it runs around in circles and resists genuine emotional development."

-James Verniere, Boston Herald: "The best, most spectacular summer blockbuster thus far, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, the second installment in Disney’s Pirates trilogy, is more fun than a barrel of undead monkeys and an example of what a brilliant cast can do given half a chance and a director on top of his game."

-Ty Burr, Boston Globe: "Arrr, keelhaul the blaggards! The dreaded curse of the sequels hits home with a vengeance in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, a noisy and lazy stopgap movie that goes absolutely nowhere and takes 2 1/2 hours to get there."

-Randy Myers, Contra Costa Times: "The whole creaky plot is secondary to the manic, loud action pieces that sometimes resemble a Buster Keaton film. That and the razzle-dazzle digital effects, which seem to be produced by a team as large as the population of Byron. Undoubtedly, these artists pulled off something special, making Dead Man’s Chest the best special effects extravaganza since The Lord of the Rings movies. Sorry, King Kong, but the giant, grouchy octopus here even shows you up."

-Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: "In the disappointing sequel, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, a strange thing has happened: Depp doesn’t figure in a large part of the action. Instead, we are given interminable scenes featuring Captain Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and his scurvy crew, as well as far too many interludes involving dewy lovers Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightley). Can it be that director Gore Verbinski and his screenwriters, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, don’t understand the secret to their own success?"

-Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: "This big-budget studio job does not provoke a conflicted or worse response, as does Superman Returns or the gone, already forgotten remakes The Omen and Poseidon. However bloated (nearly 2 1⁄2 hours, just as Black Pearl shouldn’t have been) and saggy in its midsection, if you’re at all into squiggly tentacles, all sizes, or Depp’s hilarious, feyly swanning characterization, this is the most satisfying big-screen excuse for overpriced popcorn so far this summer."

addCredit(“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest: Peter Mountain”)

Comments (72 total) Add your comment
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  • Rahul

    Yes, Joel Siegel, “the best summer movie of the summer”. Please pickup your Disney paycheck before leaving the office today.

  • Lesha

    Does anyone know what the hell happened to the So You Think You Can Dance TV Watch? I’ve been waiting for it all morning.

  • Jess

    The reviews for the first one were pretty dismal, too, weren’t they? And people loved it. Hell, I’ll admit, I went into the first one thinking I was going to hate it, and I ended up enjoying it. It’s mindless, sure, but that’s a popcorn flick for you. It’s fun!
    So I’ll give the second one a chance. I’ve seen a handfull of good reviews anyway.

  • Kimmie G

    I agree with you, Jess. Of the reviews that were not compliments, the reviewers tend to admit to not liking the first Pirates movie. This, to me, is a sin. Not liking Curse of the Black Pearl immediately sinks their credibility with me (and EW’s reviewer is one of this group), and shows me that they simply don’t like the kind of movies I do. Forget the critics; I’ll be throwing my $10 Disney’s way this weekend.

  • Geno

    Oh Bugger. I’ll see the movie regardless of the reviews.

  • Joe C

    Nothing personal, Michael, but especially on a movie like Pirates, the critics don’t affect me at all.

  • ceej

    Critics get paid to tell me what they think, and the system says their opinion should dictate my movie choices.
    I’m not a moron, so I can make up my own mind.
    Besides, who can resist pirates? They’re so sexy…

  • Tyler

    Who needs critics? We are our own people with our own minds. We don’t need someone to tell us what to think of a movie.
    Sure, don’t get me wrong. Critics are usually around about a movie. When those silly, stupid movies come along like Fast and the Furious and Garfield, etc. However, sometimes, they tend to get it wrong.
    Critics are only good for the Academy Awards.. if anything.

  • Tyler

    I meant right not around. Haha.

  • Judy D

    Just wanted to say to Rahul: “Please pickup your Disney paycheck before leaving the office today” may well be the funniest thing I’ve read about this entire article!

  • cbc

    I saw a screening on Wednesday night and was very entertained. I am pretty sure the critics just don’t get the point of the movies. Definitely worth your money this weekend.

  • Scourge

    If you have a fun-loving personality, you will love the film..
    If you are a ragged up stiff that needs to get laid, like Lisa, You hate it.

  • Mike

    I’m reading these comments, and wow, a lot of ppl are misguided and WRONG. *GOOD* critics DON’T tell you what to think, they tell you what THEY think. It’s up to you if you want to take their word of how THEY felt. From good reviews I’ve read, they don’t say of how you should feel but they should tell you how THEY feel. It’s an expression, an opinion. They get paid because they are Profession Writers. Just because you know the alphabet, you think you can write a gripping review? Reviews should be entertaining and leave YOU thinking. Intelligent writers make you think for yourself, they dont’ tell you what to think. Get it right, ppl!

  • Lynn

    I cannot believe you have the nerve to put the film on your next cover after that pitiful review. The review seemed to say don’t see this lousy movie, but you’ll stoop low enough to use it to increase your sells. Aarrrgh!!!!

  • beauceron

    I just think some reviewers take themselves too seriously and approach every film with the same standard…and expect every film should measure up to Kurosawa or Bergman. It’s a foolish way to go into aa movie. When I see a reviewer criticizing a film like “Pirates” because it “resists genuine emotional development”, I feel like smacking them in the head. It’s like eating a Big Mac and then griping about how it wasn’t as good as the Kobe Beef you had the other night.
    A movie like “Pirates” is brain candy, and as long as it doesn’t try to be anything else (which it doesn’t seem to be doing) then judge it as such. I’m not looking for any deep insights into the human situation from a Bruckheimer movie.

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