“Abandon Ship, or Abandon Hope”, declares Kevin McNally’s Gibbs. Disney was full of hope they had a franchise after the hit of Curse of the Black Pearl. To make sure they could recapture the magic, they kept on the director, writing team and…of course… Johnny Depp and Captain Jack Sparrow.
Will and Elizabeth are engaged, Norrington has left the British Navy and now a bigger threat has arrived. A man who seeks to destroy the Pirate Scourge. His first act is to arrest both Will and Elizabeth, though this is a trap to try and force their hand in locating Jack Sparrow. Who they want because they believe he holds the key to a bigger weapon against all pirates.
Jack Sparrow is finding himself trying to avoid a debt to Davey Jones (who gave him the Black Pearl to captain for thirteen years, even if Barbossa took over a mere two years into the deal). He must serve 100 years upon Jone’s ship the flying Dutchman which ferries those who die at sea to the afterlife. Bootstrap Bill (Will Turner’s Father) comes to warn Sparrow that his time is up. But when Davey Jones sends his leviathan beast after Jack, they decide to beach the ship and hide on an island.
Will Turner is searching everywhere for Jack, but the best people seem to be able to do is say where they heard he was headed. He discovers the shipwrecked boat on a remote island and encounters Jack and the Black Pearl crew. They meet with witch Tia who tells them of a way to defeat Davey Jones, the cursed captain of the Flying Dutchman. Setting out to find the heart of Davey Jones, the crew re-unites, including Elizabeth Swann and the disgraced Norrington.
While Will and Elizabeth are played up to be the thread for the series, Jack Sparrow was the standout character for audiences in the first film, so the writers make sure we got a lot more Jack. Elizabeth is gone from the film for a good forty-five minutes, stuck in a prison cell. She is relegated to the prize that drives Will, which is rather unfortunate. Once she joins back up with the crew, she becomes much more active.
The visual design of the film is terrific. As with the Curse of the Black Pearl, we have cursed pirates, but this time they are more elaborate. Jones and his crew are connected to the sea so intensely, that they are blended with sea creatures. Jones’ head is an octopus, with his tentacles serving as a beard. Bill Nighy is terrific in the role, giving a darkly comic performance.
The film actually brings back almost the entire surviving cast, and everyone seems rather comfortable in their skins. The film has a lot of fun action sequences and of course many, many narrow escapes. But the extra focus on Jack also starts to run the risk of making the character more annoying than amusing. The film also is starting to try and set up an “epic” tale thing for Will, Elizabeth and really Jack. One character even notes that Will has the air of “destiny” about him.
This film is a lot of fun for the most part, and I would say it comes out pretty favorably in relationship to the first film.