By Chris Lee, 16, Walnut HS
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When my friend dragged me to the midnight showing of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest on opening night, I wasn’t as enthusiastic about seeing Johnny Depp as she was. I really was looking forward to the sequel, but I was doubtful if Disney could make a sequel that was as good as the first. And I was close to the mark; Dead Man’s Chest is full of twists and turns, packed with action and definitely humorous. However, the sequel had too many characters, separate plot lines and the movie was too complex.

Captain Jack Sparrow, whose whimsical persona is wonderfully played by Depp, has re-commandeered the Black Pearl and has set out on another pirate’s quest—the search for a key that opens a chest and whoever destroys what’s inside gets control of the oceans. Meanwhile, William Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Turner’s bride-to-be, Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) are arrested by Count Beckett and sentenced to death for assisting Jack Sparrow in the first movie. Count Beckett arranges a deal where he would pardon their crimes and allow them to live only if Will brings back Jack’s compass, which points to one’s greatest desire. As soon as Will leaves, Elizabeth escapes prison and decides to look for Will. Through greed, lies and trickery, the three characters eventually end up on the Black Pearl with a common quest of finding the key to the Dead Man’s Chest.

Although there were many action-packed scenes and special effects, the overly complex plot, irrelevant scenes and cast additions undermined it. I can handle the lame, but short, Matrix-bullet-like scene and the fact that some characters looked like ugly offspring of Lord of the Rings orcs and Finding Nemo animals. But when the bad guy started playing evil organ music with his tentacles, I realized that all these things were humorous because they were so lame. There was even a surprising supporting character who had a starfish on his head. The whole time I kept thinking that he should get some plastic surgery and some Proactive for all that acne he had on his face. And throughout the movie, there is a huge tentacle-ship-eating monster that terrorizes everyone in the film, which reminded me of Godzilla. How did a pirate movie suddenly turn into a freak show?

Every character (even the dog with the keys) from the first movie is haphazardly thrown into the movie just as a preschooler would use every irrelevant crayon color to make a drawing of the sun. The beginning was way too fast and jumped from character to new character, each with his or her individual plot. At times, I didn’t know what was going on because I couldn’t understand what the sea monsters were saying in their sea-monster accent. Even though you may be able to comprehend monster gibberish, be prepared to learn pirate lingo such as Davy Jones, his locker, and the Flying Dutchman, or else you will be truly lost.

I didn’t realize where the movie was heading until an hour and a half into the movie during which the greed of Will Turner, Jack Sparrow and Commodore Norrington caused them to fight for the Dead Man’s Chest. As the movie drew to a disappointing close that matched its beginning, all that was going through my mind was, "Please, oh please, don’t make a sequel and prolong this horrible storyline, which was once good." But then there was an unnecessary and unexpected twist in the last scene of the movie, which will require another pirate sequel that is scheduled to come out next spring.

The only thing that saved this movie from receiving a "dud" rating is the deadpan humor throughout the movie. If you loved the first movie, go ahead and watch Dead Man’s Chest because the movie is not bad overall. The things you liked in the first movie can definitely be found in the sequel. But if you are expecting more like I was, wait for the DVD.