Friday, July 21, 2006

eyeCandy: Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest (2006) 4/5

Okay, okay, okay. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is probably a 3/5 movie if I wanted to be totally objective - it's a serious retread of the original film and, clocking in at almost two and a quarter hours, it's in dire need of tightening - but I just get too much enjoyment out of the marvelous visual work done on the oceany Davy Jones and his crew and, as I believe I've already mentioned on these pages, I think Johnny Depp is the greatest actor of his generation and is simply a pleasure to watch act.

So what's this one all about? Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and his love Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) have gotten into trouble for helping out that rascal Jack Sparrow (as accounted in the first film). Their only way out of this situation is to somehow acquire Jack's mysterious compass and return it to some scheming nobleman for a pardon. Unfortunately, this quest coincides with the supernatural horror of Davy Jones and his mutated crew of undead sea-men who have returned seeking Jack's soul in repayment of a debt. But what chance is there of defeating such horrors? Only to recover the Dead Man's Chest containing the still-beating heart of Davy Jones - possession of which allows you to control Jones and the waters he rules!

Johnny Depp once again does a great job on his cross-dressing, rock star pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow, but the impact is simply not as powerful as it was in the first movie, which isn't that surprising. For the most part, the other actors in the film perform aptly but the movie doesn't really seem to be moving until Depp hits the screen. Actually, there is one exception to this - Davy Jones is a wonder to behold. This computer animated creature (performed by Bill Nighy) is a phenomenal achievement in visual effects. His crew are similarly interesting to behold, but Jones himself really transcends his animated nature to become a suitably convincing foil for Depp's Sparrow.

Was this movie as good as the first one? No, I don't think so. Although director Gore Verbinski and co. definitely made a valiant effort to add more flash and flair to the proceedings this time, the fact remains that the results exhibit some poor pacing and, in the absence of the superb technical work that was achieved, could have resulted in a relatively flat picture. That said, I certainly enjoyed the Dead Man's Chest and hold out some hope that the third installment of the series will leverage this considerable technological investment while learning from the missteps made here.

PS: This film ends with a scene leading immediately into the third installment of the series - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, coming in 2007 - which was shot back-to-back with this movie.
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7/21/2006 11:57:00 p.m.  


Anonymous Amber Mac said...

Johnny Depp is just AWESOME in this movie, but I have to give it a 3/5 ;-).


July 23, 2006 9:47 p.m.  
Anonymous Alex R said...

I think when one takes a step back and considers that this film was basically disjointed (intentionally or not) from its other half, a different rating should be given. Maybe everyone should even wait for its better half to come out to give this movie a rating at all.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say this movie deserved at least 3.5, for the following points:

1) The sheer impressivness of the CG and special effects.

2) I don't think the story was as weak as everyone makes it out to be. It kept me from looking at my watch by the time the second hour rolled around. Plus you have to remember that there is a definite second half. It did seem like someone came in the room and shut off the t.v., though, when the end came around.

Maybe this film is just another case of poor editing (i.e. "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" vs. "The Phantom Edit").

July 25, 2006 3:29 p.m.  
Blogger Jeff MacArthur said...

You have some good points, Alex.

I'll be curious to see how the third installment rides off of this second one. Not that it's too close a comparison, but it's the same kind of feeling that made me originally not like the Two Towers as much as the first and third installments of the Lord of the Rings. In a story with any real continuity the middle one typically loses out (not that the first to second episodes of this have as strong a connection as it looks like the second and third will).

And yeah, like Phantom Menace/Edit, there are many, many, many movies out there that could use some serious re-editing for pacing (and a strong editor to combat the egos of a lot of "long-winded" directors ;-) ).

July 25, 2006 7:44 p.m.  

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