A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 7 – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

I think I’m definitely going to be ready for some non-pirate movies when this trilogy is done. Not that I didn’t enjoy yesterday’s, or today’s, and not that I won’t enjoy tomorrow’s. They’re not high art by any means, but there’s a place for mindless pirate antics. I’m just not in the mood today and don’t anticipate being in the mood tomorrow. At least tomorrow’s will be new to me. I’m sort of zoning through Dead Man’s Chest tonight.

The minor baddie in this one starts out immediately far more smack-worthy than Norrington ever did. While that’s good for the plot, I have the intended visceral dislike of such characters. Bureaucratic tyrants wielding power and fucking with people because they’ve been given an excuse to and enjoying every moment of it bring out my vindictive nature. They don’t make the movie enjoyable for me. They make me want them off my screen so I can watch things that won’t piss me off.

Sadly, they’re a common device.

Let’s talk about things I don’t like and things I do like.

On the don’t like column:
The trying-too-hard inclusion of things like “Why is the rum gone?”
Sadistic little prick of an East India Company bureaucrat.
The cannibal tribe stuff.
The disjointed nature of the plot – I’ll talk a little more about this in a moment.

On the do like column:
The undead monkey. (Best line in the movie IMO)
The effects of Davy Jones’ crew.
The kraken.
Elizabeth. Just in general. She is far and away a more awesome character than pretty much everyone else in the film.
Davy Jones himself. Fantastic baddie and special effects.
The three way Norrington/Will/Jack sword fight. But like I said: Me = sword fight sucker.

The movie has a whole lot crammed into it and lacks a lot of the spirit that was in the first one. It just doesn’t ring as true as the first and it’s not as much fun to watch. It’s still fun, in parts, but not as much. And I remember enjoying it in the theater. But I’m just not enjoying it that much tonight. Like I said. Bits and pieces. But as a whole? Meh. There’s the love triangle, Davy Jones, East India Trading Company, Norrington’s downfall, Will and his father, the whole thing with the cannibals, it’s just too much. Where the first movie had a lot of stuff that all fit together smoothly and formed a fantastic plot (Andy likened it to a puzzle and I think he’s right) this one’s more like a couple of puzzles banged together like Patsy Stone was in charge. Seriously, go find the pertinent episode of Absolutely Fabulous.

March 7, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

March 7, 2010

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

The question that this movie begs is this: can lightening strike twice?  The first movie is a concept that should never have worked: a summer blockbuster movie based on a Disneyland ride.  But unlike other attempts (does anybody remember Haunted Mansion and Tower of Terror?) it was great and did well, thanks to a great script and a great cast.  So if you get the same cast, the same director, and the same screenwriters all together and throw a bucket load of money at them can they duplicate their feat?  How about if you tell them: “go ahead and make two movies this time – let’s make Pirates into an epic trilogy like them Lord of the Rings movies.”

The answer, in my opinion of course, is not quite.

Part of the problem is that this movie naturally suffers from middle movie syndrome.  As with most trilogies the second film must leave things unresolved to lead into the third film and create that epic feel.  But it’s much more than that.  Another part of the problem is that they try to create this love triangle between Jack, Will and Elizabeth.  Which doesn’t work because it’s well established in the first movie that the only person Jack can love is himself.  Indeed the whole notion of Jack Sparrow (Sorry, Captain Jack Sparrow) so unable to make up his mind what he wants that he can’t get the compass to work doesn’t work for me.  He’s a schemer and plotter – who may not ever be honest with any other soul – but he knows what he wants and usually has some underhanded plan to get it.  And part of the problem is that, after all he’s been through in the first movie, Will Turner seems not to have learned a thing, and is perhaps more trusting and naive than ever before.

Most of the problem, however, is that this movie just isn’t fun.  It’s a good movie.  It has spectacular special effects.  Bill Nighy, despite being almost completely obscured by computer graphical magic, steals the show as the tortured soul Davey Jones.  But in spite of the spectacle there just isn’t the joy and the swashbuckling pleasure of the first movie.  The humor comes all from gruesome gags like cages made from former crew mates.  The cannibals who foolishly believe Jack Sparrow to be a god are played with deadly sincerity.  The undead crew of the Flying Dutchman are an awesome lot of creepy monsters, but they’re never fun in the way the zombie pirates of the first movie are.  There is even a big three-way sword fight that goes on long after it’s stopped being entertaining.  (An attempt to top the fantastic duals from the first movie.)

Our heroes are mired in mortal danger from the rain-soaked opening to the betentacled end.  And every innocent bystander they encounter along the way (even the comic relief) ends up dead or worse.

Like I said – it’s a good movie.  Full of spectacle and adventure.  But as a sequel it’s bound to be compared to it’s predecessor.  And how could it live up to that?  It does show some promise in the very last scene as it lays groundwork for At World’s End.

I should probably add my disappointment that the mighty Kraken is never truly revealed.  They build it up through two major ship sinkings and give you a brief glimpse of it underwater.  But in the final encounter you still don’t really get to see it.  And in the third movie.. well that’s for tomorrow.

March 7, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment