Sunday, July 02, 2006

MovieWatch: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"
Director: Gore Verbinski
Fien Print Rating (Out of 100): 65
In a Nutshell: Viewers who loved the first "Pirates of the Caribbean" because it was an epic thrill-ride full of stunts and effects won't leave the sequel disappointed. Viewers who thought the first movie was self-indulgent, over-long, but saved by Johnny Depp's out-of-left-field performance may not be so enthusiastic. "Dead Man's Chest" proves that the only lesson Verbinski and screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio learned from the success of the first movie is that bigger is better. Thus, everything that was wrong with the first movie is magnified. It's still impossible to give a hang about Orlando Bloom's character and difficult to care about Keira Knightley's. There are still far too many pauses between the action scenes, pauses that allow the sequel's running time to bloat to an unjustified 150 minutes. In fact, the amount of filler is at a record level here, because "Dead Man's Chest" is always just the middle part of a trilogy, a bridge between the first movie and next summer's conclusion. Thus, you can sense the writers in a room trying to figure out amiable ways to kill time. Fortunately, there's plenty to watch on screen while Elliott and Rossio spin their wheels. The effects in "Dead Man's Chest" are utterly spectacular, always diverting enough to distract from their inherent superfluousness. Bill Nighy's tentacle-faced Davey Jones is an amazing creation, so impressive that I was never sure where the actor ended and the make-up or CGI began. As for Depp, he's entertaining and occasionally hilarious, but the shocking originality of his performance is gone. So much effort was put into analyzing Jack Sparrow when the first movie came out that the character, while still a winner, is no longer capable of surprise. Certain moments or choices that were so absurd the first time around can now be reduced to "Oh, that's just Jack Sparrow being Jack Sparrow."

My full "Pirates" review will be up on Zap2it on Monday, July 3.

Oh and if you wonder why blog entries have been a bit scarce lately, it's because I've been cheating on this blog with our Zap2it Los Angeles Film Festival semi-blog. It's up here, if you care to catch up.

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