Friday, July 21, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Title: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)
Dir: Gore Verbinski
Rating: ***1/2 out of 5 stars

To review this movie concisely: it is flawed, not as good as Curse of the Black Pearl, but still highly enjoyable for fans of the series.

Jack Sparrow has some irritating, off-character moments in this one, but he also has enough funny ones to counterbalance. Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) is as useless and annoying in this as he was in the first film. Maybe even more so. I think I liked Elizabeth Swan (Kiera Knightly) about the same, but I like where the writers are taking her character.

Luckily, Dead Man's Chest gives a lot more screentime to previously supporting characters, including the two bumbling pirates Pintel and Ragetti, the Pearl's crew of scallywags, and the former Commodore Norrington (who is much cooler in this).

The new characters are great. I thought the voodoo priestess Tia Dalma (Naomi Harris) would annoy me, but I liked her. Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander), the new British asshole on the block, is delightfully nasty. Stellan SkarsgÄrd is great as Bootstrap Bill. And best of all - Davy Jones, played by the ever-fantastic Bill Nighy, who almost steals the movie from Depp. Nighy's eccentric nuances show right through that CGI octopus-face and the results are wonderful. Major props to the FX crew who perfectly captured Nighy's quirks and incorporated them into the tentacled face. Just brilliant.

So what's the problem? Well for one thing, the story is excessively complex. After two viewings, yeah, I get it, but it could've been cut down. It seems like Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio tried to squeeze too much into this film, and frankly, I don't know how they are going to wrap it all up in At World's End (the next and final film). Secondly, the dialouge is sometimes weak, especially at the start. Many of the jokes fell flat or soared over viewers' heads. Third, Jack's quirks seem way too forced at times, and one or two made no sense at all. But as I said, he has some great, quotable moments that I loved, especially when I watched the film a second time. Finally, not all the action scenes are as exciting as they should be. The big wheel scene kinda bored me. I didn't mind the 2.5 hour length as much as most people, but it probably could've shed a little length.

In short, Dead Man's Chest is weaker than its predecessor, but its flaws are mostly forgivable. Even if you don't like this film, you'll probably still be left wanting more. It provides a plethora of cockteases for the viewer, especially the very end. I personally am very excited to see the next installment.