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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean--SPOILER attached

--posted by Tony Garcia on 7/11/2006

We went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest this past Friday. I have to admit that it was one of my most anticipated movies...though my expectations were not too high to begin with. Too many good and/or funny movies (Matrix, Analyze This, Meet the Parents) have been ruined by the sequel (Matrix Reloaded and Revolution, Analyze That, Meet the Fokkers).

The movie opens with a broken wedding and a very odd arrest scene. Let's see, there is a raid during the wedding to arrest people...but I guess the authorities were only going to raid the compound to arrest their accused one at a time...because they arrested the first and upon reading the charges accidentally read charges for another.

That is how solid the "continuity" of the movie is. So if continuity is that big to you then you may not enjoy this movie.

About 2 weeks ago I heard a review on the radio. They said basically:
This movie is more cartoony than the first...and you may not even think that could be possible. Typically cartoony, especially in a sequel, ruins the movie. Surprisingly it is very good to the movie. It works.
I agree with the whole thing. It is more cartoony. If you have already seen the movie then you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you have not seen the movie you are now probably thinking what I did when I heard the review, "Great, cartoony, that is just going to make the movie suck." Well, cartoony REALLY DOES WORK in this movie.

Curse of the Black Pearl worked for a lot of reasons that probably should have been duplicated in this movie. The plot was simple. It had many threads and twists but the viewer was never expected to guess the twists (like Sixth Sense or Usual Suspects). In Dead Man's the key components are dished out in small and subtle bits...so much so that I did not get refills on my soda for fear of missing one or more of the key plot hints.

This next item is both a minus and a plus. Every main character from the first movie was in the second movie. The first 8 billings (according to IMDB) are in the 2nd movie. That is the minus. The plus is that the 2nd movie worked them all into the plot very well. Well, kind of. With some of them the initial reaction was, "What in the world is he in this movie for? How stupid." Then as the story unfolds you realize that there is a legitimate reason for that character. I say kind of because of this.

In the last 30 seconds of the movie Geoffrey Rush makes his entrance introducing solidfying the horrid realization that this movie is "to be continued".

At what point did you realize this was not a stand alone movie? I mean, knowing that Dead Man's Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End were being filmed at the same time was an indication. But at what point IN the movie did you realize that? My wife's moment was when the dog took off on the island to be chased by the natives. For me it was starting when the jar of sand was sitting in the rowboat and was cemented when Norrington (Jack Davenport) walked into Lord Cutler Beckett's (Tom Hollander) office with the heart.

Now, this was marketing genius. I believe that if the public knowledge was this was part 1 of 2 there would not have been the record smashing opening weekend. I mean, Lord of the Rings we knew would be a multi-part movie and we could easily imagine the story. We were willing to agonize through the year between releases because we knew there was a payoff...no disappointment for the ending. With an original screeplay we are not the confident and so we might not be willing to go rushing to opening weekend for the Part 1. There is more to the logic behind this conclusion...but it is unnecessary to get into. It is moot and only a hypothetical. Nonetheless I believe NOT advertising the Part 1 aspect of this film was the best decision...even though that was what I like the least about the film.

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) was indeed a major character in the first. He was not the primary character and so his antics were comic relief mixed with a major character. In this movie it seems that his antics and his character are THE heavy lifter of the movie. In the first movie it seemed that Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly) were part of an ensemble. Now they are more of the supporting cast along with previously minor character Gibson (Kevin McNally). The effect of this is Depp's character and eccentricities are a bit overplayed and thin.

Another plus and minus of the movie is that EVERY CHARACTER has "shades of grey" in their character. As one reviewer on Box Office Mojo put it, "Nearly everyone appears willing to make a deal with the devil." It does add more flexibility in the plot twists, but it "taints" the purer sides of the characters (like Turner) for thsoe who care about that.

These are the things that I felt were the drawbacks. The wit and humor I found to be from the exact same mold from the first movie...maybe even moreso.

I have heard from many younger kids that the first movie was a little to scary for them. That is more for the effects (the skeletons) than anything else. This one had themes that I would say should exclude kids under 13 or so from watching the movie. Additionally the effects still might be a little too intense for the younger kids...though probably not as bad as the first.

I laughed frequently and aside from the above stated speed bumps on the road to greatness I think the movie was well worth the hassle and expense of seeing it in a full theatre. We may even see the film again in the theatre.

Overall, I would have to give the film a B-.

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Blogger George Berryman said...

Hey there Tony. Good observation about the wedding but the continuity from film to film is intact - note Lord Beckett's 'P' poker which apparently gave Sparrow the branding scar on his arm.

Also, spot on about the comedy aspect of Jack Sparrow becoming the main character whereas Will and Elizabeth, for the most part, seem pushed to the wayside. Though Elizabeth did at least get the 'ghost' substory, which was amusing.

July 12, 2006  

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