So apparently “Pirates of the Caribbean” is a Disney comedy. Or is it an epic tale about pirates, naturally hidden treasure and nasty creatures that make for good fight scenes? I’m all too confused and mostly disappointed, but at least Johnny Depp is still a great actor.
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” picks up with Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly) about to unite in holy matrimony, which is a horrible way to start or end a movie. To fix that, they’re both arrested and told they will be set free only when the great Jack Sparrow’s compass is handed over. Sparrow (need I even credit Depp?) is unfortunately a bit caught up in an episode of “Caribbean Beach” while trying to find the heart of Davy Jones, or CGI squid man as the previews may have shown you. Mr. Jones steals the show and becomes entangled in everyone’s lives before the story reaches an anticlimactic ending, which features a brilliantly placed tease for the third film.
The worst-case scenario with the story and overall feel of the film was supposed to be a different type of “Pirates of the Caribbean,” not a degraded version. My wish for a continued epic feel was mostly interrupted by poor humor or predictable twists using the same formula as before.
Same writers, same director. Yet, I’m thoroughly convinced those infuriating children who talk about movies on the Disney Channel wrote the dialogue and set up the sometimes-uncomfortable flow of action. You can see it in Depp’s eyes that he’s not pleased with the film. Sparrow’s memorable dialogue from the original film used to flow so naturally out of Depp, making him one of the most notable actors of the millennium. This time around, Depp was given no more than fall-down jokes and desperate slapstick comedy; all devoid of any lines you’ll leave the theater telling your friends.
Surprisingly, the entire cast did a better job acting despite the terrible dialogue they were fed by the suddenly four-year-old writers. Even Orlando Bloom took a few moments to act like an actor, using more than just his eyes to woo the audience. Kiera Knightley added a refreshing new dynamic to Elizabeth that shakes things up a bit instead of sticking to the original film’s predictable dynamic. Added to the cast is the truly talented British actor Bill Nighy, whose most recent memorable role was a dried-up British pop star in “Love Actually.” Nighy went through a painstaking process to become the CGI Davy Jones, a feat that most actors rarely pull off as passable. I look forward to more Nighy in “Pirates 3,” and whatever hopefully epic fate he may eventually meet.
Industrial Light and Magic impressively pulled off both Jones and a great deal of special effects ranging from shark-headed seamen to massive sea-squids that eat ships. Although you can certainly argue that it appears as though green screen’s fight our heroes more than squids do, ILM got it right on enough occasions to score high in the production department. The one scene I can’t seem to get out of my head is when a squid tentacle blasts through one of the lower decks of the Black Pearl and pulls out a pirate. As it pulls it out, however, you can hear and see the tentacle tightly squeezing its way out of the ship. So minor, yet so effective when you take the time to make every part of such a creature realistic.
You will have friends who tell you “Dead Man’s Chest” is better than the original either because their inner child desperately needs to come out or they love Disneyland references. On the flip side, you will have disappointed friends who want to commit suicide to end the pain (you might want to stop talking to them anyway). Unfortunately, “Dead Man’s Chest” fell to a curse that many films have come across; no, not the curse of the Black Pearl. The curse of the average summer flick. While we’re all excited for the third installment, the nauseating disappointment of the first sequel is rotting at different rates in everybody’s stomachs right now. It’s going to be one of those trilogies you force yourself to enjoy because Johnny Depp is so mesmerizing.
You know those trilogies…like the “Cry-Baby” trilogy? Classic Depp trilogy.