25 July 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Bored Man's Chest

I loved the first Pirates of the Caribbean. I think that it should have been nominated for Best Picture instead of Master and Commander a few years back. I think that Johnny Depp’s nomination was well deserved. I think that Gore Verbinski ought to have been nominated for his direction. Hans Zimmer’s music was also divine. When the trailer for the second came out, I watched it over and over and over again. When the reviews started coming out for it, I was appalled to see how many critics did not enjoy the second installment. As I mentioned in a previous review, I recently relocated to St. Louis. That moved set me back a week or two in seeing the new releases. So, by the time I got around to seeing this movie, I had heard from critics and friends, that it was not good. Pajiba’s headline was “Too Much of a Mediocre Thing.” Sadly, I agree.

In the first hour of this 150-minute “epic” nothing of any importance happens. It reminded me a lot of Peter Jackson’s King Kong. In this first 60 minutes of pain, they try to scare you with this mystery of what the plot might be. They don’t tell you. It is all whispers and hush-hush. There is also plenty of dazzling visual effects, which have no point in the plot or movie either. The only thing that is set-up in the beginning is that Will and Elizabeth are arrested for helping Jack escape in the first film. Their Captors then use this to blackmail Will into getting a compass from Jack Sparrow. Also, for some reason, some tribe thinks that Jack Sparrow is a God of some sort. That led to mayhem and pointless visual effects and boring script. Finally, after an hour of nonsense, the plot is revealed.

The plot is actually not that bad. It tells the tale of how Jack made a deal with Davy Jones so he would raise the Black Pearl from the ocean’s depths and that he would be captain for thirteen years. Then, after thirteen years, he owes his soul to Davy Jones. They mumbled part of this in the first hour, but you couldn’t understand what Will Turner’s father is saying. We also find out the past story of Davy Jones. His love left him because he loved the sea too much, so he put his heart in a chest, and locked it. So, Sparrow needs to find the key, then find the box, and stab the heart to cancel his debt with Davy. So, visual effects ensue that are so intense that you get bored with them. I love visual effects, and I got bored. I just wanted the scenes to end so that the story could continue. There was a really big squid-octopus-like creature that attacked and ate ships. Davy controlled this sea monstrosity. The Flying Dutchman, the boat that Davy travels on, is apparently a submarine as well as a ship. More visual effects were required to show that.

Finally, the climactic final battle happens, and the story doesn’t end. It turns out that the final joke is on us as viewers. This entire movie’s purpose was to set-up the third. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest could not, and will not, stand alone as a separate adventure of Will, Jack, and Elizabeth. I thought that this movie was just going to be a new adventure. But it was just an episode. Now we all have to wait a year for the next one to open in theaters. If I had known this going into it, I don’t think that I would have been as disappointed. And by known, I mean, had the studio told us this, or marketed it in a way that we could have figured it out.

Verdict: If you like sound and visual effects as much as I do, I say you need to see this movie in theaters. I am glad that I did. If you are like my wife, and you want to see a “good” movie in theaters, then rent this. Let’s face it, with the way the studios waste no time getting movies to video, why spend the $10? After seeing this movie, I have met my quota of visual effects for a while.

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