Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Undead Monkey Ahoy

Right, so, as I loosely promised last night, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest was on the plate for today (yeah, I’m a few days behind the curve. I know).

I must admit to being a little torn about it. Visually, the movie knocks it out of the park. ILM did a hell of a job with Davey Jones and the Flying Dutchman’s crew. The story was great for an action movie, with the plot and subplots all moving forward at a nice clip. Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow is exactly as he should be and the movie lets you know that he’s the center of the POTC universe, and that’s a good thing. Keira Knightley is still sigh-inducingly beautiful. It’s a great movie. There’s no doubt about that. You will leave the theatre thoroughly entertained.
Its just that the POTC: Curse of the Black Pearl left me leaving the theatre with the heady euphoria of seeing something extraordinarily new and original. While there’s no lack of big awe-inspiring moments in Dead Man’s Chest, some of the sense of wonder is missing. Part of has to be the fact that the Disney Marketing Machine™ has put their entire weight behind this movie, unlike the previous one. The toys and books have been out since at least May, so Davey Jones isn’t nearly as surprising when you first see him. Oh sure, there’s stuff later on that provides some great surprises. In the first film, Jack Sparrow’s an unstoppable force. Crazy as a loon, yes, but someone with an ace up his sleeve whenever he needs it. It feels slightly less like that in this movie. He’s still Jack Sparrow, but he’s unnerved this time around.

One thing that was an absolute joy about this sequel was that it kept a lot of characters around from the first one. Some, like Jack’s crew, are logical nods to continuity. Others make for some great surprises that I’m not going to spoil here. The great thing about them is that even the side characters actually get to grow and develop too. Be prepared for a “to be continued” ending though. Although Empire Strikes Back ending on a similar note, so its not a big deal. Audiences loved the first one, they love the second one, and they’re going to keep on lovin’ the franchise. At least as long as they don’t decide they want to make prequels.

And yes, there is an undead monkey that Jack loves to shoot. S’wonderful, really.

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