Friday, July 07, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - Movie Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest 2006

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . . a sexy young hero, a spirited young lady, a ne’er do well charming rogue and two bickering sidekicks fought the good fight against dark forces threatening their way of existence. The film was called “Star Wars”, in case you’ve been in a coma for thirty years and spawned the most successful movie franchise of all time. Six films later, and countless rip-offs . . . we have the latest carbon copy disguised as a piratical romp through heavy CGI laden waters. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” is of course the latest boondoggle attempt by the Disney studio to steal your precious money and force you into watching an endless reassemblage of the same scenes from the first “Pirates” flick of three years ago.

What that earlier hit had going for it, was the uproarious central performance by our boy Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow: a drunken, polymorphously perverse cad whose heart of stolen gold turned a rather noisy overblown brawl with animated skeletons into a must see flick that landed Mr. Depp his first Oscar nomination in his twenty year career. Sashaying across the planks, tossing out slurred bon mots and juggling cowardice, bravery and quick wit into a singularly fascinating creation.

Thankfully Johnny is back for more in the middle of the trilogy (God help us, there’s more.), alongside various cast mates who fall far short of his grandeur. Orlando Bloom of the bedroom eyes and perfect cheekbones once again attempts his Errol Flynn impersonation but is saddled with the worst lines and a hangdog expression. The flimsy plot, what little there is concerns his desperate attempts at finding Jack Sparrow in order to secure a pardon for having helped him in the first film. However, since swashbuckling seems to be in his characters blood, wouldn’t it just have been easier to attempt to free his imprisoned beloved and head for the hills?

As the beloved, Keira Knightley affirms our earlier summation of her incredible knack of draining any character of the smallest spark of life. Seriously, she just might be the one actor alive today whose success completely mystifies us.

And you know the poor bint is flailing when she is outacted by two hambone character types as R2D2 and C-3PO . . . or rather, Pintel and Ragetti: the clownish tall & skinny versus the short and round sidekicks whose pratfalls and ceaseless chatter are either meant to inspire an epileptic seizure or complete disdain.

Various other deformed extras are tottered out from the first flick to serve as scene fillers and fish food for the larger goal – to completely overload us with CGI effects of sea monsters, exploding brigands, and the requisite ghostly villains who this time around are portrayed as half-ghost / half-sea creature. It’s like they opened a Red Lobster on “The Island of Dr. Moreau”.

The only actors who muster up a degree of adventure and panache amidst the explosions and artifice are Bill Nighy, a natural scene stealer as the legendary denizen of the deep – Davy Jones. Swathed in digital effects meant to smother his talent by topping his head off with a calamari salad, his line delivery and incredibly expressive eyes do much to maintain our interest. But not enough.

Stellan Skarsgård as Bootstrap Bill, (Great name, very lost member of the Village People.) the doomed father of our finger licking good Orlando Bloom also manages to register at the heartstrings with his woeful tale of sacrifice and regret. Unfortunately, the calamari face is easier to accept than the Moules Frites platter sprouting from Bootstraps cheeks. Thank God they only chose to focus on the cheeks above the neckline.

And finally, for us at least . . . there are tons of characters in this flick, but only three stand-outs . . . is Naomie Harris from “28 Days Later . . .” and “Tristram Shandy” fame who has a rollicking good time as the swamp dwelling voodoo priestess Tia Dalma. Her straight out of the adventure ride hovel is the only visually creative moment in a film desperate to please the eyepatch. Tits shoved up to heaven and oozing a hellish mysticism, Naomie hits just the right note of kiddie adventure caricature meets horror movie staple.

The rest of the film is a painfully drawn out shout fest that leaves us deafened and sore from the two and a half hour running time. A running time that somehow manages to resolve no plot points, and merely serves as an elongated middle chapter to the alleged finale. And here is where the “Star Wars” comparisons come full circle. We don’t mind that the Disney elves lifted the basic frame of that stellar show - hell, even George Lucas borrowed from the great Kurosawa as a template. Even though the second chapter of that classic Sci-fi fantasy managed to leave us hanging in the middle . . . it did so with vitality and verve. And a real sense of wonder at the magic of movies. This film presents a series of ridiculously overwrought escape scenarios that only manage to prolong the inevitable monster from the deep destroys the ship shot that was old after Ray Harryhausen first mastered it.

Ultimately the saddest thing about this bloated mess is the wasted talent of Johnny Depp. His Jack Sparrow is a great creation, overturning so many stereotypical cinematic pirates, that to see him stumble across the fishing line thin plot is a truly barbaric act. Not once does he manage to break free of the chains despite his manic clowning. All of the fun of the original has been rung dry here, and there is nothing magical, adventurous or enthralling to view. A true waste of time and talent. Shame on you, Disney! For the studio that once was synonymous with “Magic” has now officially bogged itself down in the doldrums swamp. Bless you all!

Directed by Gore Verbinski
Written by Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow
Orlando Bloom as Will Turner
Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swann
Jack Davenport as Norrington
Bill Nighy as Davy Jones
Jonathan Pryce as Governor Weatherby Swann
Lee Arenberg as Pintel
Mackenzie Crook as Ragetti
Stellan Skarsgård as Bootstrap Bill
Tom Hollander as Cutler Beckett
Naomie Harris as Tia Dalma
Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa

Cinematography by Dariusz Wolski
Film Editing by Stephen E. Rivkin & Craig Wood
Original Music by Hans Zimmer
Production Design by Rick Heinrichs
Art Direction by John Dexter
Set Decoration by Cheryl Carasik
Costume Design by Liz Dann & Penny Rose


Post a Comment

<< Home