With the dust finally settled on the stunning payoff numbers for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
, I joined a large group of friends to see it last night in Burlington. The hype that has deservedly built up since the first one was released has just continued to amaze me. I watched The Curse of the Black Pearl
with my brother Nathan pretty close to the opening week. Since we came away with the same side-splitting laughs and good natured thrills as the rest of the world, why wouldn't I go see the second production?
So how was the movie... (Are you ready for this?)
I expressed to several different people before I saw the movie that the only reason I was going to watch it was for the pure entertainment value. It's what I got out of the first one and was all I could expect from this one. But pure entertainment value is exactly where the movie failed to deliver beyond a smorgasbord of special effects.
The problems, broken down
The primary reason Pirates
2 failed where number 1 succeeded was the glaring lack of focus on any one thing or group of things. It was an exhausting marathon as a direct result. Not only are there more "main characters" than the movie can handle (most all carried over from the last movie, often with little to justify their presence), there is also an absurd number of just about everything else: villains (Jones, the company, and the natives), expendable ships and ship crews to get gratuitously annihilated (first Pearl crew, second Pearl crew, first merchant ship, second merchant ship, etc), objects of pursuit (compass, key, chest, heart, dirt, ship, etc)...and last but not least, twists to the plot--they came so thick and fast, I was wishing for the movie to end a half-hour early. It was complicated, full of loose ends, and the whole seemed to distract from any potential valuable plot points.
This movie tried to do too much...which brings me to my second point.
Point 2:Dead Man's Chest
was so full of little details and a myriad of surprises, it almost seemed self-consciously preoccupied with trying to out-do The Curse of the Black Pearl
. Perhaps that's just the Disney influence shining through. Perhaps that's just a production company trying to capitalize on a proven market. Whatever the case, they tried TOO HARD. I'm sorry but the first movie was a good story, well crafted, and nicely closed--a movie that could stand on it's one story, plot, and cast without a figurative "to be continued" tag at the end like some moronic TV series. Now that a series of sequels is being pursued, it seems like all sense of closure is out the window. Not only are we left in a huge black hole of uncertainty regarding what's going to happen next, we also have no character development to help us understand what has transpired or what is to come for that matter.
I'm going to have to stop before I start the run-on sentence thing.
One final complaint (and to help illustrate my last point on character development):
-MAJOR SPOILER ALERT-
Commodore Norrington, the man so fondly remembered for his idealistic zeal to "see that all pirates get what's coming to them: a sort drop and a sudden stop," is one resuscitated character, having resigned his commission, and become a drunken brute of a man in the process, he presents a stark contrast (and a somewhat unbelievable one at that) to the previous version. Why this change. Perhaps we will never know, because the movie gave us no real depth of understanding to his character, and portrayed what was a huge, nonsensical transformation as just a point of humor and the convenient addition of an extra villain.