More Yawns Then Yars
Dir: Gore Verbinski
The team behind Pirates of the Caribbean must be pretty satisfied with themselves. Clearly, they think they’ve made a clever pair of movies so far, and the audiences have come in droves. And, I suppose, compared to the Disney theme park ride that the movies are based on, anything can seem clever. I don’t mean to sound harsh, and I’m not just slagging Pirates cause it’s popular, but all of the plot twists, and action scenes modelled after Indiana Jones come across as more goofy than smart. But of course, this is fine for summer fare – and I’d be pretty hypocritical if I criticized Pirates for it’s eleven-year-old boy mentality, while at the same time gushing about how cool the new Superman movie was. Now we’re just haggling over taste…
I can however, rip into the acting. Orlando Bloom may be a pretty face, but he’s no movie star. He can act okay enough, but he has no presence. Depp lights up the screen, but Bloom can’t become more than a vehicle to move the plot forward. I understand that he is the ‘hero’, and heroes are usually the least interesting characters, but Bloom cannot compensate for this, and the result is, he’s boring. His voice is timid and weak when it should be commanding.
Keira Knightley is in the same boat (pun certainly intended). She’s incapable of pulling off the physical comedy required of her, and I can’t for the life of me understand how she inspires a four-way love quadrangle. I suppose though, if you’re at sea for months staring at sweaty pirates, anything can look good, even Keira Knightley. As both Knightley and Bloom seem to get as much screen-time as Depp, it’s too bad they’re so terribly humdrum.
I think my favourite character is the one-eyed Ragetti, played by Mackenzie Crook– so brilliant as Gareth in The Office. He’s been popping up in all kinds of movies recently, and he’s very funny here. The rest of the supporting cast is fine, especially Bill Nighy as Davy Jones. His animated character even has the weird twitches and mannerisms that makes Nighy (of Love Actually and Shaun of the Dead) so funny and watchable.
As for Depp. He says he really likes playing Captain Jack Sparrow, and it’s easy to see why. Rarely does a character original only to the movies spark so much excitement. There’s just something so wonderfully off with Captain Jack. However, I actually grew a bit tired of his character. The Jack Sparrow running away gag can only work so many times. But that’s not to say that Depp fails here – he recreates the success he had in Pirates 1 with ease.
If you’re fan of the first film, then you’re going to enjoy the second one. It does everything a sequel should do: it takes all the ingredients from the first, builds on them, adds some new ones and gives you more bang for your buck. But if you didn’t enjoy the first one – stay well away. Dead Man’s Chest clocks in at a beastly 150 minutes. I was squirming, and not because of the Kraken – amazing CGI, by the way.
I know I sound a bit like, well, if you like it you like it, and if you don’t you don’t. Actually, that is what I’m saying. I hold no ill will against Pirates, or the people who enjoy the movies. I just don’t see what all the fuss is about. And I guess my ambivalence is the largest complaint I can throw at the movie. It’s a technically sound, often funny, well-acted blockbuster that thinks it’s cleverer than it really is. Give me characters I actually care about, and then I might get swept up in the swashbuckling with everybody else.