Pirates 2: Dead Man's Chest Review
*** VERY Minor spoilers ***
I saw Pirates 2 on Saturday night. I had heard mixed things from people about it. Some said it had a few problems, and others said they absolutely hated it. No one I spoke with before I saw it said they loved it, or that is was amazing.
My feelings? Not nearly as good as the first, but definitely fun and relatively good, just flawed. I enjoyed it overall, and honestly, I'm not really sure where the vitriol of those who truly hated this film came from. Were they just expecting a lot more from it?
These were the main problems, as far as I could tell. Firstly, the main plot throughline is somewhat muddled. Whereas in the first film, it was clear from the outset what the goal was, in this film it kept shifting. While this adds to the mystery, it detracts from the audience's investment. And in a big action film of this sort, we don't want to have to work too hard to figure out what is happening; we want to know what the characters want so that we can focus on the fun.
Second, much too long. I mean this both in terms of the sequences that were included, and in terms of the lengths of individual scenes/sequences. The sequence near the beginning of the film with Jack et al on the cannibal island, while humorous and entertaining, is entirely extraneous. I wouldn't cut it out entirely, but I'd have started much later in the sequence and shortened it. Nearly ever fight sequence was about 1/4-1/3 too long. In particular, I'm thinking of the three-way sword fight. Simply boring, largely due to its extended length. And let's discuss the giant wheel thing during that sequence. Wasn't this a bit too similar to the rolling cage in the cannibal sequence? Do we really need both fo these in the same film? Trim a lot of this stuff and you lose a half hour of the film and gain a much more lean script that moves better.
To my eyes, those were the two biggest weaknesses of the film. If the script were distilled into a shorter version, with less rambling and a more focused throughline, this film becomes much stronger.
I also have to say that taking the Back to the Future 2/Matrix 2 route, and making the second and third films in the trilogy into a single story is a bit annoying and even a little insulting. There was little doubt of the success of this film, and despite the middling reviews, it has still remained #1 for three weeks in a row and brought in massive box office. Did the studio really worry about trying to ensure people return for #3? I say this because unless there is a true trilogy of three connected films, conceived as such (e.g. Lord of the Rings), the only logical reason to make parts two and three as a single continuous story as opposed to simply individual stories (e.g. Godfather or Blade) is a lack of faith in your audience. "If we don't finish the story in the second film they'll want to/have to come back to find out what happens in the end!" Sorry, but that insults me. And I believe it hurts both films!
Despite all that, I did enjoy this film. It was good, clean, entertaining fun. Sure there were other minor problems here and there, but I have no need to dwell on them now. I will say, however, that I impressed myself by recognizing the actor playing Davy Jones under all that bizarre octopus facial prosthetics as none other than my favorite current character actor. I guess I recognized his voice, mannerisms, and even his eyes. Glad to see him progressing in his career!
Tags: Pirates+of+the+Caribbean, Pirates+2, Dead+Man's+Chest, movie+sequels