3/20/07

Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest (2006)

Johnny Depp (Jack Sparrow), Orlando Bloom (Will Turner), Keira Knightley (Elizabeth Swann), Bill Nighy (Davy Jones)

Directed by Gore Verbinski (The Ring)

Plot: To avoid enslaving his soul, Jack Sparrow races to recover the heart of pirate Davy Jones, as other friends and foes seek it for their own agendas.

I am a total movie junkie. If not for... um... life, I'd watch them all the time.

I admit, I cannot remember much about the first Pirates movie other than an overall impression of Johnny Depp's irrepressible coolness and the line about the rum. Otherwise, it melded into my mental catalogue as a rather ornate but slightly dull action movie. I also admit that I watched this movie for two less-than-stellar reasons: 1) because it rivals Titanic as the most successful film of all time, I wanted to see what all the fuss is about, and 2) the photos for the third movie, set in Singapore, grabbed my curiosity. Here's Depp, here's Knightley, and here's Chow Yun-Fat. And here's the new trailer, coincidentally released today. Sweet!

The crux of my problem with this franchise is a lack of emotion. Sparrow is entertaining, but does anyone care about him? I have yet to connect with Keira Knightley in any role. She is lovely and strong and feisty, but she always comes across as too self-assured to be vulnerable. Whereas her young Phantom Menace cohort, Natalie Portman, makes me cry no matter when she appears on screen, Knightley leaves me amused but unmoved. And then there's Orlando Bloom, who actually gives me negative happy estrogen feelings. He's just such a girly-boy that I cannot take him seriously as a badass pirate fighter.

While this sequel thankfully avoided all of the get-to-know-you intros from the original, Depp's Sparrow proved less fresh this time around. He still stole the show, second only to the special effects, but the surprise of his witty, over-the-top character had gone. The role had to have been a blast, though, and he still looked like a man having a great time playing someone so opposed to his own staid, retiring self. And, had I been 13 when watching this film, I would have admired Keira Knightley as a younger, pirate-based Ripley. She swashbuckled with the best of them in an impressive series of fight scenes. Nice one!

I appreciated the supporting cast more than the leads, particularly Tom Hollander of "Wives and Daughters", my favorite Swede, Stellan SkarsgÄrd, and the mesmerising Naomie Harris of 28 Days Later. I do hope Harris, at least, has a more substantial part in the third installment.

The visuals never disappointed, and neither did the sheer scope of Verbinski & Co.'s imagination. A constant sense of "what are they going to think of next?" pervaded the action sequences and the convoluted plot. I took mental notes to fuel my own swashbuckling jones, but nothing here stood out as essential or resonant. A pure popcorn movie. No filler, no apologies, but no heart either.

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