Sunday, July 09, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

2006, US, directed by Gore Verbinski

Rating: ***

There was much derisory comment when the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was announced, given that the film was based on a theme park ride, and much surprise when it actually turned out to be quite a decent blockbuster movie. The sequel returns to the theme park origins, proposing thrills and spills aplenty, but a confusing plot and a laundry list of incidents and characters that's less than coherent. That's almost beside the point, however, since these flaws are brushed aside by the headlong action, and the often spectacular set-pieces (as outraegous as it might be to spend $200 million on a movie, it sure looks as though it all ended up onscreen, with stunning locations, large-scale shipboard battles, and the proverbial cast of thousands); my brain knows it's not good cinema, but the rest of me thinks it's too much fun to bother listening to my brain. While Johnny Depp's take on Captain Jack Sparrow inevitably loses some of its freshness this time around, there's a worthy villain in the shape of Davy Jones. The character is an amalgam of traditional and CGI effects, all wrapped around actor Bill Nighy, and the filmmakers do a remarkable job of preserving Nighy's distinctive, and often hilarious, facial expressions despite all of the makeup. Stellan Skarsgård also turns in a decent performance, as Orlando Bloom's old man, underneath layers of repellent sea-bottom materials.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States