Sunday, August 06, 2006

"Who wrote this thing, Paul Thomas Anderson? Edit, people!"

I promised Jen that I'd take myself over to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest this weekend on her behalf, since she's too lazy to get her shapely behind into a multiplex. :) I also saw Cars (saying this is the worst Pixar movie to date is like saying "Lift Me Up" is Geri Halliwell's best record - it's only in comparison to all the others - but it's horribly close to DreamWorks at times. And not the DreamWorks of The Prince of Egypt, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas and Over The Hedge either, and not only because they replaced the voice of Lightning's agent on UK prints... I should have known this wouldn't be up to Pixar's high standards when they called in Jeremy Clarkson*).
Anyhoo, Pirates of the Blahblahblah. I liked the new Walt Disney Pictures logo (the castle in three dimensions with backgrounds and everything); I liked Johnny Depp's performance as much as in the first one, although he doesn't get as much screen time this time alas; and Bill Nighy as Davy Jones was good too, with great squid makeup to boot. The trouble is, the movie's structured as the first part of a two-parter and it takes its time about it; careful setting up of characters is one thing, but writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (whose names on a project never bodes well for me, with the exceptions of Aladdin and The Mask of Zorro) just faff about for a lot of the film's two and a half hours. Turner is sent off to get something to help him and Elizabeth escape the noose, Sparrow is off to get the same thing to help him wriggle out of a deal he made with Jones, Elizabeth sets out to get some information to help her and Turner escape... this isn't so much an adventure-fantasy as a very, very, very long version of the story about the old woman who wanted some help with a pig (everyone she asked wanted her to get someone else to help them, and so on).
Plus, it's an adventure-fantasy that throws in everything from cannibals to sea monsters but little in the way of plot coherence or thrilling scenes. Like Lethal Weapon 4, the impression is that everyone concerned was having such a good time making the movie that they forgot to focus on getting the story started; this was a problem with the first movie, and it's worse here because this is exactly what a lot of people accused Back to the Future Part II of being, namely a long trailer for the third movie. It just goes along with not much actual momentum until it abruptly stops with the setting-up completed. (Although to be fair, the unexpected and uncredited appearance of a major character from the first movie does bode well for the next one. Since Jen hasn't seen the original, I think she should, otherwise she'll have no idea why this is a good thing.)
Just to make matters worse, the movie stretches credibility too much even for a fantasy-adventure (even I, who can suspend disbelief from incalculably high altitudes - as you'd expect from someone who's watched every episode of Charmed - even I have to draw the line somewhere. And when the plot expects us to accept Keira Knightley disguising herself as a man and people falling for it, that line is very much drawn... not least since her hair is cut short for the illusion and then suddenly appears long and flowing again). Coincidences to get all the key people where they have to be do not a good plotline make, either. And really, as with the first movie does it have to be so long? (Hence the Lorelei Gilmore quote.)
Orlando Bloom proves again that he's probably the only actor in the world to seem less macho with blonde hair, but Naomie Harris, Jack Davenport and most of the rest of the cast are better (Keira's a bit too BBC-ish to be effective); Hans Zimmer and chums's music isn't a help, but the ILM/Asylum/Orphanage/etc. effects are; and there's a nice joke after the end credits, but not enough ones before them. It really is a fairground attraction of a movie; nothing but a ride, and not much of one at that. I didn't hate it, but in a perfect world Superman Returns would take in the cash that this and Cars are rolling in.
In short, Jen might like it, but I doubt it. She should see the first one and then decide.

*Jeremy Clarkson is a loudmouthed motoring TV personality, and a right-wing jerk to boot. I hate him.


The Archivist said...

All you've said means that for me, maybe even the DVD isn't worth it. You've given the first really decent overview that I've read and the movie hasn't impressed me.

Samuel Van Eerden said...

Thanks for pointing that out. Mark has, yes, done quite a few more films then just "The Ultimate Gift" (and others I mentioned); but this is perhaps the most MAJOR of all the movies he's ever scored.

Cindylover1969 said...

True enough; he's earned it after all his sterling service as an orchestrator. (Anyone puzzled at the above exchange should visit Samuel's blog.)