Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

29 July 2006


Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, the sequel to the wildly popular (and much loved by me) Pirates of the Caribbean: the Curse of the Black Pearl, is a serious piece of shit of a movie.

With a running time of two hours, thirty minutes, the best word for Dead Man's Chest is probably "bloated." There are more things wrong with this movie, but all (or most) of them could have been solved at a running time of one hour, forty-five minutes. Instead, the movie just goes on and on with no end in sight (and no end given, I might add.) The plot is nearly incoherent. Some of the jokes are funny. To look at Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow character is to laugh. It's a performance filled with big guffaws, ridiculous prancings-around and hilarious muggings to the camera. But I wouldn't particularly call it good acting. I thought his performance in The Curse of the Black Pearl was a work of brilliant acting, filled with all kinds of things; in addition to being a wonderful clown performance, I felt it possessed a depth uncommon in films of this kind. This has mostly changed in Dead Man's Chest. The signature Jack Sparrow walk, talk and look are there, but the depth is nowhere to be found.

The rest of the acting is mostly atrocious. Orlando Bloom (as dreamy-looking as ever) plays everything very earnestly. This is a very annoying habit of his. He ought to take himself (and certainly this Will Turner character of his) a little less seriously. (No one else is taking him seriously, so why he feels the need to play it straight is beyond me.) The same goes for Keira Knightley, who I sort-of like since Pride & Prejudice. In this picture, though, she spends a lot of time behaving as though she is very, very sexy and to me she is very, very not sexy. She needs to gain some weight. I don't mean to criticize her appearance, I just mean to point out that whatever she's playing at is not working for her. I really liked her in one sequence, though, so I should mention it: Orlando, Johnny and Jack Davenport (Commandant Norrington—who doesn't at all belong in this movie) are having a preposterous three-way sword fight and Keira starts to do a kind of slapstick screaming tantrum thing that feels fresh in this stale movie. Stellan Skarsgård is in the movie as William Turner the elder, Jonathan Pryce is back doing his idiotic British governor routine and Tom Hollander shows up, pugnacious and irritating as usual (can he play a nice character for once?). The only other actor worth mentioning is Naomie Harris, who I don't think I've ever seen before. She gives a confident, assured performance as a witch-doctor type person and she hits all the right notes.

By far the worst part about the movie is that it doesn't ever end. It ends with some sort of "to be continued..." bullshit that had me pissed as I walked out. I mean, really. I sat through 150 minutes of mindless nonsense just for you to beg me to come back for more? If this is supposed to be some sort of extended nonsensical trailer for the in-production Pirates of the Caribbean: Part Trés you can bet your ass I'm not going to pay to see it.

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