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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Pirates of The Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest

I walked in the cinema yesterday, initially planning to see My Super Ex-Girlfriend since it's the newest release (premiering in both Australia and US at the same time), and also because it's the kind of film no one else would bother going with me. But I ended up seeing Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest (which was the kind of film someone would bother going with me) because I thought, well, since I'm in Australia, and tickets are more expensive, I might as well get something that's worth the price. (more explosions, more special effects etc.)

So, is Pirates of the Caribbean 2 a great film? it's... all right.

When Pirates of the Caribbean was being made, the character of Captain Jack Sparrow was meant to be nothing more than a dashing and cocky hunky pirate (thus it was why they got Johnny Depp to be in it), but his interpretation of it was so bizarre that the character became the film, and the film became all about Jack Sparrow despite the fact that Orlando Bloom's Will Turner was supposed to be the generic 'hero' character. Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner hated it, saying that Depp's performance was ruining the film, well, not long after that, Depp was nominated for an Oscar for his performance. Deservingly.

Film would've also been considered a breakout hit for Keira Knightley too, who, prior to the film, was remembered only as the 'skinny chick from Bend It Like Beckham', or 'Natalie Portman's double in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace'.

After making a surprise 300 million dollars in the US domestic box-office (and 600+ worldwide), expectations of this film were lofty, it was expected to be the biggest film of the year, like The Da Vinci Code (review here) and Superman Returns. While the latter two are somewhat disappointing either commercially (The Da Vinci Code has made 210 million so far, only the FOURTH top-grossing film of the year, Superman Returns has only made 170+ million so far) or critically. Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest was quite simply monstrous, breaking Spider-man 1's three-day box-office record by making 132 million in its first weekend, and currently, it has already made 280 million in the US, making it the top movie of the year in less than three weeks of its release. Number 2 and 3 are X-Men 3 and Cars (review here), respectively.

This is the film that will entertain anyone, and because it IS entertaining, and does not take itself as seriously as Superman Returns (which, despite my generally positive review, is not a film I would bother to see twice) did, people flocked in droves to see it. Besides, your typical teenager would've considered Captain Jack Sparrow much cooler than some has-been superhero who wears a red spandex outside his costume, yes?

Even so, despite being somewhat family-friendly PoTC 2 is really very much the 'Empire Strikes Back' of this planned trilogy, being darker in tone, and having a cliffhanger ending. And I'm not being a geeky Star Wars fanboy (which I'm not) by needlessly tossing in a SW reference into a film review as there are many elements in this film that brings to mind 'Empire Strikes Back', like a goody-two-shoe character (Will Turner) becoming slightly less goody-two-shoe (although, from an amusing interview I read in Empire magazine, Orlando Bloom assured everyone that the transformation will not be drastic like Hayden Christensen turning into Darth Vader and killing everyone... did Orlando Bloom just dissed Hayden Christensen? Whoa, Orlando is DA MAN!), a once-villain becoming possibly-not a villain, but could still be a villain like Lando, then a new love triangle is introduced as well, but hopefully, it won't degenerate into the 'someone is actually someone's sister' plot twist.

Anyway, here are the things that I enjoyed in the film:

- 3-way swordfight.
- Kraken destroying things. Ba boom!
- Davy Jones' appearance. Cool effects. Makes Superman Returns look like a video game.
- Tortuga brawl.
- Commodore James Norrington's change.
- Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) actually gets to fight.
- Someone tying someone up to face the Kraken.
- Will Turner's relationship with Bootstrap Bill makes Will more interesting.
- Yes, Jack Sparrow
- The appearance of an unexpected old... friend in the last shot. YES!

Things that didn't work for me:

- The pacing. The first half of the film was rather meandering and slow. Although things did pick up after that.
- Cliffhanger ending... NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! (okay, it worked for me, but it's frustrating!)

So yes, it's an enjoyable film. Unlike most film students, I believe more in the balance between art and commercial, enjoying a Hollywood blockbuster just as much as I enjoy an arthouse fare most of the time, not as great as I've hoped, but still more than enough to make me salivate for part 3! And Chow Yun Fat's gonna be in Part 3! Finally, he has a HOLLYWOOD HIT!

Miu Miu.