' Cinema Romantico: Pirates of the Caribbean 2: The Curse of the Sequel

Monday, July 10, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean 2: The Curse of the Sequel

Have you heard the adage that sometimes a filmmaker does not recognize what his best about his or her own movie? It's not necessarily that the filmmakers for "Pirates of the Caribbean 2" don't realize what's best about their movie but that they're unwilling or afraid to use it as much as they should.

"Pirates of the Caribbean 2" is a unique situation in cinema history. Johnny Depp's peformance in the first film as Captain Jack Sparrow was to the eye of this particular beholder far, far, far and away the finest peformance by any actor (male or female) thus far of the new millenium. And how often does an actor get to reprise a role of such immense proportions? And let the record show that Captain Jack Sparrow is most definitely back - the facial expressions, the reaction shots, the double-takes, the walking that isn't so much walking as a wonderous combination of mincing, prancing and wobbling. One can only assume it will be stated that Depp is not as good as he was in the first movie. Well, of course he isn't. How could he be? Nothing like his performance in the first movie had ever existed or even been attempted. Ever. It was an invigorating breath of fresh air.

This time around Captain Jack Sparrow is being tracked by Davy Jones, therefore Captain Jack must locate the key that opens the chest that contains Davy Jones' heart in order to keep his life. Meanwhile our other heroes from the first movie, Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), are set to be married only to have the marriage postponed due to the fact they are both threatened with execution due to their helping Jack Sparrow escape in the previous movie. To stave off execution they must also track down the key to the chest at the request of an evil English Lord.

Depp aside, the first "Pirates" movie was bloated but at least it rooted itself in the spirit of buccaneer B-movies from the 3o's and 40's. The new one seems more rooted in the spirit of special-effects laden summer blockbusters. Which is to say it falls prey to another one of those film adages - sequels must be more, more, more. The action sequences this time around are more concerned with trying to be eye-popping than rousing. Midway through Jack Sparrow and his crew visit a tavern in the pirate port town of Tortuga and only here does the movie re-gain the energy of the first one. A fight breaks out. And this leads to another fight. And soon the entire bar is in a fight. And as it goes the fiddlers squabble away in the background. And amidst all of this Jack Sparrow sashays about in time to the music avoiding everyone and everything. This is creative and exciting, much more so than a gigantic computer-generated octopus rising from the depths to........zzzzzzzzzz.........whoops! Fell asleep for a second! My apologies.

Look, this movie should have belonged to Johnny Depp. It was Depp that caused the first one to rake in millions of dollars worldwide. It was Depp who got not one but two sequels to be greenlit. In that regard, the writing lets him down. The first time around he was given good lines that he was able to elevate to great. But here he gets dozens of weak lines which he elevates to tolerable. Again, only once does the writing rise to the heights of the performance. Elizabeth, who through a series of events, has wound up onboard Jack Sparrow's ship, finds herself in a bit of verbal ping-pong with the Captain. Keira Knightley has certainly progressed as an actress since the first movie and it shows. She seems to light more of a fire under Depp when they share the screen. Not just in the mentioned scene but also look for the smile Depp gives her near the end (you'll know it when you see it). But they can only do so much with what they've been given. Mr. Depp brought his A-game but the writers and director did not do likewise. They seem more concerned with the giant octopus and making sure the characters with lobster claws for hands look way cool.

The best effect in the movie has nothing to do with CGI. The best effect in the movie is the simple act of Johnny Depp walking. I just hope the filmmakers remember that for the third installment.

4 comments:

tob said...

So often, Cinema Romantico and myself disagree on so many films. Our disagreements have been epic. Yet, on this matter, we can agree. Please, please, please, don't see this movie unless you are expecting to be pretty bored for 2 and 1/2 hours. Then you will be excited when it's not completely boring. I really hope somebody contacts the writers and tells them that nobody cares about anyone except Johnny Depp. Orlando "Made of Wood" Bloom and Kiera "Tobias f. Just Misspelled my Name" Knightly are TERRIBLE. The wacky bad guys from the first movie are tolerable at best. And the new bad guy? Jesus wept and ate a burrito, he's so horribly boring that I tried to change the channell. The only good part of the movie is when the alien saves Jack. Oh wait. I should have said "spoiler alert." Oh well, it's totally telegraphed. I mean, who else could that path of Reese's Pieces have been for?

Tobius F. said...

Um... that's supposed to be from "Tobias F." not tob.

My bad, yo.

Miss B said...

I'll say that I'm with you on all of this...and I found the plot convoluted at best. There were many moments when I was totally lost. And then the cliffhanger ending was totally infuriating, because it was all a setup for them to wring a few more dollars out of us next summer. Did anyone else notice that this movie literally had no conclusion???

Miss B said...

But...God...I love Johnny Depp. We rented "Cry Baby" this weekend (his first big role) and it was bizarre campy fun which we watched, admitedly, a bit drunk on champagne. He's so charismatic and kooky. How can we not love him?