Friday, July 07, 2006

Vaudville of the Carribean: Dead Man's Review

1. It's too long. There are points when you will find yourself looking at your watch, thinking "Fine, sea monster, I get it. Let's move on, shall we?"

2. They over-plotted it. I know I know. It's a bit like the emperor of Austria telling Wolfgang, "too many notes." But let's face, Jonny Depp, adept as he is, is no Mozart. I appreciate that the writers wanted to avoid the cliched (and usually justified) criticism that the sequel had no plot, that it was just a marketing gimmick (I give you Home Alone parts II thru 47). But in this case, they over-corrected. The plot was overworked and tedious. In an effort to avoid creating a movie of mind-numbing simplicity they created a movie of mind-numbing bewilderment. It wasn't beyond following, it just required more effort than I was willing to give to a high-budget, heavily marketed summer blockbuster.

3. There is a distinct paucity of bare, male flesh.

Good. That's out of the way. Now on to the fun bits:

My god that flick was hilarious. Think 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea meets Mel Brooks, Jackie Chan, Indiana Jones, the Keystone Cops, Star Wars, Lucile Ball, and the Bible.

Like Jackie Chan, PoftC doffs its cap to the old classics, especially westerns. The saloon brawl had every single obligatory element (guy swining from chandelier, guy being thrown out the front door, guy ducking while bottle breaks on object behind his head, two friends almost punching one another, an escape scene up a staircase, etc.), but with a wacky, almost spoofy Mel Brooks camp to it. Never once does this movie take itself seriously. You could almost call it a spoof of the first one, but the first one was almost a spoof of itself, so there you go.

And that's the theme throughout the whole movie: classic comedic archetypes drawn from decades of popular culture, executed with expert timing (if Jonny Depp does one thing right, it's his flawless timing). But don't think this is just a 2 1/2 hour string of re-hashed, old jokes. They're nearly all recognizable, but they're also done with a fresh and original twist. (Example: you know the famous Indiana Jones outrunning the giant, spherical stone boulder thing, a version of which now appears in every major action film? It's in this one too, but this time the hero is inside the boulder. Comedy.)

The director also took one of my favorite elements of the last film and magnified its presence a bit in this one: namely, the commentary on the film by the characters while the film is in progress. JD does this in the first flick when he's in the prison cell and is explaining to Will Turner exactly how a priate movie is supposed to play out. This time we not only have JD making meta-jokes ("Why is the rum always empty?"), but an embittered character from the last flick turns up and becomes the voice of the audience, interjecting real-world pragmatism into fantasy scenarios, refusing to suspend disbelief even while he's in the storyline. It's fabulous.

There's an old wisdom among writers: you can't say anything truly new; it's all been said. All you can do is tell an old story in a new way. PoftC acknowleges this and does reverance to the decades of archetypes, comedic icons, and punchlines from which it draws its gags by giving them an original spin and bringing them to life for a new generation of movie-goers. I give it 3 1/2 smelly sneakers (out of 5).


hendrix said...

never mind the story - does he look as good as he did in the first one?

Chaucer's Bitch said...

see,that's what i'm talking about. no one goes to these things for the plot anyway. yes, he looked just as, erm, "good."

i might also add that our boy orlando is growing up nicely. i do wish they hadn't shot this installment in rep with part 3. a couple more years to give bloom a chance to finish puberty would be a great improvement.

oh, and one more thing: kiera knightly gets promoted from Chich Who Gets In The Way to Chick Who Screams A Lot But Manages To Do A Few Things That Resembel Good Ideas. By the next flick she might even be a real character, and wouldn't that be nice?

No Shit Sherlock said...

Don't get your hopes up... I need to see that, but I was working when my family went so I need to rally some support to go with peoples.

hendrix said...

even better - she might be a real character who gets killed in a particularly gruesome and extremely painful way. If we're really lucky it will be in the first scene.

Billy said...

Hendrix, have you seen the Descent. KK manages to vomit herself to death in that one.

Kieran said...

Cracking reviwew. I'm off to see it.

hendrix said...

No, but I'll watch it now.

Billy said...

Did I say The Descent? Obviously I meant The Hole.


The Hopeless Romantic said...

1. It's too long. There are points when you will find yourself looking at your watch, thinking "Fine, sea monster, I get it. Let's move on, shall we?"

I think your first point sums up the film perfectly for me.

I judge a film by how numb my bum becomes - and in this instance it was far too numb - with plenty of shuffling and mumbles of "get to the sodding point" and "they 'aint half dragging this out in order to make two films".

Sorry, but this was no where near as good as the first one. They tried too hard and failed. Still, on the flip side of things, Keira Knightley was once again a nice distraction!

Tim Footman said...

Bill snort Nighy.

The man's a fucking God.

ZB said...

KK - Can't act. Won't act.

Second one not as good as the first by some considerable distance but still watchable. Sooner or later Hollywood will realise that rehashing old story archetypes is now becoming...