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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

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First movie I've seen in a theatre this year. I enjoyed the first Pirates movie a lot. I'd heard that this one was just one madcap escape after another. And Bruce told me that the special effects were way overused. Well done, but enough onscreen time to the point that they got in the way. And I concur with both of those assessments.

Wow, I'm having trouble remembering the beginning of this movie, and it's only been a week and a half. I guess Our Heroes have become separated. Orlando and Kiera (yumyum) are in the midst of their marraige ceremony. They're interrupted by the new commodore (I think it is.)

Funny. I can't remember how Orlando escapes. I can remember Keira's escape, with the help of her father. And she ends up making a deal with the commodore to go after Jack to get his magic compass in exchange for a pardon for Orlando. But Orlando's escape eludes me completely.

Early on they introduce the kraken, a mythical giant squid. Unfortunately, they wrote in an inconsistency within the movie. In the first attack, the entire encounter is over in just a few seconds. In two later attacks, they last quite a long time. Partly, the last encounter is a plot device to give Our Heroes enough time to drive it off. Which feels a bit contrived.

But I think the main reason for the extended encounter is to show off the special effects. I have to admit, they do look remarkably lifelike. Both in the way the kraken moves, and in the way it reacts to the other objects in the scene. It really is amazing.

But it's also a case of over-using the effect. It feels like either the director is using the special effects as a crutch to add time to the movie. Or, the producers are so enamored with the concept that they overrode the director and insisted that he put more into the movie.

They go even more overboard with the character effects. The first movie had a great device in that you only saw the effects when the characters were in moonlight. Therefore, they had a built-in excuse to only use the effect in short spurts.

In this movie, the Flying Dutchman's crew gets a lot of screen time. Especially the captain. And they try to throw in so many little quirks and fidgets that they really do get in the way of the flow of the story.

Similarly, I agree with the reports of the overabundance of escape scenes. Some were kind of clever. They had a three-way sword fight over a prize that was inside a fifteen-foot water wheel that had broken loose and was rolling across the landscape. The dynamics of that fight sequence were really very interesting.

But there were a couple of other chases leading up to it, and more fighting afterwards. There really wasn't much room left for any story. They managed to sneak in a little bit of character interaction here and there. But those ended up being very teeny bits of the movie.

On my brother's Total Movie Value Scale, Pay Per View with Popcorn and Drinks. Kinda fun.  Not horrible, but clearly just a setup for the next film.

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Last modified: August 18, 2006
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