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NEW REVIEW: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"

NEW REVIEW: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"

by Wayne Francis
Jacksonville, Florida


Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Man's Chest isn't so much a movie as it is a collection of cheesy swashbuckling action scenes. The film is like the boat ride at Disneyland; the music and atmosphere is good fun, but there isn't enough connection between the segments to constitute a meaningful narrative. The ride works best this way, but for a full-length feature film, I expect drama.

On the upside, Pirates is chock full of great special effects, and in many cases, good CGI can rescue a weak screenplay (Constantine, King Kong), but this movie's flaws are so blatant that by the time a good effects shot occurs, it's difficult to care about the characters or their motives to follow the action with any emotional investment.

Additionally, the action scenes are painfully redundant; in one scene, characters try to escape from the inside of a ball by rolling it down hills while inside. Later, a different set of characters fight atop a wheel, and it rolls and rolls, and goes down hills too. There is a faceless sea creature that evil pirates loose on unsuspecting ships, and the shots of giant tentacles are magnificent, but by the third time we see a ship get sucked underneath by the same creature, the sequences have lost their mystique, and it's obvious that the effects shots are just fillers for empty storyline, and not supplements to enhance a gripping narrative.

The film would seem to derive its inspiration from Saturday morning cartoon shows that deliver great visiuals, but with cliched dialogue that usually restates what is already obvious. In some of the film's more excruciating scenes, a character loosely based on a Miss Cleo psychic makes attempts to sound like a sexy, mysterious Jamaican, and what results is easily the worst Caribbean word pronunciations attempted in movie history. I winced as she butchered what is ordinarily a pleasant-sounding Jamaican accent.

As for Johnny Depp's character, Jack Sparrow, he doesn't really exist as a character so much as a representation of one. The first half of the movie, random people make random statements about "Jack Sparrow" and it leads nowhere except to force us to recognize that, in this universe, everyone knows "Jack Sparrow" and that means he's important. Instead of actually showing us Jack Sparrow doing things that earn him the title of infamous pirate, we're slugged over the head with narration to accept that he's significant.

Depp is wonderful when given the chance to perform, but this movie doesn't create the suspense necessary to require Sparrow's quirky, comedic relief.

Another problem that needs little explication: the film contains too many villains. There is "Davy Jones" and then the "Kraken" sea creature, and then a British General who arrests Will Turner and his fiancé, and all of these villains want different things, and pursue their objectives independently, and none of them are particularly interesting, or worthy of any emotional reaction.

What a complete disaster of film. I wanted to enjoy it, and for a summer popcorn fantasy blockbuster, I'm can forgive a movie that makes up for in visuals what it lacks in story or drama or suspense. Not here. 'Pirates' is probably the emptiest, dullest film of the summer, and this is quite a feat considering the talented cast and enormous budget.

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