Thoughts on Pirates of the Carribean 2

Anyone who complains about spoilers here can walk the plank as far as I’m concerned.

If you don’t want spoilers, don’t read this till afterwards.

Okay. Did I like it? Yes. Did it have problems?

YES!

Now I like to sit back and enjoy a movie, BUT that doesn’t mean I turn my brain off completely. Consistency is important to me.

Of course, TOO MUCH consistency can be a pain as well.

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Flaw 1) “Hey we did that last movie, wouldn’t it be cute if we did it again?”

When it’s done right, you get Indiana Jones reaching for his gun to shoot the two swordsmen (like he did against the 1 in the previous movie) only to find out it’s not there.

When it’s done badly, you get “cute” repeats of lines you enjoyed the first time so forced that you can’t help but feel hammer used to slam it into the script. The “Dog with the keys” bit was used not once, but THREE times. Once as a joke reference (Governor: “Where is that dog with the keys”) once as misdirected humour (prisoners whistling you think to the dog but it’s really at Swan) and once where you actually HAVE the dog WITH the keys in his mouth and never ever lets go of them.

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Now, that aside let’s talk about the movie itself. Now, see, I KNEW that the sequel for Pirates of the Caribbean was ready-made, and the day after I saw it, I laid out my theory of what it would be:

1) Davy Jones would be the villain
2) Bootstrap Bill (William’s father) would be in it, working for him
3) the two bumbling pirates would be back

For the first time in sequel-premonition history, I scored 100%! WOO! (does victory dance)

Unfortunately, one prediction that I generally make for any sequel also came true…

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Flaw 2) More-itis

Naturally when you make a sequel you are compelled to try and exceed the expectations laid down by the first one. At least, that’s the prevailing theory in Hollywood.

In case you didn’t realize, Hollywood is full of frickin morons.

These simple minded buffoons believe that More = Better, and that’s all there is to it. Might I lay the most brain-hurting example in recent memory:

The Mummy and The Mummy Returns: Hey, you had one undead villain before, NOW WE HAVE TWO! Before he was a face of sand, NOW HE’S MADE OF WATER! They flew in a biplane before, NOW IT’S A ROCKET POWERED BALLOON! They fought a bunch of mummies before, NOW IT’S A WAR ON AN EPIC SCALE!

More-itis is when creators believe that they need essentially the same story, but all the “cool” points need to be enhanced to the power of two. This isn’t addition or multiplication we’re talking about, but exponential.

It gets old quick.

Now fortunately Pirates of the Caribbean 2 does NOT suffer from More-itis as badly as it could have… but I had such high hopes for this movie that I was disappointed to see More-itis at all. And it happens enough that you feel that other parts of the world were pushed aside to make room for it. You can’t help but imagine people around a table saying “You know, those undead skeletons in the first movie was cool, how can we top it? I know, let’s have them all sea creature mutants! Each one more weird and deformed than the last!”

The other problem with More-itis is that it also fills up the SCREEN as well. Sensory Overload is an increasing problem in Special Effect movies in recent years. Look at Star Wars Episode III. Aside from any other complaints you might have that opening battle over Courscant was so overwhelming you JUST COULDN’T ENJOY IT! Your eyes can only process so much information, and that battle had about a dozen things happening in each and every shot.

In this movie, the battles with the Kraken quickly took on this feel. Hell most of the regular battles did too… so much slimy sea-human body parts flying around you don’t know what’s attached to what.

An even worse offender is Captain Jack’s Great Escape from the Cannibals. We all loved Captain Jack’s miraculous escape from Norrington’s guards at the beginning of the first movie. But you know what made it work?

NO CGI! It was all traditional stunt work done in prime fashion. You know it couldn’t happen in real life, but you can suspend you’re disbelief and buy it.

Not so here… So many parts of the Great Escape are clearly CGI that you can no longer buy the idea it’s actually happening (the pole vault with the bamboo strapped to his back and the fall thereafter comes to mind).

HOLLYWOOD! GET A SIMPLE FRICKIN MESSAGE THROUGH YOUR HEAD! SOMETIMES LESS IS MORE! UNDERSTOOD?

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But like I said, I enjoyed the movie. Really I did! I loved the character from the first movie so much they could have come out and played poker for 2 hours and I still would have enjoyed it. BUT knowing the characters this well is not without their drawbacks…

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Flaw 3) Good Guys Don’t Kill Good Guys

At one point in the movie you have Captain Jack, Norrington, and Will Turner fighting one another for the key to Davy Jones’ locker. It is, in fact, the big climatic sword battle of the movie.

Only it doesn’t quite work for me, because you KNOW nobody is going to get hurt. You know Captain Jack and Will Turner are good guys (well, more or less) and as a result will NOT kill another good guy. Norrington is the only “maybe he’d go bad” character, but since his opponents are Jack and Will, again there no real danger.

Jack and Will’s first duel in the first movie was exciting. In part because you didn’t know these characters or where this might be going. Maybe one of them really would get hurt? Not likely but you didn’t KNOW one way or the other. Also, you’re willing to go along with that if it’s a non-climax battle. But this happening at the climax you’re thinking “What’s the point? Nobody is going to DIE in this battle!” I couldn’t help but be aware of this throughout the battle, and it makes it drag.

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Well, there is only so much I can go on about this. I could go on about the parts I did like, and there were a number of them… but you can see it for yourself to see those. Instead I finish my tirade with

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Flaw 4) TO BE CONTINUED

You know, this is pretty standard. Empire Strikes Back did it, Lord of the Rings did it (well, you couldn’t avoid that, really), The Matrix did it. You make #2 in such a way that you absolutely MUST have #3. There’s only one problem here. This was the WRONG movie to use this technique on! All those other movies have some kind of grand story arc involved that intends to climax with the downfall of the Evil (whatever) and good to triumph.

How the hell does that apply here? Captain Jack is going to destroy the East India Trading Company? Yeah, Davy Jones is going to croak, but so what? It’s the wrong technique for the wrong storyline. Is Davy Jones going to destroy the world? If so it’s news to me! Had I had a bit of warning maybe it wouldn’t have bugged me as much, but as we got on the 2 hour mark I was wondering where climactic battle with Davy Jones would be, only it didn’t happen! It wasn’t till it was clear the Black Pearl was going to sink that I felt the beginnings of To Be Continued creeping up.

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Ah, screw it, there’s one more and I have to complain about it because too many movies do this!

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Flaw 5) Obey Your Own Goddamn Rules!!!

Even silly movies need to be true to itself, if not reality.  Fantasy is not a carte-blanche licence to do change the rules whenever you please.  You suspend disbelieve by making those rules and following them.  If you break them, you MUST have a good reason to do so.

Okay, look, it’s not that hard to follow. The cursed Aztec gold made everyone who took it into cursed undead, right? The only way to undo the curse for everyone is for everyone to put the gold back. EVERYONE. Otherwise it doesn’t work, right?

So why is the monkey still undead? If he’s undead, why are the Bumbling Pirate Duo alive? Did the monkey swim to the island and take a fresh coin after the curse was broken? And of course (BIGGEST SPOILER YET YOU’VE BEEN WARNED) it doesn’t even begin to explain why Captain Barrbosa is still alive? He died. We saw him die… dead center shot to the chest. Sorry, that’s fatal. Did he somehow crawl over to the chest after the fact when nobody was looking?

Oh wait, I know! The curse is broken… the monkey swims to the island and takes a coin, thus restarting a fresh curse. Then he goes over and puts a fresh coin in Barrbosa dead hand (sure, it’ll work with dead people, why not?) thus making him undead and healing his wounds (er… sure). So I guess Barrbosa is also undead, too, because if the monkey is undead the new curse can’t be broken (unless they both put the coins away, breaking the curse and then the monkey took a coin AGAIN to restart a third curse just for himself! Stupid damn monkey)

By the way if I’m right I’m going to beat myself over the head with a shovel, because it’s weak.

But I still liked it. Honest!

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