Gore Verbinski’s ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest’ (2006)

08Jan07

Oh my god, Hollywood. Do I have to do everything around here? What’s with the flabby storytelling? Especially on a film like PotC which is intended to be some thoughtless, fast-paced entertainment. Instead, the movie’s aimless and, frankly, boring initial 30 minutes or so causes the piece to clock in at an overly long two hours and thirty minutes.

As pretty as Orlando Bloom is and as engaging as Keira Knightly can be, everyone watched this sequel for Johnny Depp and his truly unique interpretation of Capt. Jack Sparrow. Depp plays a pirate like no other actor has played a pirate. I do understand the impulse to intercut between Will/Elizabeth and Jack at the beginning of the film to appease the audience’s appetite for Jack. But if I had assumed that the audience would be less engaged with the Will/Elizabeth storyline, I would have used the audience’s anticipation to see Jack to hold their interest while I QUICKLY started the Will/Elizabeth storyline and got them on the sea and with Jack again.

I do like the jumpcuts at the start of the film, but the beginning is plumb confusing. We see the British soldiers rushing to arrest Will and then taking him to Elizabeth who is sitting in the rain seemingly jilted at her wedding. And I mean that wedding was cleared out with nary a guest or wedding party member in sight, which would have taken at least a couple of hours to accomplish. Why would the soldiers hold Will that long if they intend to arrest Elizabeth as well? It appears that Will intended to stand up Elizabeth even if he hadn’t been arrested. I think it would have been more clear if Will had been arrested near the altar, waiting for Elizabeth to come down the aisle, and she had been arrested getting ready for the wedding. Lay in some dramatic score, use some slow motion, drop in a voiceover of two soldiers reading the arrest warrants to Will and Elizabeth with some intercutting, and throw the two of them in jail. Bada bing. I just whittled down ten minutes of film into two.

Next I would relocate that scene between Will and Lord Beckett to a jail cell. Will never seems that concerned with the fact that he and Elizabeth have been sentenced to death, even though that fact is supposed to be a motivating factor for his pursuing Jack. Um, maybe he doesn’t seem that urgent because we never see him in a jail cell and Beckett “interrogates” him in his pretty, pretty office? So we do that scene in jail, Will says goodbye to Elizabeth, and then we move into that lovely montage of Will looking for Jack and being slapped around by hookers, until we catch up with Jack as chief. Yep. That’s right. I say we cut out all of that stuff with Jack prior to that point and have his big reveal be as the painted chief of the native tribe. I don’t think we need any of those scenes with Jack obtaining the drawing of the key, being visited by Bootstrap Bill, etc. The narrative is tighter and more compelling if we allow those revelations to occur in due time instead of revealing everything up front.

Will/The Crew and Jack’s escape from the natives also could be edited a bit, particularly removing Jack’s fruit fight with the two native women. It isn’t that funny and it doesn’t make much sense, considering that the fight ends when Jack yells, “Stop!” What obedient attackers they are, no?

Those complaints said, I think that the latter piece of the movie is fantastic, engaging, and well-paced. I just wish that the front end of the film could be as interesting. The special effects are amazing, and the fight sequences are well-choreographed. The backstretch of the film fully delivers on what the preceding movie did so well. I do look forward to the third film, though now with some measured skepticism. Hopefully, Verbinski will use a more critical eye when cutting the next movie.

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