Friday, 29 July 2016

Why to Watch? Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

At first look, it appears like an entirely decent arrangement. Though, 2 and half hours of energetic swashbuckling, with an all-star three-way battle of the cheekbones (Orlando Bloom versus Keira Knightley versus Johnny Depp) and some extra slimy computer generated symbolism tossed in at no additional cost.

But there is a catch, as there typically is. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” is not only a movie. It’s a glistening, sushi-grade chunk of franchise entertainment, which implies that maximal enjoyment of it comes with certain obligations.

Butchery Verbinski, the director, has an appropriate sense of mischief, as well as a blessing, almost breaking even with those of Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg, for integrating CGI seamlessly into his cinematic compositions. What is curious about the recent crop of cutting edge blockbusters is the way truly they take themselves, and unlike, say, “Superman Returns”, “Dead Man’s Chest” can't’ be called pretentious. It makes no claims to being about good and evil, the trouble of saving the world in the modern era, or the inner lives of any of its characters.

Instead, it sends Elizabeth Swann (Ms. Knightley) and Will Turner (Mr. Bloom), their wedding day ruined in an opening sequence that seems to pay tribute to the old Guns N’ Roses “November Rain” video, on a search for the pirate captain Jack Sparrow (Mr. Depp). Jack, of course, ends up in a wide range of trouble, pursued not only by agents of the British crown but also by an undead, squid-faced mariner, the famous Davy Jones, who commands a ghoulish crew of half-human, half-aquatic creatures. These sailors resemble the cast of “Sponge Bob Square Pants” – or the menu at a seafood restaurant – come to life: Night of the Living Bouillabaisse.

One of them, played by Stellan Skarsgard with a starfish embedded in his face, is Will’s long-lost father, a development that adds a coagulated morsel of father-son pathos to the stew of plots and subplots cooked up by the screenwriters, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. Davy Jones himself, meanwhile, talks in the sinister whisper of Bill Nighy, however, it is his swaying mass of facial tentacles that most viewers will remember.

And there are other significant bits and pieces, visual highlights of a movie with no particular interest in coherence, economy or feeling. Ms. Knightley is, at the end of the day, a vision of imperial British pluckiness, with an intriguing dash of romantic recklessness that surfaces toward the end. Mr. Bloom, just like his custom, leaps about, attempting to beat his incurable blandness, and is upstaged by special effects, musical cues, octopus tentacles and pieces of wood. Naomie Harris turns up for a couple of scenes of hammy voodoo, and Mackenzie Crook and David Bailie contribute some proletarian slapstick. Most of the other members of the first movie’s cast show up once more, some of the time in surprising circumstances.

The franchise, of course, belongs to Jack Sparrow, and to Mr. Depp. Since this is a spin-off, the part is no more the stunning amazement it was in 2003, when “The Curse of the Black Pearl” charmed audiences and disarmed critics on its way to the third- best domestic box-office gross of the year. But, the best parts of “Dead Man’s Chest” confirm Jack Sparrow as the most viable Disney cartoon character in quite some time, however, his anarchic insouciance has more in common with the work of Chuck Jones or Tex Avery. Mr. Verbinski, as far as concerns him, gets a handle on the connection between today’s computer-assisted filmmaking and the hand-drawn animation of old, which lies in the freedom to revise the laws of physics at will. Two sequences, in particular, stand out, and would alone nicely as shorts: I will always think them as “Fruit Kebab” and “Runaway Hamster Wheel”.

But, the easy joy that such flights of visual fancy inspire is crowded and blocked by the various stuff going ahead in this long, ungainly movie, which for all its occupied with, buzzing parts, is unequipped for standing on its own. It batters you with novelty and works so hard to top itself that depletion sets in much sooner than the second hour is over.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). It has some violent action scenes and few moments of gruesome creepy-crawly movie horror.

Written by Sukanya Roy
Artist, Critic, Writer, Photographer, Movie buff, Graphic Designer, Literature and Geography enthusiast, Soccer fan, and Imaginative.

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