Friday, 6 December 2013

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)





















'Fifteen men on the Dead Man's Chest Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! Drink and the devil had done for the rest Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!'

Who'd of thought a movie based on a theme park and pirates would be so successful that it would garner a sequel. A sequel that was so so so utterly huge in production values it makes perfect sense that it would fail to live up to its predecessor. The old lesson Hollywood never learns, making things bigger and flashier doesn't always mean it will be better.

The plot? oh geez where to begin. This is the main issue with this franchise which begun in this sequel, only to get worse in the third film. The story becomes so convoluted and twisty its hard to keep up, and this is a Disney film! Put very simply...most of the characters are all after various bit n pieces including Davy Jones heart, Sparrow's compass and the Black Pearl. Each character has their own reason for needing each item and most of these reasons intertwine with each other at some point, oh and old characters come back into the fray.

The plot is the first film was pretty straight forward, I'm not saying simple is best but it was easy to swallow. This film kicks off relatively well with the characters we know in trouble for helping Sparrow, a deal is set, a plan underway and everybody knows who is doing what and why. The trouble is as the film progresses sub plots pop up, new characters enter with their own story arcs, old characters come back with more story arcs, plans change and double crossing ensues. I can't deny it becomes tricky but in the end it is decipherable and when you think about it its quite good.

So once you've got your head around the plot you do tend to notice how BIG everything has become. The prison Sparrow escapes from at the start looks very similar to some kind of fortress you'd expect to see in a Tolkien story. The entire early cannibal infested island part of the film really does show how the franchise took a swing for the worst. Sparrow, Norrington and Turner break out into a three way fight over Jones chest which lasts for at least 10-15 minutes, displays way way too much slapstick, completely unbelievable cartoon stunts that detach you from the film and the trio end up covering half the island whilst battling! In short the whole sequence wasn't needed, it was completely overblown and merely flashy filler, it bared no importance to the plot whatsoever...and this is what you will come to expect from the franchise thereafter.

Now of course we know this franchise is a comedy of sorts, a period set comedy action thriller for everyone to enjoy. The first film had a nice balance of that plus some supernatural fantasy that really worked well. This sequel added that horrendous cartoonish hijinx that totally tore you away from any suspension of disbelief because it went beyond that into a pure hokey farce.

On top of the ludicrous tomfoolery now on show this film has easily had much more creative influence from the classic videogame The Secret of Monkey Island. If you know the game its quite plain to see really, the cannibal island at the start, the murky, misty, swampy location where the team meet voodoo priestess Tia Dalma and of course that character in her entirety, plus the similarity Jones has to LeChuck in terms of evil behaviour, the supernatural and looks.

It is a shame because the film is a good fantasy with some gorgeous visuals both CGI and real time. Davy Jones and his crew are incredible, a real sight to behold, especially Jones squid-like face of course. Its amazing to actually see CGI that looks so good you think its a real makeup job. The other crew members are also so vividly imaginative and well crafted, every scene with these fishy dogs was really great fun, I was always looking out for different types of mutants in the background. I really liked their vessel the Dutchman and the war torn barnacle covered ghost ship appearance it was given (much like the Pearl and its ghostly shrouds of mist n fog), and of course the Kraken was a fun nautical myth to include if somewhat unoriginal and not too good on the CGI front.

Its still a fun film which is saved by the British actors and their astoundingly fun well spoken pomposity, that and the excellent effects on Jones and his (undead?) crew. The finale for Sparrow is an exciting cliffhanger even though you know he will be back, its interesting to see a group of heroes bickering and double crossing each other instead of simply fighting together as one unbeatable team and that supernatural spice is just right. The plot difficulties do mire proceedings but Verbinski just about pulls it off and manages to provide decent escapism.

6/10