Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Again I'm wondering where I stand in relation to the masses. Box office phenom that it is, there's a discrepancy of thought in regards whether Pirates 2 is any good. My god, man, good? It's fantastic!

I loved the first film, Curse of the Black Pearl. It was good in a way I never could have anticipated, it's... really good. So my anticipations for Dead Man's Chest may have been a little lofty. The movie is a bit slow to get the ball rolling, but once it does (literally), the damn thing snowballs like a man possessed.

I usually judge sequels on their ability to stand alone. Are they good enough to let the viewer assimilate what has gone before? Pirates 2 does not have this, it relies heavily on the first film both in story, introduction of characters, and the relationships therin. But somehow it all works, while at the same time introducing huge new plotlines that could have been two movies on their own.

It's amazing how Johnny Depp can play a character like he doesn't care he's playing a character and still come across so genuine. He can really hold his own even though he's pitted against powerful antagonists who devour the screen. Bill Nigh as Davy Jones is awesome, the whole movie could have been just him and Depp going at it. The other characters are what they are, nothing terribly prestigious, but they also play through every situation that's thrown at them.

I did wonder how Pirates 2 could match the first in terms of pirate coolness, I mean how do you top the undead skeleton crew from Curse of the Black Pearl? Well, throw in another cursed crew of Davy Jones's Flying Dutchman, where each deckhand is some grotesque amalgam of sea creature and man. I am all over that.

When I left the movie I kind of wondered "Whatever happened to Indiana Jones?" I think the spirit lives on in Pirates of the Caribbean, the action sequences just keep one-upping themselves. Each time you think, "oh, this is the big action finale," some crazy ass shit keeps going on and you think "oh, THIS is the big action finale." Finally you're just thinking, "well that could happen next, but they can't possibly have that happen next..." and then it happens.

The movie also pulls a Back to the Future II at the end... Dead Man's Chest isn't even close to being a stand alone movie but I sure as hell enjoyed it.

Superman Returns

Time to break the silence! I saw Superman Returns last week. I've read all kinds of reviews since and I was struck by how much it was loved by fans almost de facto... Not sharing much of this adoration I sort of sat back and took it in. So is it just me? Then I remembered, it's never just me.

I tend to refrain from using "gay" as an adjective, but Superman Returns? Pretty gay. I'm sure mothers and daughters will love it the world over. There were moments when I saw the visceral impact of what Superman on film should be, but they were quickly derailed by way too much thematic exploration and hack story points meant to force emotion.

My main objection to the film is a little deeper, in that I felt like I was watching a film I'd already seen. This was director Singer's homage, as it were, to the original film with fleeting references to the second. But it's one thing to film an homage, or even a re-imagining, but it's another to use the same lines of dialogue from that which one is honoring. The first instance was cute, by the fifth I'm just a little insulted. The action scenes were cool, but also anemic in their repetition of what had come before.

Superman Returns is good looking, all the money is on screen and Singer paints a pretty picture for his love of all things Reeve and Donner. But if someone gives you 200 million dollars to make a movie, why wouldn't you make it your own?