Friday, July 07, 2006

Pirates of the Carribean II--- Yo Ho Ho....

It is usually the case that the second part of a trilogy is less satisfactory or satisfying than either the first, which sucks you in, or the final one which resolves the loose ends and tidies up the plot. Clearly enough, 'Dead Man's Chest' the second of the Depp 'Pirates' sagas falls into this classification, rather like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It is two and a half hours long and it is rather dark to say the least-- featuring the Machiavellian Davy Jones who shows up to tell Jack Sparrow his time is up. There are plenty of ghoulies in this movie like in the first, only more so, and I wouldn't really recommend this movie for children. It is too dark, despite its humor, sight gags, and yet another enjoyable performance by Johnny Depp.

However even Depps swagger, humor, and wonderful facial expressions can not entirely lighten the mood of this movie, which at junctures turns into something of an allegory about how Sparrow has no moral compass, and needs to grow a conscience. There are also some hilarious reflections on life and death by two members of Sparrow's crew, with the one eyed man being something of a philosopher. This is only just a little more surprising than the portrayal of Davy Jones as a maniacal organist.

Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley both reprise their roles admirably and well, but in the end the movie stands or falls with Depp, and we really needed more in depth Depp in this movie than we got. Then too, even for an action film, there was too many totally impossible actions scenes for one to willingly suspend one's disbelief in every case. Something should have been learned from the overkill of this sort of stuff in the King Kong remake. Hopefully there are still some better summer movies than this yet in store, but this one has enough redeeming features to make it worth watching. Part three which has already been filmed (made at the same time as part 2), will hopefully put the fun and swash back in the buckle of this series of films.


Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks for the warning ... Like almost everyone in the world, I'll be going to see this tomorrow, and hope I like a little more than you did

James Gregory said...

I was thoroughly disappointed with this movie. To sum up my post on this same issue, the movie lacked climax and resolution, was quite boring, and too unrealistic for me to suspend my disbelief.

Although you likened it to Indiana Jones, I just don't see how a third installment of the Pirates trilogy can even compare to it, because the Last Crusade was simply amazing, and in my opinion the best in that trilogy. With the way things are going with Pirates currently, I don't know if it will redeem itself as Indiana Jones did with its third installment.

Either it will end up being like the Matrix (the first one is great, the second one is lame, and the third one is mediocre), or it will become one of the best final installments of all time like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where the second installment is all but forgotten.

Ben Witherington said...

Welll let me ask you this Tradfiotionalist. Did Jesus eat with sinners and tax collectors? Did he care enough about them to try and understand how they thought and why they lived as they did? I think the answer to these questions is yes. I don't think you have to enjoy all that you see in such movies, but I do think you need to try and understand why people like these things and watch them. We are part of an evangelistic religion. This means we must be able to understand and relate to the culture as it is. This at least in my case is why I do these things.


Sandalstraps said...

Interesting review, and worth considering before I spend my money on a film exercise principally designed to make money (for exactly the opposite sort of film making, do yourself a favor and see Thank You For Smoking, the funniest movie I've seen in a decade). And, in general you're right about the second movie in a series. Call it a sophomore slump.

However, a couple of movies worth considering as anti-dotes to the axiomatic assertion that the second movie in a series (generally trilogy) is the worst (and notice that they are recent comic-book adaptations):

Spider Man 2 (twice as good as the original)

X Men 2 (perhaps the best comic book adaptation yet)

There may be others, but because of the generally dismal nature of profit-driven sequels, I can't come up with them. A little help, please.

What I noticed about both of these movies is that the first part of the series was mostly exposition, drawing you into the characters and setting the stage for the action sequences. They did aim towards a climax, but they took their sweet time getting there.

The second film did not have to spend so much time setting the stage, and so could simply set up a conflict and then turn the characters' considerable powers toward solving that conflict. And, in general, the less complicated an action movie is, the better.

Ben Witherington said...

Welll some would argue the second Star Trek movie was better than the first. I would say that the Jewel of the Nile does not live up to its predecessor. I agree with you about the Spiderman sequel. Men in Black II was nowhere close to the first one. James Bond movies got better up to a point after the first one.


Ben Witherington said...

Well, frankly unless you are omniscient you don't know why 'nobody' is watching movies when it comes to their motivations. Of course some people do watch them purely for entertainment. And you are right to ask about where is the line to be drawn.

However there is a difference between something which has no redeeming value and something which does. Pornography has none. Should we not read a classic like Pride and Prejudice because it suggests some unChristian things about what it means to be a Christian? I think not.

I also do not agree that Jesus did not take part in the fun of his own day. In fact he did--- unlike John the Baptist he got a reputation for being a friend of sinners, eating at their houses and drinking with them. Perhaps you have forgotten the huge number of gallons of Gallo Jesus created for the wedding party?



James Gregory said...


Your convictions are strong; that much you have made clear. But in this case I would have to say that your convictions should stay your convictions. With this matter I think that you do not have the right to place your own convictions on other people. This is what I believe Paul is referring to in Romans 14. If you think it right regarding this issue not to see movies of this nature, then stick to it; but keep your judgment to yourself and don't impose it upon others.

Glen Alan Woods said...

I watched the movie today. I feel like the parrot character needed more emotional depth. I mean it was so one dimensional, what with the one word squawks and the fluttering about like a...a..well.. a parrot. Couldn't he have broken out into a sonnet, or engaged battle scenes?

Ok, I am being a goof. :)

Seriously, I felt that the movie dragged a bit. It could have been about 30 minutes shorter if they would have cut out some scenes that were unnecessary to the story. I was rolling my eyes at the wheel turning about with the characters walking on it. However I did think that the one vs one vs one concept pitting the three characters against each other in a sword fight was quite clever, especially since they all had designs of some sort on the female character. One wonders if they were more interested in impressing her and capturing the chest. Sadly, its impact was eclipsed by the overkill in the entire sequence.

Interestingly I think they did a good job providing more depth for Keira Knightly's character, showing that a "nice person" can be negatively impacted by "not nice person" (shades of Jack Sparrow). The scene of her causing Jack to be entrapped on the ship and then lying about it--later to regret it--showed an internal conflict which made the story more interesting. Cheesy as the premise of the story is on the whole, it does provide some conversational touchpoints regarding character, choices and consequences.

Having said that, I completely agree that this movie is not appropriate for children or folks that easily have nightmares.

Emma said...

Everyone seems to adore this... I'm seeing it on Wednesday.

grace4quiddity said...

Did anyone stay until after the credits? woof?

Sandalstraps said...

Traditionalist said

[N]obody is watching movies primarily to do evangelism.

While, as Dr. Witherington pointed out, absent omniscience, this statement cannot be responsibly made, it can be cleaned up into something reasonable. Suppose that, instead of commiting the cardinal sin of making a statement which is true only if it is true of all people, Traditionalist had said something more moderated, like

It is reasonable to assume that most people, even evangelical Christians, do not go to movies principally to do evangelism

What, then, would remain of his broader point that the motivations with which one engages the "secular" culture impact the effectiveness with which one evangelizes that culture?

I suspect that he perhaps has it backwards. When Christians engage the "secular" culture with a single-minded focus on entirely changing that culture, on condemning it for its manifold sins and wickedness, on demanding that it immediately conform to a Christian ethos, then any evangelical effort is doomed to failure. This is because you cannot establish an authentic relationship with someone who you are entirely condemning. There can be no open, honest, trusting dialogue. And, all forms of ministry at their heart are relational, as the example of Christ shows us.

But when Christians engage the broader secular culture openly and honestly, while remaining true to themselves and their faith, they can do great good.

Going to the movies just to see the movie can be an evangelictic act, and a far more effective evangelistic act than going to the movies bent on converting everyone at the theater, because it makes the Christian familiar with the cultural language of the broader secular world, and because it helps to establish a connection with those who the Christian ultimately hopes to see converted.

I admire Traditionalist's desire to remain unpolluted and uncontaminated by the world, but his vision seems much more like that of the Qumran community than the approach of Jesus, who was in the world but not of it rather than totally apart from the world.

Besides that, contrary to some latent Christian guilt, there's nothing wrong with enjoying something that's simply fun. We need not apologize for watching a flick, or hearing a song, or reading a story, which simply delights us on a basic level. That, too, is a gift from God.