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July 10, 2006 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-07-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Savvy Depp redeems
wild 'Pirates' sequel

By Imran Syed
Daily Arts Writer
FILM REVIEW k i
In the world of film, there are characters
and then there are characters. The former are
many; they're the fellers who walk on and
off the screen, hardly
noticed, forcing the audi-
ence to squint during the Pirates of the
credits just to find out Caribbean:
their names. But the lat- Dead Man's
ter - they're something Chest
special. They're the Indi- At the Showcase
ana Jones, Forrest Gump, and Quality 16
Hannibal Lector types of
guys that stick with you. Disney
They've got quirks that
feel familiar, affecting personalities and ines-
capable grace and charm.
You don't find too many of them these
days, not in a time where blockbusters at
multiplexes just make money and artful
filmmaking is only minimally showcased
on the side.
But we stumbled upon one such character
three years ago - and in a Disney movie
based on a theme park ride at that.
And now Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny
Depp) is back in the first of the "Pirates of
the Caribbean" sequels, "Dead Man's Chest."
While he remains a singular eccentric wor-
thy of our admiration (if only for that lovably
absurd sense of self-importance and pity), the
sequel itself is simply more of the same - a
good idea now stretched to its limits by too
many characters, plot twists, wisecracks and
cinematics, not to mention an exhausting 150-
minute runtime.
The sequel begins (proceeds. ends) in an

odd, unpredictable manner. Just as they're
about to be married, Elizabeth Swann (Keira
Knightly, "Pride & Prejudice") and Will
Turner (Orlando Bloom, "Kingdom of Heav-
en") are arrested, charged with helping the
fugitive Sparrow escape (see the original
film for those excellent exploits). Will cuts
a deal with villain-in-wig Lord Beckett (Tom
Hollander, "Pride & Prejudice") to retrieve
a treasure Jack carries with him in exchange
for their release.
What he doesn't know is that Jack has a
deal to pay down himself, one that will lead
to a showdown with the undead demon of the
seas, Davy Jones (Bill Nighy, "Love Actu-
ally") and his crew of slimy, sleazy fish-men.
The epic struggle that results - for life, death
and otherwise - tests the loyalties of our
three heroes, pushes them to the brink and
leaves them there, to be rescued next year by
another sequel.
Much of what made the original film an
unexpected success is present in the sequel,
like harrowing, mythic plotlines, high jinks
and, of course, Jack Sparrow. But the great-
est quality of the first film was its infectious
fun - unexpected but genuine. But as is the
nature of infections, they're only infectious
for so long. "Dead Man's Chest" depends on
too many of the same twists and antics as
its predecessor. They've worn out their wel-
come by now.
Eventually, even Sparrow becomes tiring.
He's still an outlandish loner, still trapped
in his illusions of grandeur, but in a film
that goes nowhere then circles around to go
nowhere again, it's hard to root for him as we
all did the first time.
But never in going nowhere did a film accom-
plish this much, and "Dead Man's Chest" is
hardly a failure. What it loses to the first film

Next on "Cribs," Captain Sparrow shows off new whips and elegant dining hall.

in originality and charm, it makes up for in a
deeper plot, nonstop action and astounding
special effects. Indeed, given that this film
cost $225 million to make, it follows that many
ambitious effects-driven sequences that flow so
seamlessly here could hardly be attempted in
another film. And that has payoffs in aesthetics,
which have to count for something.
Like Sparrow himself, "Dead Man's
Chest" is peculiar, hard to describe and easy
to love and hate at the same time. Like most
second editions of trilogies, it has no begin-

ning or end, and would be a failure if it stood
alone, but luckily, it doesn't. The narrative
mess the film creates will hardly deter audi-
ences, who are already packing theaters in
record numbers.
As frustrating as it sometimes is,
"Dead Man's Chest" is good enough to
pique unprecedented interest for that
next film, "At World's End," which opens
next summer.
Captain Jack will sail again, and that's
enough to look forward to.

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