Well, I liked it a lot. A LOT. But I didn’t love it. It’s not as charming as “Curse of the Black Pearl”; well, it couldn’t be, there’s not that same enchanting element of surprise and amazement. But it’s pretty good for what it does. And it makes a very satisfactory second act: some things resolved (or sort of), more left hanging for Act 3.
Still, it’s no “Empire Strikes Back,” and it so easily could have been.
Two segments were interminable: the cannibals and the Kraken. Could have lost a good (or bad) twenty minutes between them, easy, and spent those minutes on more Jack.
Special effects incredible: but a bit of overkill with Davy Jones and his crew of crustaceans. Did like Bootstrap Bill, though.
Though nothing could top the first one in CBP, Jack’s entrance was a hoot and a half; entire theater cheered muchly. In fact, pretty much everybody got a big round of applause and hoots when they showed up for the first time, except Norrington and, unfairly, Elizabeth.
I was especially delighted to hear everybody give it up bigtime for the redoubtable pirate pair Pintel and Ragetti, particularly since Pintel (the short stout bald pirate, the Oliver Hardy of the two) is played by MDF the lovely Lee Arenberg, who looks MUCH handsomer than that in real life, of course.
Both of them (Mackenzie Crook is also back, as Ragetti, the Stan Laurel component) had more lines this time, including an absolutely priceless exchange on pronunciation which had me ROTFL and which I won’t further spoil for you. Go, Lee!
Johnny was amazing, as usual, and ’cause I know you’re wondering, yes, his snogging scene with Keira Knightley was pretty hot. (She’s publicly commended his kissing abilities in several TV interviews; but really, who could have doubted??) He’s got a lot more screentime in this one, maybe (oh heresy!) even to the film’s mild detriment.
He’s sporting some fancy new rings and a new coat and shirt, but otherwise is just as scruffy (and scrummy) as last time. Luvly.
Orlando Bloom has a bit more of a spectrum to play with than he did in CBP, especially in the scenes with his father aboard the Flying Dutchman. Nice to see the setup of jealousy between him and Jack for 3.
Totally approved the attraction of Jack and Elizabeth, and the rationale given by both for same. Keira had a nice moment or two of shame and self-disgust and regret at the end, which was good to see and very well played.
Looooved the corruption of Norrington. I expect he’ll be either redeemed or punished (probably more of the latter) in POTC 3, which is tentatively titled “At the World’s End” (and to which Chow-Yun Fat is signed to play a Chinese pirate—cool!).
Witchy Swamp Woman wasn’t as over the top as I’d heard, and I really liked both character and actress. Bit hard to make out lines with her accent, though: I kept wanting to turn on the closed captioning.
And the ending is one of the shocker cliffhangers of all time. Which I won’t spoil even here. (Shhh: his father is Rosebud. Darth Vader is the sled. He’s a she. His mother. His sister…)
And it got a huge, HUGE reaction. As well it should. I absolutely did not see it coming. And I can’t WAIT to see how they play it out.
I would have liked more quiet moments of character development. It was waaaaayyy scanted in the big rush for actionmoreactionmoremoremoreaction.
Not to mention I wanted significantly more exposition and backstory, including details of the deal between Jack and Davy Jones, which according to Gibbs involved the raising of the Pearl from the ocean depths thirteen years ago—long before the plot of CBP—and Jack being made its captain. I want to know how it got there in the first place.
And how he got the magic compass, which was touched on (he bartered for it with Tia Dalma) fully explored (ah, but just WHAT did he barter?).
I also want to know how Pintel and Ragetti were spared the hangman’s noose (we last saw them surrendering to the redcoats aboard the Pearl, presumably bound for the Port Royal scaffold). They praise themselves for escaping, but I want details.
Which it’s possible they did say how all these things transpired, only there was too much theater noise for me to make out.
It’s self-indulgent in places, overly self-referential in others. Some people might like that…
There’s also an uptick in the Gratuitous Grossness factor, especially in the early scenes at the prison.
Gibbs also had a bit of expo about the fate of the Isla de Muerta, but again hard to hear.
New villain pretty blah. Not even of Grand Moff Tarkin status. Just…boring.
And as I said, the cannibal sequence (pretty pointless, as nothing plot-affecting really happens, and what does could have been handled in a fashion far less clunky) and the Kraken attacks (one would have been plenty; they could have kept the first one mysterious, not letting us see the beastie until it goes for the Pearl at the end…which I’m not doubting for a NANOSECOND we’ll see again, along with her captain—duh!) were overlong and repetitive and could have used some major editing. I kept reaching in vain for a fast-forward button…
Editing overall isn’t as sharp as last time, either, nor is the dialogue as funny. And there wasn’t enough new music. Glad to hear all our old familiar thematic friends, but I love the music as music and would have enjoyed more new stuff.
I have a feeling it will improve even more on subsequent viewings, and I absolutely will be seeing it at least five more times. I’ll update.
Oh, and stay in your seat till the absolute final END of the credits. There’s a cute little bonbon for you if you do. Not worth waiting for more than once, though. Besides, it’s polite to acknowledge everyone who worked on the movie, so do stay and read their names. Again, not obliged to do so more than once.
All in all, I’ll give it an A-minus. But it’s got a heart. And a beat. And you can dance to it.