Pharyngula

Best. Movie. EVAR.

The plot careered around like a drunken sailor, and made very little sense. The macguffin was ridiculous. Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley were bland mannequins who didn’t do much. Many of the situations were absurd—the sword fight on the water wheel, the cannibals and the pirates dashing back and forth around the island, heck, just about every time someone pulled a sword, it was for a silly reason. The primary villain, Lord Cutler Beckett, was a conniving bureaucrat who didn’t leave his office, and who was working to get a monopoly for the East India Company—did they get their plot driver from George Lucas? Also, it just sort of stops at the end, and we’re going to have to wait until next summer to find out what happens.

Still…Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest was terrific fun. It’s got pirates, a squid-man, a giant squid, a crew of undead human-sea creature hybrids, random sword fights, a giant squid crushing ships, the cutest little animated barnacles, a giant squid eating people, very poor dental hygiene, and it just never stops. I’d been warned that it was over-long, but seriously, I got to the end and thought, “It’s done? Already?”

I will warn the kiddies it does have scenes of graphic violence. People take axes and swords to the giant cephalopod’s arms, they shoot it, they fire cannons into it, and they blow things up and set fire to his arms. But don’t worry, <SPOILER ALERT!!!> the Kraken bounces right back and he’s OK, and he even gets to eat a major character. I was relieved. I still have hopes that in the sequel, the Kraken will complete its quest, achieve freedom from its servitude, eat all the wicked people, and retire to some nice abyssal current where it will lurk quietly and eat many surprised deep-diving whales.

The other hero of the movie, Davy Jones, was splendid, a magnificently handsome leading man. There were hints that he has a sad romantic history. The character of Elizabeth is showing signs of dissatisfaction with that piece of damp cardboard, Will Turner. I think you can all see where this is going: I predict that in the final movie, Elizabeth will finally meet Davy, she’ll fall in love at first sight, she’ll win his heart, and they’ll sail off into the sunset, where they’ll spawn many squidlets together. Yeah, it’s predictable, but this is the kind of movie that just has to have a happy ending.

Oh, and just to tie up all the loose ends, I think Will and Jack have to end up in a happy pirate life together, too.

Comments

  1. #1 Robert
    August 5, 2006

    How do you pronounce Kraken?

  2. #2 Morgan
    August 5, 2006

    Best movie EVAR?

    Ev-arrrrr, surely?

    …ahem…

    Honestly, the film disappointed me. I thought the first film was great fun, not because of the spectacles but because of the wit; the writing seemed to take a severe hit for this one, with less time spent on characterisiation and banter than on finding hooks on which to hang another special effect.

  3. #3 Apikoros
    August 5, 2006

    Brilliant! Best review of this movie I’ve seen! Ten tentacles up!

    I have to agree with Morgan about this sequel’s quality. So I hope that the third one gets made following the PZ script. I especially want to see how Elizabeth is going to feed her little squidlings.

    I don’t mind if Will gets the other girl (Jack), but my summer intern would mind very much. She thinks they’re both breeders, and can’t decide between them.

  4. #4 Scott Hatfield
    August 5, 2006

    Arrr…that be the best film review EVAR. I be forwarding that to the rest of me crew.

    SH

  5. #5 Amit
    August 5, 2006

    I have to admit the first was better, but still this movie was terrific fun.

    Speaking of pirates have you seen the latest in pirate literatue: The Pirates!: An Adventure with Ahab the follow up to their adventure with Charles Darwin .

  6. #6 Dan
    August 5, 2006

    I thought the movie was tons of fun. It often managed to waltz brazenly right up to the line separating “spectacular” and “stupid,” but never actually crossed it.

    And actually, Robert, the movie had a great little gag about the proper pronunciation of “kraken.” I’m a language nerd, so I laughed my ass off at it, but not that many others did.

    I’ve always heard it pronounced with a stressed long A (as in “day”) on the first syllable: KRAY-ken.

  7. #7 Heliologue
    August 5, 2006

    I’m not entirely sure what your musical tastes are like, PZ, but I think you need to pick up a great new album by the band Giant Squid.

    Were you to email me in interest, I most certainly would NOT be able to hook you up with a leaked copy, because the RIAA says that doing so would be wrong.

  8. #8 drew hempel
    August 5, 2006

    As a leader of La Via Campesina, Basque farmer Paul Nicholson stated: “WTO is an octopus that is why we have been attacking its head, now we need to start cutting the tentacles. Now is time to develop our global, regional, national and local strategies to bury the WTO and more importantly, to bring food sovereignty, our alternative, as the alternative of the citizens of the world and into the agenda of the social movements.”

  9. #9 qetzal
    August 5, 2006

    How many of you stayed to see the brief extra scene at the end of the (VERY long) credits?

  10. #10 J. J. Ramsey
    August 5, 2006

    Do you think seeing the movie helped lessen global warming?

  11. #11 SEF
    August 5, 2006

    I’ve just seen the first film on DVD (which had a brief scene at the end covering one of the points I thought had been left unresolved). Quite amusing, good special effects, rubbish science / self-consistency of concept and usual difficulty in hearing the dialogue (not that most of it mattered). I’ll probably have to wait a bit longer to see the second instalment.

    However, despite the lack of cephalopods (or sea creatures in general) in the film itself, the special features disk did have some old Disney theme park promo footage including an adorable-looking animatronics snail – complete with slime trail. Unfortunately, I couldn’t then spot it in the sequence from the completed ride. Has anyone here been to the park themselves and noticed that gastropod anywhere?

  12. #12 coz
    August 5, 2006

    It was fun and very silly. Johnny Depp can plum my depths anytime.
    Bill Nighy who played Davy Jones was great, even under all those tentecles, his expressions and features were recognisable- very cool.

    Looks like Geoffery Rush will be back for the third one, which should be alot of fun.
    Interesting, cool bad guys, bland sticky insects for the good guys, no wonder kids of today are turning to the dark side.

  13. #13 Alan Kellogg
    August 6, 2006

    Since human zombies eat brains, what do illithid zombies eat?

  14. #14 Mary
    August 6, 2006

    I didn’t stay for the final scene after the credits. Can someone describe it?

  15. #15 NelC
    August 6, 2006

    I’m in the “krah-ken” camp myself, though I occasionally wander over the line into “crack-n” territory.

    Yeah, a bit too long, a bit too much to-ing and fro-ing, but when I felt like giving up on the thing, they had that scene with the “major character” and the Kraken, and just that one shot as they make their decision rescued the film for me. And the very last scene was a cracker of cliff-hanger that I think will sustain my enthusiasm until the third movie. (Missed the credits sequence, dammit! I was with someone with no patience for waiting around at the end of a film, so off we went as soon as the credits started rolling. I’ll just have to wait for the DVD.)

  16. #16 Sunny
    August 6, 2006

    Does Davey Jones not look like an evil version of Zoidberg?

  17. #17 teep
    August 6, 2006

    Oh, and just to tie up all the loose ends, I think Will and Jack have to end up in a happy pirate life together, too.

    Will does not have enough balls to go for the prettiest person in the movie. He’d need a considerable shove in that general direction and I don’t think he’d come up with it on his own. It could happen, though, particularly if Will was all torn up by his girl having run off with the (amazingly cool and squiddy) Davey Jones. For the other half, I’ve no doubt that Jack is inclined to do anyone who is pretty and not saying “no” too loudly. A depressed and broken-hearted Will would be easy pickings and he’s pretty enough to be worth a tumble or two. The only downside I can see there is that Jack would probably get bored with Will in fairly short order (oppressive guilt. excessive righteousness. It’d all be so tiresome.) and would then have to find some way to get rid of him.

  18. #18 R. Cannon
    August 6, 2006

    You know, on the basis of the mouth anatomy and the internal structure of the arms (which we saw when they were blasted by cannon), I figures that the kraken was an echinoderm, not a cephalopod. Granted, it would be a starfish of unprecedented size and pelagic ability, and would be remarkably convergent upon squid.

  19. #19 Ken Cope
    August 6, 2006

    Bill Nighy who played Davy Jones was great, even under all those tentecles, his expressions and features were recognisable- very cool.

    I was rather lying in wait for somebody to say something like the above.

    That wasn’t expert compositing, nor even lotsa latex expertly applied. Blow Dry’s sinister stylist and the man who was Slartibartfast was Mr. Not Appearing in This Film, except for his voice and the development of his character. Much like the contribution made by Andy Serkis to Gollum, what you saw in the film was 100% digital replacement; a blend of performance capture and strong animation from ILM.

  20. #20 NelC
    August 6, 2006

    Well, CGI hasn’t yet got to the point where it can economically conjure convincing performances from scratch. Having Nighy there to do the actual acting counts for a lot, so I don’t think it’s entirely fair to pretend that the animation carried his performance, rather than the other way around.

  21. #21 Paul W.
    August 6, 2006

    You know, on the basis of the mouth anatomy and the internal structure of the arms (which we saw when they were blasted by cannon), I figures that the kraken was an echinoderm, not a cephalopod.

    Die, heretic!

  22. #22 Schwaumlaut
    August 6, 2006

    Actually, regarding the plot, it is like a good D&D campaign. It is certainly not great literature, or even terribly coherent, but it is very like a good D&D campaign.

  23. #23 Ken Cope
    August 6, 2006

    What loaded qualifiers reconomically and from scratch are these days, especially considering PotCII’s staggering box office plunder.

    All I intended to point out is that viewers saw neither Bill Nighy in latex, nor Bill Nighy’s face composited with digital tentacles. Davy Jones as seen in the film was an entirely digital puppet, whose performance was a collaboration among many contributors.

    Nighy’s voice, mannerisms, much of his motion, facial expressions and the like were digitally captured, but no film footage of the actor appeared on the screen. What was on screen was a digital double articulated by a team of animators and technicians. There were times when Nighy would be able to see “his” performance captured faithfully, but there were certainly times when animation carried what no performer would be asked to do.

    I recently watched a reel containing just the shots of Gollum done by the animator who created the character’s animation rig, “from scratch” as it were. A not inconsiderable portion of Gollum’s acting was provided to the director not by Serkis, but by animators. Sometimes, in order to “motivate” the reactions of hobbits, what Gollum was called upon to do by the animators was entirely different than what had been filmed or mo-capped.

    Nighy (just as with Serkis) by his presence and participation helped the actors who were not digitally replaced to deliver a more convincing performance, as they could focus on an actor present in the scene with them, without having to resort to their imagination. Still, there is no director living who would constrain his animators and technicians to merely slavishly replicate Nighy’s contributions. That’s rather the point of using a digital double, to have the flexibility to collaboratively craft a performance greater than the sum of any of its parts.

    It’s a measure of the success of the technical and artistic team that the performance feels like Nighy’s, and not like some sort of digital puppet. Producers always want faster and cheaper and better. As standards are raised, and techniques and tools made available for the next time somebody wants something better than anybody has ever before seen, on time and on budget, they won’t always have to pick only two out of three.

  24. #24 Bro. Bartleby
    August 6, 2006

    The movie adventure was filled with popcorn and fun until Davy Jones appeared, then I couldn’t get PZ’s mugshot out of my head! And to top that, at the restaurant afterwards, everyone was ordering the calimari.

  25. #25 coz
    August 6, 2006

    I know it was all computerised etc but he still looked like the actor, the same as Golum. If you have to use a face it makes sense to model it on the person doing the voice and movements
    I still think it was cool however it was done but i like Bill Nighy.

  26. #26 M
    August 6, 2006

    Personally, I thought it was the best movie I’ve seen all year; it certainly blew “Superman Returns” out of the water.

    The pirates were great, the CGI phenomenal, and while I felt a little cheated that I have to wait a whole year for the next picture, I’m willing to bet it’ll be worth the wait.

    I hadn’t thought about the Kraken like that before…it’s definitely not a squid, not with those teeth (And lack of any kind of beak), but are there any creatures around that actually do have that kind of mouth? I couldn’t think of anything other than an unusually aquatic Sarlacc…

  27. #27 what ever
    September 10, 2007

    well if you think potc’s plot is useles then you didn’t absorb to much of the movie. there is a meaning and stroy ling to the plot, you just have to look for it and as for the actors being usless maniquins i bet there better then you woul be, don’t put people down if you have done what they did. wrting about a movie and makeing it are to diffrent skill levels altogether.

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