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Monday, July 10, 2006 at 9:40 PM

My Right Hook Man, Mr. Smeeds

Somehow or other, I've always had a thing for pirates. First off, they have a great sense of fashion. Tall boots, gold hoop ear rings, silk scarves wherever they fit, cool-looking cutlasses, AND of course eye patches. I was one of that minority who never experienced cable until high school. So as kid, the regular networks would play old movies Saturday and Sunday afternoons, where I first got a taste for swashbuckling action. Could anyone be more dashing than Errol Flynn?
Hollywood just doesn't seem to have done much with the pirate genre for the past 50 years. So I was really excited when the first Pirates of the Caribbean came out and even took myself to see it in the theater, a highly unusual occurance in my world. It was then that I developed my philosophy concerning pirate movies. Either there are good pirate movies, that incorporate all the things that we've come to expect in this genre, or there are bad pirate movies that do not, or execute said expectations very poorly, or mar these devices with a lot of trivialities and annoyances such as excessive dialogue or plot lines. This is not great literature, or great film. Nobody goes out to see a pirate movie for the splendid acting, or the tender, moving drama, or to learn something about the human condition. You go to see a pirate movie because you want to see action. You want to see parrots, patches, planks, and peglegs. Swordfighting, cannons, ship to ship combat, daggers, guys swinging from ropes and tearing sails to shreds. There must be rum, grog, AAAARRRRR!'s, booty, pistols, smoke and scallywags. You get the idea.
A friend insisted that the plot was important and necessary to move the action along. I counter with the argument that there is only one essential plot when it comes to pirate movies. Legitimate authority -> Pirates -> Hidden Treasure. Anything else that concerns character development, romance or other relationships between characters, or political intrigue is frivolous. Really, the only reason the legitimate authorities are important is that they give the pirates somebody to fight.
So, I was very psyched about the first Pirates of the Caribbean and thrilled to hear that they were coming out with a sequel. It seemed that July 2006 would never arrive. After months and months of waiting, July 7th was here. I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest on opening night. I've never seen a movie opening night, and it was nice to have saved the experience for this particular movie since I'd been expectantly waiting for it. The verdict?
THIS IS A GOOD PIRATE MOVIE. I would even go so far as to say this is a very good pirate movie. It offers essential pirate elements: the hidden treasure chest, parrot, barroom brawl, sword fight, sticking a dagger into a sail and sliding down, swinging around on ropes, cannons, rum, and pistols. The cannibals were a nice added touch. Unfortunately, the one thing missing was a good ship to ship combat, but I am willing to forgive this oversight. They certainly made up for it by staging the swordfight on a deserted island, which just happened to have some abandoned monastery or mill with a bell tower, so that the swordsmen would have steps to fight on and ropes to swing from. Because really, what is a swordfight without a staircase? After Jack Sparrow's exceptional entrance in the first movie, I was waiting to for his entrance to this one. It was not disappointing, though I still like the first better. It is better than the previous movie in that it severely diminished the role and tangent storyline of Cutler Beckett, the nasty prick who's only interested in amassing power, a proponent of globalsim, blah, blah, blah. If he's not actually swordfighting pirates, what the hell good is he? Cutting out the political intrigue and relationship stuff and too much dialogue just made this a much better movie.
On the other hand, there are bits that could have been improved. There were three separate occasions in which the kraken takes over a ship. Granted it is a large beast, and does not move quickly. However, computer animation guys and editors are much smaller, and so could have more quickly executed these scenes. I love a pirate movie as much as the next guy, but it was starting to drag a little bit toward the end, and shortening these scenes up would have alleviated that problem. Jack Sparrow's finale was fitting, but the end that was tacked on afterwards was just, tacky. At any rate, I would yet highly recommend Dead Man's Chest becasue as my philospher son, reader of Chinese fortune cookies says, "Never judge a work of art by its defects."

By adriennelibrarian at 9:40 PM

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