Pirates of the Caribbean
Sasha Stone, Mirror Film Critic
Finally a movie has come along to topple the record Spider-Man had on the opening weekend box office. This year, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest has been looming like the Great White Hope to rescue the box office from lazy ticket sales. Its opening weekend did not disappoint. Pirates now holds the record for opening weekend box office revenues with a whopping $132 million in just three days of release.
Looking at the chart for the highest openers of all time, nine out of the top ten were sequels. Now Dead Man’s Chest tops them all. Remember that next time you complain about sequels and remakes dominating mainstream cinema. They keep making them because they are almost guaranteed to open big, at the very least. Dead Man’s Chest, however, has a strong chance to dominate the year’s box office at this rate.
Pirates will now be held up as a good film, maybe even a great one, when in fact, it is anything but. What it does have, however, is the same sort of escapist magic the ride at Disneyland has. They’ve built faster and more exciting rides but there is no other ride that successfully transports you into another world. The Pirates ride is also inexplicably creepy, even with its cheesy animatronics.
They’ve rebuilt the ride to pay homage to the film just as the film, in its own way, is a tribute to the ride. One would hope that it would go a smidge deeper than the ride does but, sadly, it doesn’t. Jack Sparrow (reprised by the great Johnny Depp) surely has more to offer than a sly grin and a few sharp moves with a sword. And are Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) and William (Orlando Bloom) really so two-dimensional that all they can offer up, finally, is their love for each other?
Perhaps the problem lies with the director, whose strength seems to be in the visuals, not in the storytelling. When the film follows Jack Sparrow on his various scrapes and misadventures, it succeeds in what it wants to be: a light swashbuckling adventure movie. But when it is required to be scary and even moving, it fails miserably.
Much of this is due to the fact that Keira Knightley and Johnny Depp have no chemistry together. Drumming up a romance between them is silly. Depp’s Sparrow is a revelation but he’s quite effeminate. Having him also have to flirt with Knightley is the least believable thing about the movie. And then to turn it into some kind of serious love triangle is a howler.
Dead Man’s Chest is a lot longer than it has any right to be and, frankly, they could have cut the entire incident on the desert island in pursuit of the chest and its contents. With the creatures coming on shore and the ludicrous sword fighting, it looks a lot more like a summer video project cooked up by some teens.
In the end, though, it’s hard to dislike the film with any passion. You get more than your money’s worth with the stunningly beautiful Knightley and the hilarious Depp. It’s tough to hate any pirate movie, really. Especially now that the days have gotten hotter. Escaping into the cool movie theater to spend some time with the grubby pirate crew is not unlike taking a break from the sweltering heat of Disneyland itself at summertime to sit in those boats and take that long river ride with the mist in your face. Is it any wonder audiences flocked to it?