Sunday, July 16, 2006

Yo Ho

I did mention I'd post some thoughts about Pirates of the Carribean 2 here.  Although, seeing it's now taken in something over $250 million, the odds are pretty good that you've seen it already yourselves, too.  (Let's see...  $250 million, average of $8 a ticket, roughly 31 million tickets sold... yow.)

Yeah, OK, here's the difference between the first and second movies.

First movie, right around Jack Sparrow's brilliant entrance, I settled down in my seat realizing that I was in good hands, made a mental note to buy the DVD when it came out, and enjoyed the rest of the movie.

Second movie, at about (and I can really only guess) two hours in, I thought, "Oh, it's about to end."  And it didn't.  And then about ten minutes later, I thought, "OK, now it's going to end."  Little while later, "Well, you certainly can't accuse them of not giving you bang for you buck."  By the time the movie finally did end, I decided to stay through the credits because I thought there might be a little extra tag bit on the end (there was) and my thought was, "... and I'll be damned if I'm gonna sit through all this again."

I musta seen the first one three times in theaters.  This one, I can't imagine seeing again just because of how freakin' draining it is.  This isn't to say the length makes it dull -- it's not.  It's just overkill.

Was it all necessary?  After you've seen it, think back to the entire sequence on the island where Jack is first reunited with Will.  In retrospect, did you need that?  Especially given how cartoony a lot of it was.  Look, I realize that when you're dealing with a movie where one of your main characters has a squid for his face, you're required to suspend a little disbelief, but I thought ridiculously cartoon-like action sequences took us out of the "reality" of the world of these movies.  (At the risk of spoiling a scene or two for someone who hasn't yet seen it, some of the stuff Jack did was scarily out of the Wile E. Coyote playbook.)

This is what happens when you give a director too much money to work with.  (And I look at Gore Verbinski's credits, and there aren't a ton of them, and it's reasonable to assume that this is the first time he's had such a big pile of money to spend.  IMDB says the budget for this thing was about $200 million -- a full $60 million more than the first movie.)  When you're working on a tighter budget, pricey action sequences and computer-generated effects have to be limited to those that are actually necessary to the movie -- for either moving the story along or revealing something about the characters.  Here, there seemed to be action sequences and effects whose sole purpose was to "top" the first movie.  And while the effects were admittedly spiffy (amazingly so on the aforementioned squid-face), several of the action sequences rang hollow.  It doesn't do any good to have a sword battle that is impressive from a battle choreography point of view, if, from the character point-of-view, these people simply would not be battling at this time.

Sell out your story for action and effects and you get something that makes audiences gasp, "Wow," but it doesn't make them want to keep coming back for repeat viewings.

Of course, given the gobs of money this thing is making, I figure that will just encourage them to keep going on this path for the third one.

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