12 July 2006

Three thoughts on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest:

1. Years ago, even before the first Pirates movie came out, I predicted on this blog that Gore Verbinski would win an Oscar for Best Director sometime in the next twenty years. Dead Man's Chest, which is, truth be told, a rather shapeless and mediocre movie, only confirms it. Hollywood tends to reward directors who are masters of organization, rather than artists, and Verbinksi is a peerless director of traffic. In a few years, he'll be up there with Peter Jackson. (If you don't believe me, take a look at Jackson's filmography prior to The Fellowship of the Ring, and tell me which of the two looks more impressive.) After all, there are mediocrities and then there are mediocrities, and one overstuffed reel of Dead Man's Chest has more atmosphere and zest than anything that, say, Ron Howard has ever done.

2. If you look at other movies that generated tremendous opening weekends in the past, you'll notice one thing: very few of these movies are driven by an actor's performance. In fact, I don't think that any of the top ten even list an actor's name above the title. Pirates is the lone exception. I have mixed feelings about Jack Sparrow, but I'm always pleased when audiences actually show up at a movie to watch something resembling a human being, rather than a digital special effect.

3. Speaking of which, the special effects here are really, really good. So good, in fact, that I didn't even realize that one major character is entirely digital. (It's like taking Gollum for granted.) If that isn't a landmark in movie history, I don't know what is—even if the guy is mostly tentacles.

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