I took my 13-year-old son Zander to see "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" a few nights ago. He thought it was "okay, but not as good as the first one," so I was cool with going. But as an entertainment experience, looked at in isolation, I have to say that it was one of the worst movies I've ever seen in my life and pretty much embodies everything I hate about blockbuster movies specifically and modern pop-cultural pasturized processed art-product in general: weak, literally "junky" plot in that the screenwriters threw in everything they could think of; unmodulated, unrelenting special effects, many only marginally justified; tired trope after tired trope borrowed from other movies and from the various reductio-ad-absurdum pop conceptions of pirate lore and symbolism; truly "wretched excess" in every aspect of the production; and extreme, almost alarming levels of mannerism and exaggeration. The Johnny Depp character, "Captain Jack Sparrow," despite persistent attempts at resonance-building, is a weak character whose appeal to the other characters and the audience is a mystery. (I can only assume the audience learned to love him in the first movie, which I didn't see.) To top it all off, there's not even any real suspense, since the dangers never seem real and we pretty much know how things are going to progress anyway. Captain Sparrow is supposedly dead, for instance, having been swallowed by "Kraaken" the monster, but only small children and simpletons could be persuaded that he actually might not show up in the second sequel (that is, movie #3).
I rather liked "Davey Jones," though, with his mobile face and religious-revival intonations.
Verdict, poor by any standard, F as an adventure flick, D as mindless fun, and F as a cultural experience, and discouraging (even disgusting) if regarded as any sort of a bellwether of popular taste. I squirmed, I really did. I couldn't wait for it to end. It was painful to sit through. Except, as I said, for the fact that I was sitting next to my cool kid.
Oh, and the cinematography wasn't even much good. Damn, man.
Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON
Featured Comment by Dan: The best, if not simply the funniest, review of the movie is given at Ask A Ninja.
Funny, and very accurate. He covered a lot of critical points I didn't. For instance, the shotgun. And the part about even body parts getting their own plot line, and the last line of the movie being a new plot line—all very true. Thanks for this, Dan! —Mike
Postscript to the critics of the criticism: Hey, I did give it a passing grade as mindless fun.