Last night Nelson and I caught the midnight opener of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest with a bunch of SWILies (SWIL is the Swarthmore nerd frat--basically East Dorm with less LARPing).
The whole movie's basically a giant exercise in fan service. Lots of references to jokes in the previous movie (at least three rum jokes!) that really wouldn't make much sense on their own. Fight scenes that as often as not fall over the edge of ridiculousness (*Two* instances of big rolling things hurdling down hills?? Huh?? And that Looney Tunes bit with Jack, the pole, and the fruit really should not have been in there.) and as a result feel like they drag. And for all the fanfickers out there, a makeout session between Elizabeth and Jack, as Will watches. What?
It feels like this installment will only make sense when paired with the third movie. It introduces all sorts of plot entanglements (not elaborated due to spoilers) but really the only thing settled by the end of the movie is that the kraken and Davy Jones are no longer chasing them right this moment. Everything else still hangs in the air. Maybe I missed something, but why the heck was Davy Jones going after Jack anyway? Something about thirteen years' captaincy on the Black Pearl...but no specifics.
At two and a half hours, the movie really could have used a good editor to tighten up the fight scenes (and get rid of one of those damn rolling things) and replace some of the repeat jokes with more fresh ones. It feels like the movie's producers knew how iconic Pirates of the Caribbean I was that they weren't confident enough that they could reproduce the kind of quotable wit that it provided, so they took refuge in making a pile of derivative work instead.
They updated the soundtrack with a bunch of cool pipe organ music, which was a nice dramatic touch. Good way to bring in organ nerds like my dad. Less cool, they brought in an Oracle-ripoff character (vaguely creepy psychic black lady whose character seems to lack self-interest or any motivations whatsoever) who really seemed out of place in this movie. The way they introduce her, I was expecting a badass like Patience (from Firefly), but so far she's unsettling but completely benign.
The movie's very funny, it's entertaining, and there are some fresh bits to it. But it really doesn't stand on its own merits. If you're a fan of the first, see it...but not at full price. Wait for the second run theaters or so.