Pirates Of The Caribbean

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(Depp, right, is deep in this one...)

If you liked Pirates of the Caribbean, you’re likely to enjoy the latest installment just about as much as the original. After all, Johnny Depp and the rest of the principal cast has returned, as has director Gore Verbinski, scriptwriters Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie and Jay Wolpert, cinematographer Darius Wolski, costume designer Penny Rose, Editors Craig Wood and Stephen Rivkin, visual effects supervisor John Knoll, stunt coordinator George Marshall Ruge, makeup artist Ve Neill, hair stylist Martin Samuel and the bulk of the rest of the original off-screen team.

Not surprisingly, then, Pirates 2 is a seamless sequel, a scary seafaring adventure that’s virtually indistinguishable, visually, from the first. Sure, sashaying Captain Jack Sparrow may have added a few new tics to his eccentric assortment of already-exaggerated facial mannerisms, and the production appears to have upped the ante in terms of special effects. But this movie is essentially another spine-tingling, tangled web of intrigue, romance and horror designed with pre-pubescent crowd in mind.

That being said, the fright fest suffers slightly from a malady common to the ‘tweener in many a trilogy, namely, serving as setting the table for the franchise’s finale. Here, the two and a half hour investment ultimately feels a tad frustrating because the flick ends on an obvious cliffhanger, necessitating that one invest in Pirates 3 to see how this story turns out.

But to be honest, I had no complaints prior to that frustrating development, as I found myself fully-engaged by the multi-layered mystery which picks up where the last left off. At the point of departure, we find lovebirds Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) putting their wedding plans on hold after being arrested and facing execution for aiding and abetting Captain Jack’s escape.

The couple is granted a reprieve conditioned on Will’s tracking down Jack and returning with the elusive Captain’s magical compass. What ensues is a special effects-extravaganza during which our heroes encounter wave after wave of grotesque, mostly computer-generated creatures, including cannibals, zombies, slaves, ghosts, a headless hermit crab man, squid-faced Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), and a hammerheaded shark man.
But don’t kid yourself, despite all the eye-popping distractions, Pirates 2 remains, at heart, a Johnny Depp vehicle, where the ever-prancing pirate can be relied upon to steal every scene in his own inimitable fashion.

Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated PG-13 for frightening images and intense adventure violence.
Running time: 150 minutes
Studio: Walt Disney

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