Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, dir. Gore Verbinski)
I really think this is the worst would-be blockbuster of the summer. Worse than Click? Even Click made me laugh once or twice. Worse than The Da Vinci Code? At least Da Vinci sort of taught you some conspiracy theories, and was occasionally suspenseful. Worse than Poseidon? Well, maybe not worse than Poseidon, but at least Poseidon was shorter, by almost a whole hour. That right there is the first sign that something is wrong with this movie: It's two and a half goddamn hours long, which is at least 45 minutes longer than anyone should spend with even the best silly action movie about pirates. But this is far from the best silly action movie about pirates. The great thing about the original PoTC (which I maintain is horribly overrated and also way too goddamn long, but still fun) was the way it surprised you. Johnny Depp's performance came out of nowhere and was so charming and fresh that you couldn't help but be pleased. The plot was inconsequential but at least it moved things along, and you could sort of root for Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley to be united in twue wuv.
The plot of Dead Man's Chest makes no sense at all and goes on forever, making it really hard to care what happens to our heroes since it's nearly impossible to figure out what they're trying to accomplish. Bloom and Knightley are no longer star-crossed, so the love story is virtually nonexistent. And Depp's performance is by now expected, and he does nothing other than what you expect him to do. Without the novelty, you realize that it's really a one-note gag, and he doesn't bring anything new to it here. The producers have clearly tried hard to figure out what people liked about the first movie and pile on more of it, so we get tons of cool but distracting special effects that look like they belong in a different movie, endless chase scenes, and mugging from Depp. Worst of all, after slogging through two and a half hours of this, you get to the end only to discover a fucking cliffhanger! Not a single one of the plot threads is resolved, and you're left completely unsatisfied, as Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer tease you with the prospect of Pirates 3 next summer. Bastards. Wide release
Wah-Wah (Nicholas Hoult, Gabriel Byrne, Miranda Richardson, Emily Watson, dir. Richard E. Grant)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
For a movie about divorce, colonial oppression and alcoholism, this is a pretty fluffy and inconsequential affair. It's got a bunch of good actors, but the material is sort of limp and lacks conviction. One of those movies that proves that indie films can be just as generic as blockbusters. Opened limited May 12; in Las Vegas this week