Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Ambivalent Man to the Rescue

FUTURE BROTHER-IN-LAW WENT HOME TODAY

He said that he had a great time, despite our arguments. We did have a couple, which sucked and makes me somewhat happy that we get a reprieve from each other.

I'm sad that he's left and that we didn't get along 100% of the time. Obviously, though, people never get along 100% of the time.

On another level, moreover, I miss those arguments and discussions we had. I haven't had that much intellectual stimulation in a long time. My blog entries even had something more of an edge than usual, too.

Having my assumptions and ideas challenged woke me up a little, despite the awkwardness afterward. I even had an assumption or two of my own highlighted again so as to make them fresh with meaning again. So, man, if you're reading, and anyone else, I look forward to having more social/political discussions.

We just need to find a good away to avoid the post-discussion awkwardness. . ..

WOOHOO! WE OUTSMARTED A CAT!

In case I haven't told this story here:

Ever since we adopted Max (the cute black cat trying to wreck my good name using my own printer), he has gotten into this habit of tipping over his water bowl and getting water all over the floor. The fiancee and I would have repeatedly stepped into the water. We put the the water bowls back upright, but Max keeps lifting them up with one paw and knocking them over, once again sending water everywhere.

The fiancee even put the bowls on this plastic floor thing with sides to it. We thought that Max may not have the capability of lifting them up over the edges of the thing. We were wrong. It took him a couple days, but eventually could do what he always did, tipping the bowl over and getting water everywhere.

He also likes to poke at the water with his paw.

This cat must have some screwy things going on his mind, or he loves playing practical jokes.

Anyway, after 7 months, we think that we've finally solved the problem. The fiancee went to the local pet store today and got a heavy marble bowl.

Max has tried to lift it up today. He even tried lifting up the plastic thing, but with no luck. The marble bowl proves too heavy for him to lift. This cat would have to develop herculean muscles to tip this bowl.

Never know, he just might. After all, he practically has thumbs on his front paws.

No matter. For now, we've outsmarted him, and that's good enough for now.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 2: DEAD MAN'S CHEST

I can't say that I enjoyed this one as much as the first Pirates of the Carribean. This one simply didn't capture the element of fun like Curse of the Black Pearl. It did have some hilarious elements, which happened mostly in the middle of the movie and made up for the lack at the beginning and somewhat in the end.

Dead Man's Chest also felt pretty slow. It lagged a lot, especially in the beginning, and made me and a fellow viewer wonder where the movie would go and hope that things could pick up a little. I think a lot of this lagging had to do with setting up plot, introducing characters and creating a feeling to the movie.

Nonetheless, the movie probably could have done a lot better by not focusing so much on setting up the feeling of the world that we had entered (after all, a lot of people I got watching Charlie Jade disliked the slowness that came from all the setting up it had to do. Dead Man's Chest, after all, didn't necessarily have incredibly much to introduce to set up the scenery. Most people who watch this movie have seen the first one. Even if they haven't, a good amount of the sense could have gotten introduced during the action, and most people have some good idea of the whole "pirate genre," anyway.

The characterization of the main characters suffered somewhat, too. We got a good sense of many of the peripheral characters, but the main characters became a little more two dimensional because of this increased emphasis elsewhere. Even Johnny Depp, as Captain Jack Sparrow, had a lot less of a presence in this one. He had the swagger and the effeminate hand waving, but the feeling and passion didn't feel presented. Depp just seemed to be going through the motions without channeling the character with as much energy as he did in Curse of the Black Pearl, except for maybe his very last scene.

I felt the same way about Orlando Bloom as William Turner. Not only did I fail to see any chemistry from him in scenes with Keira Knightley, but I felt that Bloom had chanelled the stoic and somewhat distant Legolas from the Lord of the Rings before he had become chummy with Gimli. Once again, going through the motions without the feeling.

Now, Keira Knightley, she played Elizabeth Swann with gusto. Knightley brought life to any scene she entered. I felt the presence, passion, sincerity, gusto, guilt, joy, frustration and anything else that she had the job to project as Ms. Swann. She put on a stellar performance that outdid practically everyone else in the film put together, except for maybe Bill Nighy as Davy Jones, but I won't go any further into that one except that he always does a stellar job. In the end, Keira Knightley, in my opinion, really improved and carried the movie on her shoulders.

The special effects and scenery in the movie looked magnificent, too. The tropical islands, the ships battling each other, the kraken, the boring British troops invading the city, the undead pirates, Davy Jones and all the other exotic and not of this world things just looked amazing. Knightley did a great job keeping my interest, but she only appearred in probably 40% of the movie or so. The special effects did the job for the rest of the movie to keep my attention.

For all the bad things about Pirates of the Carribean 2: Dead Man's Chest, it still works. I think people should still go see it. The main reason it struggles throughout falls on the fact that it actually transcends the fun, campy pirate Disney ride genre to enter the realm of adventure romance and even, somewhat, the epic.

To take in the huge scope of these two literary genres, the characters will naturally suffer. Except for Ms. Swann, the main characters have become less characterized so that their actions will speak for them and so that the larger than life adventure and fantastic aspects of the story get their due attention. They may have lost their characterization, but they become archetypes and have the capability to say something more than just that they can act out an interesting, idiosyncratic character and compete for the main spot in the film. Instead of just having fun watching a pirate movie, the audience feels that it resonates with them on a deeper level.

Unfortunately, I didn't realize this point until the end of the movie. Maybe I started getting an inkling of it about 75% of the way through it, but I wish the movie clued me into the transcending of just another fun pirate movie earlier then it did. Yes, the movie still entertained me even though I silently urged it on here and there. If I had a clue about this transcendence, however, I believe I would have allowed myself more patience and kept myself open to the moments of resonance sprinkled throughout the movie. Sadly, it didn't, so I had to revise my sense of the whole movie after watching it instead of enjoying it the first time through then pulling more interesting themes out of it later.

I still look forward to more high adventure on the high seas and beyond, however. Here's to the grandness of a surprisingly interesting translation of an amusement park ride that somehow keeps transcending itself.

2 comments:

Kasia said...

keira is great, bill nighy is great (and always is i totally agree there -- have you ever seen "the girl in the cafe"? it's soo good and he's soo good in it --u should def. see it!), and johnny and orlando fall a bit flat, surely, but i don't see the transcendence. while you were harsher about "superman returns" than i was, i'd be harsher about "pirates2" than you. the first film was concise and witty and well acted by ALL the leads; this one was not so concise, not so witty, and not so well acted. and a good sequel should be a complete movie onto itself that you can enjoy watching by itself, with, of course, SOME big cliffhangers to get you to come back to the theatre for the final installment. this is not a complete movie. i am very "meh" about this one and i'm sorry to say so b/c i loved captain jack sparrow & co. once upon a time. on the upside: i'm hoping 3 will redeem the franchise for me.

argh!

The_Lex said...

I actually agree with you in the sense that they executed the movie poorly. Very possible that I didn't clearly communicate as much in the review.

And maybe "transcend" doesn't communicate what I mean so much. Maybe I should have said that Dead Man's Chest tries to break the mold of a "fun Disney-ride franchise" movie to become something of an adventure romance or something similar to an epic poem. In the sense that these genres, if executed well, would generally receive more praise as serious when compared to a "fun Disney-ride franchise" (even though I do think that Curse of the Black Pearl actually does capture some great archetypes about pirates, too), however, Dead Man's Chest does transcend genre boundaries. Unfortunately, such transcendence doesn't always fit the audience's tastes.

And working with said transcendence, I, personally, felt that I could appreciate the movie better than simply rejecting it for not keeping my attention. After all, you won't see me necessarily enjoying reading The Bible, The Odyssey, The Illiad, The Aeneid, The Divine Comedy and so on and so forth. I can, however, appreciate them as pieces of work that capture meaningful aspects of the human experience.

Just because a movie doesn't fit the contemporary everyday palate doesn't mean it has nothing that makes it a worthwhile watch. And, so, unlike Matrix Reloaded, where I feel that I need to see Matrix Revolutions to appreciate it (and they really do make a lot more sense when watched back to back), I don't feel that I need to see Pirates of the Carribean 3: World's End to enjoy Dead Man's Chest.

In fact, I bet that they'll get to at least a forth movie. They have so many themes available, the movies could go on for a good long while, like a serial story similar to comics or serial TV shows. As to whether they'll actually do it because of box office revenues, is a totally different story.