Yo ho ho and a bottle of something very rum, this second instalment of Gore Verbinski’s money-spinner is a swirling follow-on from part one and a dizzying lead into part three – it’s all midsection in other words. Tonally, it’s Monty Python’s Life of Blackbeard, but with one big difference. It’s not funny. The question is: is it supposed to be? The actors don’t seem to know, so they all camp it up just to be on the safe side. Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow continues channelling Keith Richards and actually getting Donatella Versace. Orlando Bloom leaps about trying to look like the film is about him. And Keira Knightley looks fiercely gorgeous, whether in full skirts, or disguised as a man for some of the film’s most improbable bits. New arrivals include Bill Nighy, unrecognisable as a squid-faced Davy Jones, and Stellan Skarsgard as a pirate with a starfish face. I hope both were paid full whack, in spite of being only half used. They probably were because the one thing you can’t deny about this extravaganza is that it cost a packet, and looks it too, thanks to the teams who laboured to integrate CGI and live action – the film’s real achievement. But god, POTC2 is long and, tellingly, the outtakes are a lot more fun than the film itself.
© Steve Morrissey 2006