Originally, I rolled my eyes at the mere mention of Disney turning one of their rides into a movie. I deemed it doomed. I've seen plenty of videogame-to-movie conversions fall flat on their faces (House of the Dead, Bloodrayne, etc.) and this just seemed like a step down from that. A Disney theme park ride converted into a big-budget movie? How was THAT going to work?

I figured Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (POTC for those who don't know--like LOTR) was going to tank in a matter a weeks. Then, I paid more attention to it. Johnny Depp would be playing Captain Jack Sparrow as a campy pirate wearing beads in his beard and MAKE-UP! I wondered if this was Depp being nutty and eccentric. Whether he was or not, Depp usually takes roles, in my opinion, that are unique and interesting; he doesn't take any role that comes along. He is very precise in his choosing, such as Edward Scissorhands, Donnie Brasco, Sleepy Hollow and Blow. Sure, earlier in his career, he played Jack Marshall in Private Resort or Cry-baby in the movie of the same title, but Depp has blossomed into an exceptionally talented actor, a true thesbian honing his craft. My respect for Depp and his choices regarding roles is such that when I noticed his name was attached to this "silly theme-action movie", I considered giving the movie a chance.

Then, the previews of POTC rolled out, starring none other than "my Legolas", Orlando Bloom, as Will Turner, in addition to Kiera Knightley. Now, just because a few big names are in the opening credits doesn't mean much, but this trio, in addition to the popping and exhilarating previews caused me to want to see this movie, hoping it would live up to the hype. It did live up to the hype and its Box Office pull for the movie...$305,411,224. Pretty good for an indoor boat ride attraction, eh?

Three years later, I am happily typing my review of POTC: Dead Man's Chest and am ecstatic to report that there will be a third installment, simply called Pirates of the Caribbean 3 at this moment, due out summer of 2007.

This sequel is, dare I say, better than the first. Curse of the Black Pearl was necessary and without it, Dead Man's Chest wouldn't be what it is. It is a perfect sandwich in the POTC trilogy, following the storyline from the first seamlessly and maintaining the same flavor of humor and witty repartee as its predecessor. Although a bit more graphic and straining against its PG-13 rating, the movie has you laughing at the perfectly placed jokes and watching avidly. The movie is long (2 hrs and 31 minutes) but it doesn't feel that way. The smooth conversions and tightly coiled storyline reels you into this world of swashbuckling pirates and supernatural enemies (as well as human ones).

Depp seems to live in the skin of Captain Jack Sparrow and you can tell he really enjoys playing the foppish vagabond. He saunters about in his effeminate way, flashing gold teeth and trying to talk his way out of everything. Somehow, Depp again turns a cowardly scoundrel of a pirate into a much beloved character, despite his nappy hair, eye makeup and lack of personal hygiene, as Elizabeth pointed out.

This maritime setting would not be possible without the exquisitely intricate and beautiful tall ships, such as the Endeaver, the Dauntless, the Flying Dutchman and the Black Pearl (played by the Lady Washington) are exquisite against the foil of the turquoise, crystalline perfection of the ocean. These ships are a facet of the pirate legends and stories. Check out Tall Sails Adventure for more stories about pirates and information on tall ships, like those used in Pirates of the Caribbean 2. For extensive pictures taken in Jamaica and information on the production of the ships whilst POTC 2 was being filmed, click here.

This is not just a rehash on the first movie, but a clever extension of it. It's wacky, funny, grim, gory, and all around an exciting, fun romp with twists that are cohesive. Plenty of characters and pirates from the previous film are back again, stealing the show in their smaller parts. And yes, even that adorable undead monkey is back. The effects are just as spectacular, more so, and fall into my 'elite special effects' category that includes War of the Worlds, Jurassic Park and Lord of the Rings. When the technology is so well-blended that one forgets that a giant squid tenticle or dinosaur isn't real, the movie does so much more for the viewer in terms of creating a unique and unforgettable world.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the many creative fight scenes. I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't go into details, but let me just say that you can swashbuckle pretty much anywhere and anyplace in this film. The actions sequences are intense while at the same time being highly amusing. All the elements that you loved from the first installment are here, as well as an intriguing story. Plus, Dead Man's Chest has the advantage of not having to introduce our characters or set up the exposition. Since this is a continuing story, you get to skip past all the "prerequisites" and get thrown immediately into the plot, the action, the drama. This will undoubtedly be the summer's most entertaining film, perhaps even the year's. It's compelling, exciting and faithful to the characters and the story. It will not disappoint fans of Jack...I mean Captain Jack Sparrow and Co.

In related news, Johnny Depp Added to Disney Ride. The likeness of him is surreal. :)


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