Judging from the reviews coming in for Pirates 2, about 60-70% of critics probably wouldn’t have liked The Empire Strikes Back if it came out today. They would have called it too long, a re-make of the first film, etc.

They’re even complaining that Dead Man’s Chest “doesn’t have an ending.” So… it’s a crime that a film paying tribute to the great serial adventures films ends like a serial adventure film? This movie is clearly a “middle” episode designed to make us count the days until the concluding episode. (Have they forgotten The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers already?)

For those who enjoy good old-fashioned pirate adventures, large-scale adventure films, formidable villains, standard-setting special effects, imaginative action scenes that are designed to surprise and delight, and MIDDLE movies that give us deliciously maddening cliffhangers… I suspect you’ll end up disagreeing with the critical majority. For this lifelong adventure film fan, this is the most satisfying big-budget blockbuster since The Lord of the Rings films.

Wayne Proctor gets it, over at zheist.

I emerged from the theatre three hours after going in, exhausted, panting for breath, holding my sides… and very gratified! Seeing the Pirates of the Caribbean sequel was so much fun I could barely walk afterward. There are some uproarious sequences that will keep you glued to the screen and waiting with anticipation for the next stunt, and you will cheer as Cap’n Jack Sparrow does his cartoony best to make it through yet another gauntlet of epic, Warner Brothers-esque peril. Seriously, this is the best cartoon movie in a long time! (At least since The Incredibles…)

But for Wayne, the highlight wasn’t Jack Sparrow:

Personally, I loved the Kraken. Ever since I was a wee lad thrilling at the Disney production of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, I have loved monster squids rising up from the fathoms and with a thousand tentacles pulling down helpless frigates, freighters and Flying Dutchmans. Even so, I was totally unprepared for just how monstrous this beastie could be: Cap’n Jack has a very memorable encounter that still has me laughing.

Wayne also has an unusual choice for his favorite character — one who barely registered in the first film, but who delivers one of the most memorably comical turns this time around: Ex-commodore Norrington, played by Jack Davenport:

My favorite was Norrington, the stiff commodore from the first movie. A scene where he is caked in mud and vomit and simply standing swaying, rum bottle in hand, is priceless. Nice to see some character evolution -or, in this case, devolution.

Mary Ann Johanson says:

…we don’t just want more, we want MORE. A sequel would have to take different chances, go new places, up the ante, not be afraid of taking a darker and scarier and gloomier route, not be afraid of maybe even throwing in a bummer of a cliffhanger of an ending — Jack Sparrow frozen in carbonite? — while all the while still being uniquely funny and swashbuckling-sexy and crammed with adventure and romance and all those yummy things. Anything less than that, and it’s Jack Sparrow 2: The Quickening.

… the charming cast carries us through the first awkward act until, suddenly, at around the 45-minute mark, everything suddenly snaps into focus, and by God, it becomes The Empire Strikes Back. And since this is a two-and-a-half-hour movie, that means we’ve got plenty of Pirates of the Caribbean Strikes Back to go. Not that those early bits of the movie are unnecessary — they set the stage and usher us along to the good stuff, and you won’t even find yourself thinking that all that early bits should have been better, because the rest of the film is so spectacular that you will forget that you’d been squirming in your seat just a moment before.

Once it finds its groove Dead Man’s Chest just gets it all so damn right, bouncing back and forth between out-and-out physical humor that — Disney appropriate — makes you think of amusement-park rides, makes you think that bit in particular will actually show up as a Disney World attraction, and sly wit that you almost can’t believe they managed to sneak in….

And Cheryl Eddy (San Francisco Bay Guardian) raves,

Unlike, say, flicks based on beloved comic books, Chest has no touchstones to hit or homages to pay, other than dropping in a few references to the first film. This allows director Gore Verbinski and scripters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (like sultan-of-slick producer Jerry Bruckheimer, all back from Pearl) the freedom to toss whatever they want into their Chest, which runs almost as long as Superman Returns but is infinitely more jolly, Roger. For a big-budget studio confection, there’s actually a lot of imagination at play; Nighy’s sneering performance, coupled with the special effects used to create Davy “Fishface” Jones’s slimy visage, allows for a character who’s equal parts Phantom of the Opera and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters.

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