There's a reason it's a 12A
What is it with films these days? Whatever happened to investing a comfy hour and a half of your time? It doesn’t seem to be allowed any more. These days, it’s all two-and-a-half hour blockbusters, with plots stretched so thin you can see daylight through them. In an effort to focus your attention, there are an industry-standard fifteen plot twists per thirty minutes’ screen time, which must be as obscure as possible and may or may not be randomly strung together in the big reveal at the end (at which point the audience will collectively look blank), depending on whether or not a sequel is planned.
Which brings me effortlessly to last night’s trip to the cinema to see Pirates of the Caribbean 2.
I saw the first film relatively late – on Sky at the end of last year. It was quite good. Funny, lusciously produced and with the added bonus of Johnny Depp bringing the concept of the sexy pirate to the masses. It’s been widely reported that the third film in the series was filmed concurrently with Dead Man’s Chest, and that the actors involved often had no clue where the scene they were filming featured in the overall narrative. I know exactly how they felt. It probably didn’t help that the slightly aged Dolby system in last night’s venue was cranked up to eleven, but the dialogue, and therefore the plot, was pretty much impenetrable. Every so often, someone on the screen would look either into the middle distance, or straight down the camera, and declaim portentous things in a sort of urgent whisper. Me? Not a fucking clue. I could have been watching anything. I fell asleep somewhere in the middle (this is not a reflection on the quality of the film, it’s just part of my cinema experience, along with hissing and snarling anyone who tries to sit within six seats of me, in any direction), woke up and was neither more nor less confused. And it went on for hours. It made me fidget, and yawn, and think about kittens, and pray to my personal god** that it would be over soon.
But it wasn’t.
And it wasn’t just the wafer-thin, hopelessly convoluted plot. Orlando Bloom still spends all his camera time expressing the emotion and urgency of a man who has just realised his library books were due back yesterday, not next Wednesday as he’d previously thought. Keira Knightley (Karen, to her mum and dad) veered between shrill hysteria and slack-jawed vapidity (a bit like a sheep on Thorazine), with all the charm and depth of character of the boy off of the Frosties advert***. There’s always Johnny though, isn’t there? Lovely, funny old Johnny. And yes, he was sexy, and rakish , and a little bit like Keith Richards. It’s just that there really wasn’t an awful lot for him to actually do. Lots of slapstick, of course. Lots of endless, carefully-choreographed swordfights with Jack Davenport too. The sort that go on and on and on and on until in your head you’re just muttering “just-STAB-him-go-on-right-in-the-heart-then-I-can-go-home-and-not-have-to-crane-round-the-back-of-that-man’s-head-any-more”. All very pretty, and nicely done, and all that. And, to be fair, if you’re a twelve year old boy, it was a work of genius from start to finish. But it was marketed with all that sly-wink innuendo of being a “Kids’ Film That Will Keep the Grown-Ups Amused!”. Except they forgot to put the bits in that amused the grown-ups.
Mackenzie Crook was ace though. Must remember to add him to my list of people that I sort of fancy but probably shouldn’t.
* It’s all linked in with my intrinsic hatred of the human race. I mean, I like people, but I don’t necessarily want them near me. And the cinema is the worst place for that sort of thing. Ugh. I’d rather go for a picnic on the moors with Myra Hindley. With this in mind, I have to seriously want to see a film for it to be worth a trip to the cinema. We don’t go to the multiplex in town, we choose the little riverside cinema in the next town down. Much better. As far as the setting goes, that is. You just can’t legislate for people, sadly.
*** Still not dead.