For a good while, Disney's Pirates follow-up seems like it's going to be one of those rare sequels that equal their predecessors in quality and enjoyment. The art direction is immaculate (you can almost feel the clammy damp of the attraction on your skin), the comic characterizations remain sturdy and there's a madcap escape from cannibals that includes some of the best slapstick live action has ever produced. We even get a spiffy new villain in the fabled Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), here a squid-faced figure who looks like Captain Nemo fellating Sigmund the Sea Monster. Fun! Somewhere around the one-hour mark, though, the pacing veers dangerously into the lackadaisical, ignoring a rule director Gore Verbinski followed so successfully last time: Move fast, and the audience won't notice Keira Knightley can't act. A bunch of navel-gazing shipboard musings have you hitting the snooze button again and again until the 151-minute film climaxes with a high-seas attack that's elaborate, explosive yet somehow even more interminable. A coulda-been classic ends up feeling variously like a particularly undisciplined director's cut and (shudder!) a Jerry Bruckheimer picture.
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