I've been watching the series, as build up to the new one! And what a chore it's become!
The original is still surprising in how good it is. Everything you could want from a film of this type. It absolutely breathes personality, and even at a longish running time, always keeps moving from one good scene to the next. Depp is loads of fun, as is Rush. You can really tell why Keira Knightley continues to work, and why Orlando Bloom does not. The only thing that doesn't hold up are the effects, which I recall being great at the time. Now, they're basically snapchat overlays. But it doesn't matter. Still really fun.
Dead Man's Chest is not as good as I remember, mostly because of all the mechanisms that force it into being only half a story. There's an excellent movie in here that's been pretzeled into too many goddamn things, all of which are not equal. The Davy Jones/Kraken stuff is all terrific, and those effects are actually quite terrific. But the Jack/Will/Elizabeth stuff is all overthought and overcomplicated. At World's End is still bad, which is very disappointing, because it has a lot of nice elements in it. The opening hour has a lot of neat weird sequences, and even if it doesn't make sense, strictly speaking, or move the narrative forward in a smart way, it's all unique and Verbinski directs the hell out of it. Then the last two hours (!!) happen, and it becomes so wildly anemic and pointless that it angered me. The attempts at comedy, for example, are particularly labored and unsuccessful, which is something this film really had on lock in the first entry. At least Rush is back.
More than just about any other franchise, this one suffers from trying to be like other franchises, specifically Lord of the Rings. If they'd just worried about making one good Davy Jones/Kraken movie and worried about a third one later, I think everyone would have enjoyed it more. The second and especially the third ones really feel half done narratively, like they had no where near enough time to write the script, and excise the unneeded stuff. Verbinski does his damnedest, but the enormity of this thing gets away from everyone.
Will I make time for On Stranger Tides? Unclear, but I've only seen it the one time, so I hope I do. I've already got plans for the new one on Thursday night, so the clock is ticking.