Friday, August 18, 2006

My Review of Pirates of the Caribbean II.

I sat through Pirates of the Caribbean II without any particular expectations, and it was probably better than way, because, had I looked forward to it, I think I would have walked out feeling very, very disappointed. Where the first film was fun, fresh, entertaining and showed flashes of brilliance, the second has been put together with far less consideration to the art of filmmaking, and with more of an interested eye for the bank statements.

The performances range from acceptable to atrocious. Depp gives his Captain Jack Sparrow the same humour and alcohol-addled craziness that he did with the first. This is both and bad; whilst he is fun to watch and occasionally near-funny, there are hardly any surprises. Pride & Prejudice’s Tom Hollander is the shining star of this film, and steals every single scene he’s in, a feat made more impressive if you consider that his character is one of the most poorly written of all time. Orlando Bloom is absolutely, horrifyingly, frighteningly awful, and one wonders how good an agent he must have bagged himself to continue getting himself film roles when he’s just so bad. And to round off this acting “ensemble,” is Keira Knightley, who seems to want the world to forget that she has given an Oscar-nominated performance. It doesn’t help that Elizabeth Swann is no Elizabeth Bennet, but Knightley is so utterly frustrating in her constant pouting that one can’t help wishing that her character will quickly disappear.

Plot holes are rife and ridiculous. For five whole minutes, I sat there, puzzling over just how did Elizabeth become such a dab hand at swordplay? But the biggest plot hole comes at the end, where you can practically hear Bruckheimer’s purse strings anticipating a stretch. Like the rest of the film, the score is below-par, with Hans Zimmer carelessly shoving together the leftovers from his scores to The Da Vinci Code and Gladiator. But the icing on the distasteful cake here is the sloppy, sloppy, screenplay, which made me groan at least 10 times, a record only matched by films such as Crash (2004) and Signs. From the lame jokes as old as the Black Pearl to the clunky, laughable dialogue, there’s a rusty jewel of a bad screenwriting feat achieved in always every minute of running time. That 4 people were involved in the writing makes the script even more shameful; they were clearly drunk the entire time.

I make it sound as if the film has no saving grace. Admittedly, this is not quite true. Pirates of the Caribbean II: Dead Man’s Chest does not set out to be a masterpiece, it aims to be entertainment, and there are the odd moments of surprise and amusement to be found. Some of the undersea scenes invoke the same ghoulishness as felt with the first, and, at times, you can leave you brain at home and attempt to enjoy it. But then I remember the simple thing that is logic, and this film is certainly lacking in it.


Anonymous said...

Who needs logic? It's a blockbuster

paul haine said...

I went in looking forward to it, having really loved the first film, and I came out utterly disappointed. The fact that the first hour or so of the film is just a strained attempt to reunite the entire cast of the first film didn't help - they reused characters, jokes, lines...bleh.

I doubt I'll see the third film. If they'd made three standalone films starring Depp then it could have worked, but these shot-back-to-back sequels are rarely anything more than cash-ins. Shame.

David T said...

Your film reviews are incredible. You just have a way with words, Em. I envy you!

Matt Agnello said...

I definitely agree with your review. But I think you missed a couple things that could be at least a little redeemable about the film. The screenplay definitely sucked, but taking the realm of fantasy and putting it side by side with real life -- the East Indian Company accepts and plans around fantastical monsters such as Davy Jones -- is a pretty neat idea. (They even take it to the next step in the third film by accepting that the world is flat.) And seeing a ship with sails go under water is a pretty nifty idea.

The art design was amazing on this picture, too. Davy Jones's character design was incredibly creepy; they made sure you felt every tentacle on his face. The way they saturated his entire environment with that sickly sea green, how it was always rainy, making everything shiny and almost gooey in appearance... Any visual involving Davy Jones and his ship was a superb piece of craftsmanship that, in my opinion, at least made a bittersweeet movie like this digestible.

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Anonymous said...

you obvioulsy have no taste in films what so ever..
i think your comments are shit and you should keep them to yourself!!
bloom, depp, and knightley are absolutely awesome and the others...bill nighy are awesome too.
just keep your mouth shut next time!

Anonymous said...

The Budget

The main event of the Budget on 21st March was that the basic rate of tax had decreased from 22% to 20%. Removing the 10% starting band of tax (currently paid on the first £2,150 of taxable income) and changes to national insurance would mainly pay this for. Furthermore, there will be a reduction in mainstream corporation tax from 30p to 28p from April 2008, and, as part of environmental taxes, the highest polluting vehicles to pay £400 vehicle duty next year. There will also be a 1p rise on pints of beer and cider; 5p increase on wine; 7p on sparkling wine; freeze on duty for spirits, and packet of 20 cigarettes to increase by 11p. Inheritance tax allowance to rise from £285,000 to £350,000 by 2010.

Education spending in England to rise from £60bn this year to £64bn, £67bn, £70bn and £74bn in successive years: education to be a right for every young person to the age of 18. The NHS will receive £10bn more - biggest cash increase ever: 7% increase in real terms

Overall impact
Public spending on defence

The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies said: "The changes to personal taxes seem to have been carefully designed to ensure that this Budget is not a tax raid on the rich: those earning over around £42,000 a year will find their disposable income almost unaffected by the personal tax changes. However, almost one in five families in the UK will lose, and, unusually for a Brown Budget, the losers come from across the income distribution, and include some families with children."

Taxes were cut by £2.5bn overall in a broadly neutral Budget with the money raised through green taxes and reducing reliefs on empty property. Environmental groups welcomed Mr Brown's green measures but said they did not go far enough. "The Budget falls short of the measures required to tackle climate change," said Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth.
The tax changes overshadowed the announcement of a squeeze on public spending in 2008-11, when spending will rise by 2 per cent on top of inflation, half the increase in recent years. Education will be the exception as the biggest winner in a government-wide spending review expected this summer, enjoying average rises of 5 per cent a year.
The Chancellor also used his swansong Budget to take 600,000 pensioners out of the tax net through more generous allowances and promised that 200,000 more children would be lifted out of poverty through an icrease in tax credits and child benefit, which will rise from £17.45 a week for the first child to £20 by 2010. He also cut corporation tax from 30p to 28p in the pound.
Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat leader, said: "The 2p cut in the basic rate is welcome, but let us be clear that this is an income tax cut for the wealthy dressed up as a tax cut for the poor. The big increase in taxation is a doubling of the starting rate of income tax [from 10p to 20p in the pound]. Anyone earning less than £15,000 will pay more in income tax."

UK economy
This section contains documents and publications reflecting the Treasury’s aims to maintain a stable macroeconomic framework with low inflation.
Debt management Reports and documents relating to the management of UK debt.

Exchange equalisation accounts The account that holds the UK's reserves of gold, foreign currencies and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), with documents dating back to 1997.

Financial stabilityIncludes the Memorandum of Understanding establishing a framework for co-operation between HM Treasury, the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in the field of financial stability.

Fiscal policy Overview of policy, key documents and definition of 'Golden Rule' and the 'Sustainable Investment Rule'.

Framework for National Statistics 2000

IMF reports ("article IV consultations")IMF provides surveillance of every major economy and reports for the UK are in this section.

Monetary policy Key documents in the monetary framework, the Monetary Policy Committee and Remit letters.

Fiscal policy should not be seen is isolation from monetary policy.
For most of the last thirty years, the operation of fiscal and monetary policy was in the hands of just one person – the Chancellor of the Exchequer. However the degree of coordination the two policies often left a lot to be desired. Even though the BoE has operational independence that allows it to set interest rates, the decisions of the Monetary Policy Committee are taken in full knowledge of the Government’s fiscal policy stance. Indeed the Treasury has a non-voting representative at MPC meetings. The government lets the MPC know of fiscal policy decisions that will appear in the annual budget.
Impact on the Composition of Output
Monetary policy is seen as something of a blunt policy instrument – affecting all sectors of the economy although in different ways and with a variable impact
Fiscal policy changes can be targeted to affect certain groups (e.g. increases in means-tested benefits for low income households, reductions in the rate of corporation tax for small-medium sized enterprises, investment allowances for businesses in certain regions)
Consider too the effects of using either monetary or fiscal policy to achieve a given increase in national income because actual GDP lies below potential GDP (i.e. there is a negative output gap)
Monetary policy expansion
Lower interest rates will lead to an increase in both consumer and fixed capital spending both of which increases current equilibrium national income. Since investment spending results in a larger capital stock, then incomes in the future will also be higher through the impact on LRAS.
Fiscal policy expansion
An expansion in fiscal policy (i.e. an increase in government spending) adds directly to AD but if financed by higher government borrowing, this may result in higher interest rates and lower investment. The net result (by adjusting the increase in G) is the same increase in current income. However, since investment spending is lower, the capital stock is lower than it would have been, so that future incomes are lower.
Differences in the Effectiveness of Monetary and Fiscal Policies
When the economy is in a recession (when business and consumer confidence is very low and perhaps where deflationary pressures are taking hold) monetary policy may be ineffective in increasing current national spending and income. The problems experienced by the Japanese in trying to stimulate their economy through a zero-interest rate policy might be mentioned here. In this case, fiscal policy might be more effective in stimulating demand. Other economists disagree – they argue that short term changes in monetary policy do impact quite quickly and strongly on consumer and business behaviour. Consider the way in which domestic demand in both the United States and the UK has responded to the interest rate cuts introduced in the wake of the terror attacks on the USA in the autumn of 2001
However, there may be factors which make fiscal policy ineffective aside from the usual crowding out phenomena. Future-oriented consumption theories hold that individuals undo government fiscal policy through changes in their own behaviour – for example, if government spending and borrowing rises, people may expect an increase in the tax burden in future years, and therefore increase their current savings in anticipation of this
Differences in the Lags of Monetary and Fiscal Policies
Monetary and fiscal policies differ in the speed with which each takes effect the time lags are variable
Monetary policy in the UK is extremely flexible (rates can be changed each month) and emergency rate changes can be made in between meetings of the MPC, whereas changes in taxation take longer to organize and implement.
Because capital investment requires planning for the future, it may take some time before decreases in interest rates are translated into increased investment spending. Typically it takes six months – twelve months or more before the effects of changes in UK monetary policy are felt.
The impact of increased government spending is felt as soon as the spending takes place and cuts in direct and indirect taxation feed through into the economy pretty quickly. However, considerable time may pass between the decision to adopt a government spending programme and its implementation. In recent years, the government has undershot on its planned spending, partly because of problems in attracting sufficient extra staff into key public services such as transport, education and health.
Evaluation: Problems with the use of active "demand-management" policies
(1) The measurement of output: Where are we in the cycle? Where are we going? How fast? Will we know when we get there? Inaccuracies in estimating the possible trade-offs in macroeconomic policy
(2) Time lags in the policy process: measurement, decision, execution and then effectiveness of policy changes
(3) What kind of fiscal policy? Spending (on what?) or tax cuts (for whom?)
(4) Will spending (fiscal policy) ‘crowd-out’ other spending, either directly or indirectly?
(5) Will changes in fiscal or monetary policy affect other economic objectives - such as the exchange rate, the trade balance and the provision of public services?
(6) Fiscal policy is weak (ineffective) when investment is very sensitive to interest rates and when consumers pierce the veil and attempt to offset the actions of the government (e.g. saving a tax cut, or increasing their saving when higher government spending leads to expectations of higher taxes in the future)
(7) Monetary policy is weak (ineffective) when consumers are willing to hold large quantities of money rather than spend them even when interest rates are very low

Fiscal policy
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Fiscal policy is the economic term that defines the set of principles and decisions of a government in setting the level of public expenditure and how that expenditure is funded. Fiscal policy and monetary policy are the macroeconomic tools that governments have at their disposal to manage the economy. Fiscal policy is the deliberate change in government spending, government borrowing or taxes to stimulate or slow down the economy. It contrasts with monetary policy, which describes the policies about the supply of money to the economy.
Fiscal policy is described as being either neutral, expansionary, or contractionary. Expansionary fiscal policy will increase the output, which will increase interest rates. Contractionary will slow down the economy and reduce interest rates.
Contents[hide]· 1 Methods of raising funds o 1.1 Funding of deficits · 2 Economic effects of fiscal policy · 3 See also · 4 External links
[edit] Methods of raising funds
Governments spend money on a wide variety of things, from the military and police to services like education and healthcare, as well as transfer payments such as welfare benefits.
This expenditure can be funded in a number of different ways:
· Taxation of the population
· Seignorage, the benefit from printing money
· Borrowing money from the population, resulting in a fiscal deficit.
[edit] Funding of deficits
A fiscal deficit is often funded by issuing bonds, like Treasury bills or consols. These pay interest, either for a fixed period or indefinitely. If the interest and capital repayments are too great, a nation may default on its debts, most usually to foreign debtors.
[edit] Economic effects of fiscal policy
Fiscal policy is used by governments to influence the level of aggregate demand in the economy, in an effort to achieve economic objectives of price stability, full employment and economic growth.
Keynesian economics suggests that adjusting government spending and tax rates, are the best way to stimulate aggregate demand. This can be used in times of recession or low economic activity as an essential tool in providing the framework for strong economic growth and working toward full employment. However, such policies have commonly resulted in deficit spending.
During periods of high economic growth, a budget surplus can be used to decrease activity in the economy. A budget surplus will be implemented in the economy if inflation is high, in order to achieve the objective of price stability. The removal of funds from the economy will, by Keynesian Theory, reduce levels of aggregate demand in the economy and contract it, bringing about price stability.
Despite the importance of fiscal policy, a paradox exists. In the case of a government running a budget deficit, funds will need to come from public borrowing (the issue of government bonds), overseas borrowing or the printing of new money. When governments fund a deficit with the release of government bonds, an increase in interest rates across the market can occur. This is because government borrowing creates higher demand for credit in the financial markets, causing a lower aggregate demand (AD) due to the lack of disposable income, contrary to the objective of a budget deficit. This concept is called crowding out. However, the effects of crowding out are usually not as large as the increase in GDP stemming from increased government spending.
Another problem is the time lag between the implementation of the policy, and visible effects seen in the economy. It is often contended that when an expansionary Fiscal policy is implemented, by way of decrease in taxes, or increased consumption (keeping taxes at old level), it leads to increase in aggregate demand; however, an unchecked spiral in aggregate demand will lead to inflation. Hence, checks need to be kept in place.

NI charges to take the gloss off 2p tax cut
Published: March 23 2007 16:29 | Last updated: March 23 2007 16:29
For a “simplified tax system” the changes to income tax and National Insurance announced by Gordon Brown in this week’s Budget confounded many tax experts.
Beneath the fanfare of the 2p cut in the basic rate of income tax were additional measures, designed to claw back the costs of this £9.6bn giveaway. From April 2008 the 10 per cent starting rate tax band will be abolished, and the basic rate of income tax cut from 22 per cent to 20 per cent. Then in April 2009 the higher rate threshold for National Insurance contributions will be aligned with a new higher rate income tax band of £43,000, leaving higher earners paying 11 per cent NI on almost £10,000 of additional earnings.
The closer you are to the current higher rate income tax band the more you stand to benefit from these changes, while low earners will be hit hardest. Many earners should feel only marginal effects from the changes over the next three years.
The abolition of the 10 per cent tax band will mean that all those earning more than £7,500 will have £2,230 taxed at 20 per cent (the new basic rate) rather than 10 per cent, resulting in an extra £223 taken from their paypacket each year.
You will need to earn more than £16,500 before the 2 per centage point reduction in basic rate tax offsets the effects of this loss. Here, it seems, lie many of the one- fifth of households who Brown admitted will be worse off as a result of the tax changes.
The chancellor is increasing tax credits for those on lower earnings, though they will now have to apply for these themselves. This exposes more people to an administrative system which managed to overpay claimants by £2.2bn in each of the tax years 2004-05 and 2003-04.
Higher rate earners will see a reduction in their tax bill in April 2008, only to see it taken back the following year when the new higher band of National Insurance kicks in. “Once the full alignment occurs higher earners will lose out a bit, though the total effects are fairly neutral,” says John Whiting, tax partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “Those set to gain most are the individuals earning between £25,000 and £30,000 who will see a lot of their income taxed at 20 per cent rather than 22 per cent.”
NI contributions of 11 per cent are currently taken on earnings between £5,044 and £33,540, with 1 per cent paid on everything earned above that. From April 2009, those who earn more than the current NI threshold of £33,540, and who pay only 1 per cent on all income above that level, will pay an extra 10 per cent on all income up to £43,000, and 1 per cent on excess above this.
The winners over the next three years will be those hovering around the current higher rate of income tax (£33,300), says Mike Warburton, senior tax partner at Grant Thornton. This group will see more of their money taxed at 20 per cent rather than 40 per cent when the higher rate threshold increases to £43,000.

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I stand up.
I am very quiet. Let the months and years come, they can take nothing from me, they can take nothing more. I am so alone, and so without hope that I can confront them without fear. The life that has borne me through these years is still in my hands and my eyes. Whether I have subdued it, I know not. But so long as it is there is will seek it’s own way out, heedless of the will that is within me.
— All Quiet On The Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque

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Anonymous said...


Tee Chess said...

I am a big fan of Depp and he is looking awesome in this movie. I have seen the complete Pirate series and its my favorite movie collection. After reading your review I am excited and wanted to watch this movie again.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End