Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Staring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, Bill Nighy
Director: Gore Verbinski

So I took the plunge and finally saw the film. I’m glad I went in with low expectations – considering how much of a mess the second film was – it was to be expected.

I enjoyed the first film. I thought, while not incredibly deep (not that films need to be as this is another topic for another day) the film creates a pretty competent pirate tale which was actually exciting. The simple plot allows for a pretty easy to follow narrative. The only thing that still really bugs me is why Gibbs is so fearful of pirates at the start of the first film, yet ends up being one just less than 40 minutes later!

Dead Man’s Chest was one of the biggest cinematic disappointments I’ve experienced. While not as bad as the experiences I’ve had with the Star Wars prequels, the film was a victim of the first film’s success.

The mistakes that occurred in the first film only became worse come the second. Plot mishaps, “twists”, and various other poor examples of writing infect the entire film. Without Johnny Depp (or the first film) it would have been a complete disaster. In many cases the examples of “themes” they tried to shoehorn into the film felt like poor attempts at homage. You don’t try to copy practically everything “funny” from the first film in a sequel that is released no more than 3 years later. You just don’t.

At World’s End didn’t learn a single thing from the second film – nor did I expect them to since they were already well into production when the first film was released.

Gone is any semblance of coherent plot that even the second film had a slight grip on. Every character has their own agenda – and most of the time they seem to be in conflict for no reason other than because that’s how it was written. The film opens in what really could be compared directly to a Return of the Jedi type opening where they good guys need to get the “villain” to help them out.

What makes up the first 40 or so minutes of the film is a confusing eclectic collection of sequences – in some cases either severely truncated or separated by other scenes to the point that you’ve either lost interest or you’re left completely confused because they never bothered to explain it.

The dead “world” isn’t very exciting – a flat desert and a beach. Aside from the floating bodies and the sea of boats – nothing seems out the ordinary until they leave. I suppose they didn’t either want to spend any of their 300 million dollar budget on making it look more sinister – like the dream world in The Cell – or crazy like the no so great film What Dreams May Come. It was boring – and a complete waste when you can almost consider the winter wasteland they sail through before reaching the “edge of the world” more interesting than the land of the dead.

The characters were almost caricatures compared to what they were in the first film. Jack does his “Jack” stuff – and is mostly uninspired – especially since they don’t address why all of the sudden Jack’s gone completely insane, seeing multiple versions of himself at various points of the film. Was he always crazy (I mean real crazy – not “Jack” crazy)? Or was this just some plot contrivance to get multiple Jacks on screen at once?

Keira Knightly proves again that she can only play two different characters: The “tough” girl and a damsel in distress. Unfortunately for a character like she was in the first one she makes a huge and quite unrealistic jump into her Elizabeth 2.0 version by the second film. Smart (as in “smart mouth” not intelligence) and extremely grating. Now she’s a pirate. Oh, very logical.

Orlando Bloom? I hope he’s proud of his career because it’s deader than Brendan Fraser’s was. The difference is it’ll stay dead and buried baring any cameo in the Hobbit in a couple years.

Bill Nighy is completely wasted in the film. Whatever respect or sympathy you might have had for Davy Jones in the second film is gone – because there’s literally nothing there to care about in this one.

In the end Geoffrey Rush’s Barbossa is about the only character that is remotely interesting in the entire film.

The character of Tia Dalma is one of the best examples of the script becoming bloated and completely out of control. The Calypso/Bretheren Court plotline felt shoehorned (a term I keep using because that’s what they did!) into the plot at the very last minute, leading to a confused: “what?” coming from the audience that hasn’t invested hours each day of their life to memorize every aspect of the Pirates films. Personally they’re starting to give Star Trek and Star Wars a run for their money for “waste of time” memorization of pointless trivia and facts – and this series has only been around for 4 years!

In the end I’ll have to say that because of my low expectations and my general happy attitude coming into the film, it wasn’t half as bad as I expected.

*** / *****


Matt Ramone said...

I like the sentiment that not every movie has to be deep. Not every movie has to be a talkie indie to be enjoyable. Sometimes the spectacle and fun is justification enough - no one brings a book on a rollercoaster, so they?

And Gore Verbinski is forgiven all sins because he played drums in the Daredevils.

Chris said...

I should have pointed out that the only other recent sequel that has disapointed me more then Dead Man's Chest was the Matrix Reloaded.

Matt Ramone said...

Oh, I forgot. Who can leave things pleasantly open-ended when THERE'S PROFIT TO BE HAD?