Saturday, May 26, 2007

At the World's Edge--And BEYOND!
Walt Disney Studios and Jerry Bruckheimer touched gold with Johnny Depp in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. That one has been retitled with The Curse of the Black Pearl added to it to set it apart from the other two movies in the, thus far, trilogy franchise.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End debuted in theaters on May 25 and went on to rake in $58 million on the first day. With a long Memorial Day weekend in the offing, the latest film should haul in the swag, matie!

At more than two and a half hours of viewing time, fans are definitely getting their money’s worth in volume. However, there are some quality concerns. The plot is full of betrayal and alliance switching, some conflicting agendas, dropped plot lines, and rabbits out of a hat.

The second movie introduced a proposed romantic triangle between Jack, Elizabeth, and Will that just didn’t really get followed up on in this movie. It’s still there, but it’s like the writers found out a lot of the fans hated the idea of the triangle springing up out of nowhere (because it wasn’t alluded to in the first movie in any way) and decided to pull it out of the third movie.

Furthermore, the Brethren of Pirates bearing the nine pieces-of-eight (which jarred every time someone mentioned it) was never given any real weight in the first movie, then it had everything to do with the third. The history of the binding of Calypso came out of nowhere, and she appropriately vanished into the same thin air when she left.

The history between Davy Jones and Calypso was pretty good, but it felt like the story was woven into the pre-existing history of the second movie. (I’ve gotta check my Blu-ray discs of the second movie when it comes in to see if Calypso really wore the heart pendant that figured into this movie so prominently.) Then that story line just fell off the edge of the world at the end when, after such a big build-up, there should have been a bookend to finish it off.

The plot convolutions got to be hard to follow, and the constant switching of sides became a headache, though it played out well in the end. I had to work harder at this movie to stay up to speed, which is fine except that I’d earmarked it as a fun, casual movie where I could watch Johnny Depp pull off once more one of the most interesting characters to grace the movies in years.

One of the British Navy men said of Jack Sparrow, “Do you think he plans all this out, or just makes it up as he goes along?” Or words to that effect. I couldn’t help but feel that way about the script. It was all well done, but some of it seemed to be plotting and twists of convenience.

It also got hard to latch onto the emotions of the characters because of all the shifting. There were so many storylines involved that it was all I could do to focus on keeping up rather than how the characters were doing and how they felt. Emotional turmoil for me as a viewer seemed almost to be an afterthought.

But the characters are wonderful. The actors and actresses obviously had a great time showcasing this insane and exciting world again. When Jack Sparrow was talking to himselves, and commanding himselves, on The Black Pearl in Davy Jones’s Locker, it was hilarious. But there was something missing. Sparrow works much better when he has others as an audience and to interact with.

And Jack Sparrow actually comes into the movie really late. In the first two movies, Sparrow is on-screen almost at once, in scenes that absolutely mesmerize. Crewing a sinking dinghy, shooting his way out of a coffin floating in the ocean, those are what I was looking for when this movie opened. But when it did get to Sparrow, Depp rose to the task and had me in stitches all the same.

With regards to the sets, the Singapore scenes were heart-stoppers. The intricacies of the docks, the tunnels, the waterways, and the rooms were elegant escapism. If I were to ever get the chance to see a true pirate hideout, I’d be sorely disappointed if they didn’t look exactly like that. And Shipwreck Cove was the bomb. It was a visual treat that really worked.

As in the first two movies, the action sequences were top-notch. Over-the-top and filled with martial arts elegance somehow tempered with brute savagery, they stand out as confections for the connoisseur of adventure films. Jack Sparrow’s final duel with Davy Jones atop the halyards was just amazing, edge-of-your-seat excitement thoroughly and unashamedly mixed with humor.

Even the final twists worked and fit the characters. No one was totally left in places where I would have wanted them, but their endings all made sense. However, I still have to wonder what lay in Elizabeth’s future and what she was going to do with her life. And Jack seems divided between two goals that appear mutually exclusive of each other.

All in all, though, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is an excellent movie. Fans will be somewhat happy, and properly expecting yet another in the franchise though none at present seem forthcoming. Those who haven’t seen the first two movies and are thinking about seeing this one to see what all the fuss is about are recommended to view the others first.

It be about pirates and magic, matie! What more could ye be a-wanting? Arrrrrrrr!

1 comment:

Katie M. said...

Can't wait to see it!!!! :)