Y’arr, She Blows

by Ian T. McFarland on May 25, 2007

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
  • IMDB: link

I stand by my assessment that Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest was better than The Curse of the Black Pearl, and now I can say it was the best of the three Pirates films.  At World’s End is so clumsily and half-assedly assembled that it loses all of the fun its predecessors had, and fails to come up with a single justifiable excuse for wasting two hours and forty minutes.

Things pick up in this film pretty quickly after the end of Dead Man’s Chest, with the whole gang suddenly in Singapore asking a piratificated Chow Yun-Fat for a ship and a crew so that they might sail to Davy Jones’ Locker to retrieve Johnny Depp‘s Jack Sparrow.  Which got me thinking – how did they get to Singapore without a ship and crew?  That place is pretty far from the Caribbean from what I understand, and starting the movie with a plot hole that big is a pretty awful way to begin a film.

When we first see Jack, he’s stuck in some sort of waterless, white Pirate’s hell as envisioned by Salvador Dali, and is forced to lick rocks.  Actually, the few scenes that we see in this movie from Jack’s perspective are the bright-spots – loony and nonsensical, taking a queue from Tex Avery and the likes.  But the rest of the film that follows, involving some sort of end to the world of pirates, is just dull.  Poorly executed film-making ensues.

Just about every element of the story is revealed poorly-wordedly, in an accent you can’t understand or in the middle of an epic battle over the clangs of swords and explosions of cannons.  Honestly, you won’t understand a single word when you need to, you’ll just have to watch the characters’ actions and use some guesswork to piece the plot together.  The chemistry that often made the first one entertaining isn’t even attempted 90% of the time.  Jack Sparrow hasn’t been all that funny since the first one.  The action, where it was a lot of fun in Dead Man’s Chest and at least followable in The Curse of the Black Pearl, is just mindless here, with stretches of minutes you can spend tuning out and thinking about how much you miss the first two films.  And, among a large collection of other complaints, Geoffrey Rush only gets one good line as opposed to the dozen or so great pirate quips he got to deliver in The Curse of the Black Pearl.  Maybe the single one aspect that has been consistently entertaining in all of the films now has been Kevin McNally as Gibbs – Sparrow’s right hand man and full-fledged, lovable pirate the whole way through.  The character, though utterly secondary in nature, never has to bend to any plot or development, so we just get to hear McNally deliver tasty and easily-digested pirate dialogue the whole way through.

I’ve never really understood the appeal of the Pirates films, but something I’ve always been able to enjoy are the production values.  Part one gave us convincing skeleton pirates and strong shades of blue to appease the eyes, while part two upped the ante with wonderful, vibrant tones of aqua-tinged greens and introduced a squid-headed monster that, a year later, might still be the high-point in the history of digital effects.  By all standards, the looks of these films were pristine examples of why it’s so much fun to escape a dull summer day and look at a massive screen, but part three just can’t deliver on this account.  There aren’t any new big bad, special effect beasties like Davy Jones to wow us out our seats; and though the color palate probably took just as much work to perfect as it did in the first two, it’s just a massive, film-long dulled out picture.  It’s not fun too look at, and the lack of spice and the abundance of greys and blacks ensure you’re eyes won’t be glued to the screen like they have been for the rest of the franchise.

There are moments – brief moments – that relive the fun that the franchise has been able to deliver in the past, but what good is it to see Jack Sparrow at his sleaziest when the next scene is just another dull exchange between characters that could have easily been cut out of the film?  There’s no treasure here, and whatever possible sequels in the franchise will need to be seriously re-tooled to be as much fun as they were before it arrived at World’s End.

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