Sunday, May 27, 2007

Review - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)

In 2003, I tentatively bought a cinema ticket for a Disney pirate film based on a theme-park ride which had never failed to underwhelm me as a child. I was sceptical to say the least. Not to mention that the last pirate film I’d seen had Geena Davis in it and was… shite. I was never so glad to have been proven wrong. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl was pure, popcorn munching blockbuster gold and it was everything that a good summer movie should be.

And now we’re on sequel number 2 and that summer of 2003 is starting to look as golden as the summer of 78 must look to hippies and Bryan Adams. At World’s End is plagued by similar problems to Dead Man’s Chest. Orlando Bloom is again at his hammiest, but is amazingly outdone by Keira Knightley’s pathetic performance as the ‘babe with attitude.’ She’s neither convincing as a babe, nor a pirate, leaving her to merely float through the film in an unfortunately beefed-up role.

Otherwise, the characters are enjoyable. Rush is brilliant once again as the resurrected Barbossa and Bill Nighy is utterly exceptional as Davy Jones, still the most believable looking CG to this day and a masterful mix of graphics and performance that’s up there with Gollum. But sadly, poor old Chow Yun Fat is underused and wasted.

Which of course leads us to Captain Jack Sparrow; the main reason for the series’ unprecedented success and a fresh reason to pick pirates over ninjas. Johnny Depp’s Keith Richards impression has undeniably resulted in the creation of one of the best characters of the last 30 years and he’s always a joy to watch. But he can’t fill the screen for 2 hours and 45 minutes and it’s the plot and script that support Sparrow that let the film down.

The script is bloated and contrived, resulting is a jumbled mess of overblown exposition and lengthy portions of unwelcome dialogue that are frequent and painful to sit through. ‘Oh, I’m making a deal with you now.’ ‘Oh no, I’m making a deal with you.’ Only by the climactic battle scene do Verbinski’s visual and tightly controlled style take over, offering a highly-sequenced chaotic climax that is the film’s sole enjoyable achievement.

Captain Jack Sparrow has become iconic and with due cause, but this time around is certainly his weakest outing. The cinema erupted in side-splitting laughter at every word that passed Depp’s lips, funny or not; which leads one to believe that he could recite Hamlet and still evoke belly laughs. So decided were the audience on the hilarity of Captain Jack that they were ready to erupt at the mildest of facial ticks. But to the discerning eye, this is easily Jack’s poorest turn-out and his act is beginning to feel a little tired.

The entire movie is essentially a superb demonstration in how to waste money and it is a genuine challenge to sit there and work out what the point of any of it is and why we should give a shit. It’s hard to discern any of the character’s motivations and when you do figure it out, they’re extremely flimsy. They could have shaved off at least an hour and it would have been a far tighter, far more enjoyable action/comedy flick. Hell, they could have made one film out of the last two. The first half of Dead Man’s Chest was wasted on prancing around with the cannibals. A completely pointless, albeit hilarious, deviation from the plot. Similarly, there is far too much flambayling about the place in At World’s End.

Furthermore, because it’s a continuation of a film that was forgettable at best, with World’s End, you are left wondering who the hell all these people are, what the hell was the plot again and was it really so grand and epic that it had to run over two films? Really, two separate, individual stories and plots would have offered us a more varied, concise trilogy, free from the ridiculously overblown interludes of idiocy that frequent the two sequels.

Ultimately, it is a shame that Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End do little justice to their worthy progenitor. Still, in the same way Reloaded and Revolutions won’t detract from the genius that is the original The Matrix, The Curse of the Black Pearl will remain a modern day blockbuster classic in my eyes. My advice? Donate the cost of a ticket to At World’s End to buying the DVD of the original.

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Jana said...

I completely agree. There was so little I enjoyed, this movie actually made Dead Man's Chest seem good in comparison.

Aloysius said...

thanks for the comments.... but my frnz said the other way round... :(

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