Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Movie Review: Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End

"The Caribbean" seems to be a much broader descriptor these days than just "that sea south of Cuba with all the islands" because the movie opens in Singapore and doesn't leave that part of the world. But enough about location (I am a geographer by education, mind you!). Let's talk about the characters everyone has come to love and the plot that no one can follow.

Captain Jack Sparrow returns to his usual plans, schemes, double-crosses, and off-the-wall-but-miraculously-effective antics. No problem there; we've come to expect it from him. It's what defines his character; however, everyone else seems to have been in the rum too much because they all try to be just like him. Everyone double and triple-crosses everyone else so many times that I didn't know who was the hero in the story. At one point, I found myself cheering for the squiddy villain from Dead Man's Chest, Davy Jones!

On top of that, there are so many new characters introduced that I couldn't really keep up. And I'm an adult with a not-too-shabby IQ. We meet 7 new "pirate lords" (Jack and Barbossa are two others), all their pirate minions, the keeper of the pirate law ("the Code"), and lots and lots of floating dead corpses (there must be a distinction: recall the first movie having a crew of living corpses). Way too many new characters for a continuation of the first sequel (think Back to the Future or The Matrix trilogies).

And I can't even talk about the plot. The first and second movies had very much linear plots. The average moviegoer could follow them. There was some action sequences and witty dialogue built around great stories. This third movie built up the action sequences and witty dialogue, but this ended up squeezing the story down to a dry husk. And a weak story can't handle the constant shifts and twists the writers envisioned.

There is one scene I absolutely loved. [SPOILER WARNING] In the midst of a raging storm and piratey sword fight on the deck of The Black Pearl, the recently-promoted Captains Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann assist in their own wedding ceremony with Captain Barbossa at the helm. This sort of writing is what made the first movie such a big success. Unfortunately, it was lacking throughout the entire film.

I have to call Disney down on this one. You bill Pirates as a family movie (despite the PG-13 rating), yet you display so much gore, violence, death, revenge, debauchery, and betrayal (in short, sin). I understand it's a movie about pirates and that pirates were like that. But why then do you advertise it as family fare? Where exactly are the family values in this movie?

Moviegoers, if you want to see a movie with flashy digital effects, memorable characters, and witty dialogue, At World's End is an OK choice. But pay for the matinee on a Saturday afternoon.

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