A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 8 – Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

New view for me! I was kind of dreading this at the start, given last night’s blah, but I found myself really enjoying this one. I credit that to the fact that despite the impressive amount of backstabbing and double crossing that goes on, the movie is a far more cohesive piece than the second one was. And believe me, there’s a lot of double crossing. Triple and quadruple crossing too. You practically need a flow chart at points to make sure you know who’s on whose side. Except Jack, who’s on Jack’s side.

Which is easy in this movie, since it seems some producer went “How can we cram more Jack Sparrow into the last movie? I know! He can hallucinate duplicates of himself! We’ll have tons of Jacks! More Jacks means more money!” And then they went and cast Keith Richards as his father and made the point moot.

Anyhow, I’ve definitely got some complaints, like the cultural caricatures that seem to come hand in hand with a period pirate piece and remind me far too much of the Swallows and Amazons book I tell everyone to NOT read (that would be Missee Lee, which is understandable but not forgivable given that the author was a British dude writing in the 1930s). But enough about books. Another complaint would be how two major characters ended their roles in the movie. While I’m not necessarily unhappy with the choice Norrington made at the end, I’m really not thrilled with how perfunctory his exit from the movie was. And for all the fuss made about Calypso and her getting free, she sure vanished in a hurry, didn’t she? Meh.

But there’s a lot more to like. For instance, I like the swordfighting scenes, which were fantastic and didn’t drag on even though they did go for a while. I like Elizabeth. A lot. And I like her character arc and that while she has moments of weakness, they’re no more weak than the moments other characters have. Her comment about having quite enough experience with pirates is a good point for her to make. She’s not some delicate waif, carried along with the crew on a liter. She got hurt and she got dirty and she got into the action. And they didn’t ever take her out of it. I give the movie, and the entire trilogy, enormous credit for that. I also like Will’s almost Methosian levels of duplicity and deceit here. And for those unfamiliar with the character of Methos, I apologize. But given that I’m a Highlander series fan first and foremost, I’ll probably end up referencing him a lot. And all you need to know is that he’s a crafty bastard whose priority is on survival. I’d have pegged Jack as that type more than Will, but Will definitely drifts that way for most of the movie.

What I like most though, is how steeped the movie is in its own folklore and history and the world it’s created on and in the ocean and the lives of its characters. I love the sea. I love it with a passion. I grew up near the ocean and I hate being away from it. So the end-of-an-era mood this movie starts with, and the idea of taming the sea, then releasing its power, the special effects (especially the whirlpool) and the makings-of-a-sea-chanty quality to it make it endearing to me. It makes me want to put on The Jolly Sailor or The Lover’s Return (I’ve copied lyrics below) and go dip my toes in the waves and remember what it was like to sleep at sea.

But that’s a lot more than I’m sure the movie intended.

Tomorrow night we’re celebrating Kathryn Bigelow’s awesome directorial Oscar by watching Strange Days.

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March 8, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

March 8, 2010

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

So finally here we are at the end of the trilogy.  This movie takes a while to get going because they spend about the first quarter of the film trying to rescue Han from the clutches of the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt.  I mean.. rescue Jack from the clutches of .. being dead.  Really there is a LOT of faffing about before getting to the meat of the movie.  They first need to introduce Chow Yun-Fat (chewing huge amount of scenery) as Sao Feng.. one of the nine Pirate Lords – a group of pirates we’ve never heard of before now who are tied up in a deeper mythology involving Davy Jones and the goddess of the sea – Calypso.  Then they need to find a way to get charts from him that lead to the land beyond the end of the world where lies Davy Jones’ Locker.  Then they need to find Jack (who is even more mad than usual at this point) and then find a way back to the world of the living before they can explore the whole Calypso mythology.

I actually do like this movie once it gets moving.  And it’s because of that mythology.  I love a story that goes deep into the past.  All the betrayals upon betrayals and plot twists upon plot twists are just flotsam on the tide of the true story.  By which I mean: the movie as a whole is a mess.  People stab each other in the backs so frequently that by then end pretty much everybody has betrayed everybody else at least once.  Nobody seems to really know what they’re doing as the movie staggers from plot point to plot point.  But it’s all in service of delivering a rousing conclusion that delivers closure on about every level.

I even forgive the second movie for being, well, a second movie, because it sets up so much of what has to be delivered here.

It just takes so long to get moving.  They could cut the entire first half of the film and it would work just about as well.  And they take the coolest thing from the second movie (the Kraken) and relegate it to an ignoble off-screen death.  I suppose this does a great job of ramming home the dire circumstances of what will become of the world if Beckett and his ilk win the coming confrontation.  But at that point Beckett has already started hanging children just to get the Pirate Lords to show themselves, and his henchmen has caused another ignoble off screen death, so we already know he’s evil incarnate.  You don’t have to kill the Kraken, dammit.  We never even got to see it.. so sad.  Still, it is mostly made up for by all the things in the movie that I do enjoy.

And there are a lot of things to enjoy about this movie.  Like Keith Richards.  Like the climactic final sea battle.  Like the rest of the Pirate Lords (who remind me somewhat of a piratey Evil League of Evil.)  Like that great bit after the credits.  (Remember what I said about leaving before the credits are done folks?)  And like all the very large helpings we get of Jack Sparrow.

I think things come to a quite satisfactory conclusion.. and I hope nobody tries to muck with it by trying to tack on yet another movie.

March 8, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment