Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Pirates Of The Caribbean - At World’s End


Depp-reciating Returns

Pirates Of The Caribbean
At World’s End

USA 2007 Directed by Gore Verbinski
Disney Blu Ray Zone B


Wow... this is not a good movie. I’m kinda surprised this one got the box office it did after the second movie was not so great. You’d think it would be a case of once bitten, twice shy but, then again, in order to get good box office, Hollywood relies on repeat viewings of a film from the same audience... I just can’t imagine anyone wanting to watch this thing again after they’ve just had to sit through the interminably long (almost three hours) running time of Pirates Of The Caribbean - At Worlds End.

To be fair, there are one or two good moments in this but they all seem to be front loaded within the first half an hour. The film opens strongly with what can only be described as a musical number set to a hanging. The song a little boy sings before he is executed with various other pirates is a nice opening set piece from Hans Zimmer and it’s quite striking but, the reason for the song and the comments made by onlookers makes absolutely no sense and it’s only briefly touched upon later in the most vague and confusing way. In other words, it’s a completely pointless scene which, honestly, works very well as such but, for some reason, the filmmakers try to justify its inclusion into the narrative space of the film (you wouldn’t catch someone like Fellini trying to rationalise what he wanted to do like this) and this kind of dilutes the effectiveness of the scene to some extent. Throwing in a sense of logic where none is required (film is art and art doesn’t have to mirror reality, people!).

This is followed by another strong sequence of stealth followed by action as the various pirate crew members from the last movie team up with the newly resurrected Captain Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) and go to Singapore, to the stronghold of infamous pirate villain Sao Feng (played by Asian superstar Chow Yun-Fat) to retrieve a map to a place in the afterlife. This is a pretty promising sequence which, maybe, loses something on home video but I remember it being quite a spectacle at the cinema. And then we get some assorted plot snippets thrown into the mix as Keira Knightley’s Elisabeth Swann and Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner, plus assorted regulars, go off to find Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow in order to bring him back from his own, personal space in Hell.

And, surprisingly, this is where this film suddenly falls flat. I find it ironic that the original, classic Pirates Of The Caribbean movie (reviewed here) only came alive once Johnny Depp made his memorable entrance but this time around, the whole first half an hour of the movie, which is Depp-less, is the strongest part of the film. Things really begin to flag by the time Jack Sparrow is introduced... in a curiously surreal but bewilderingly boring sequence with multiple versions of the character occupying the same space. I don’t know why the film never really recovers from here on out but I understand the script was still incomplete when filming commenced on this one so, yeah, maybe not the most ideal conditions to make a piece of movie art under, for sure.

Once again there are strange creatures at large (most of them seen in the last film, as the Flying Dutchman and its crew return to add drama to the proceedings) and big set pieces with cannons and crossed swords but, without really having any good filler for the calm moments to allow contrast and highlight the ferocity of the action sequences (not to mention the confusing editing in these scenes) the whole swashbuckling yarn seems a bit bland and... well... less swashing and more ‘let’s all go and have a sleep on the sofa until this monstrosity of a movie passes by’ it seemed to me.

The one ray of light in this film comes in the form of Hans Zimmer’s excellent score. Using the same musical language of the previous installments we have some cracking tunes that, while ultimately failing to break through the lethargy of the finished product, does at least support this bloated behemoth appropriately and, to boot, is an enjoyable stand alone listen away from the movie. Of special note, asides from the opening song (which is curiously truncated on the CD soundtrack) we have a stand out piece of score which Zimmer excerpts in his live concerts for the scene where Jack gets everyone to topple his ship upside down, called Up Is Down on the accompanying soundtrack album. It’s moments like this which, at least, had me tapping my feet along to the music while I tried to find something visually interesting on the director’s canvass.

And there you have it. An extremely short review for a movie that, as far as I’m concerned, joins its sequels in proving that the original film was a bit of a fluke in terms of being a truly great movie (although I also liked Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger, against all the odds, which I reviewed here). Honestly, though, I can’t really recommend any of these films to a movie lover barring the first one and, by this third go round, it really did seem like all involved were flogging a dead sea turtle, truth be told.

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