Wednesday, May 23, 2007

"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"-- *

After opening with a relatively effective, almost chilling sequence (which, it quickly becomes evident, has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the movie), “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” almost immediately devolves into what can now be considered the symbolic mascot of the majority of the “POTC” series: a festering piece of shit.

It is truly a perfect ending to the series.

I remember when back-to-back production was going on for “Dead Man’s Chest” and “At World’s End,” news began to circulate that the latter was shooting without the semblance of a finished script. Boy, does it ever show. Scenes ramble on without any end in sight, bizarre flights of fancy pop up out of nowhere (and not entertaining Gilliam-esque ones), and worst of all, incomprehensible lines of plot pile on more and more as the movie goes on. I was a bit dumbfounded when it all finally ended, since rarely have I struggled so hard to grasp what was going on in a movie so stupid.

On the way into the screening, a Disney representative handed me a letter warning THREE TIMES (in varying language) not to reveal any key plot points in my review, but they needn’t worry. For the life of me I couldn’t explain to you what takes place. Yeah I could tell you where these characters are at the end, but not how they got there.

For those who don’t know, what sets everything in motion is the return of Captain Jack (Johnny Depp) and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). That’s right moviegoers! Those characters that died earlier in the series? Gore Verbinski has pulled a Brett Ratner and brought them all back, making the significance of their deaths completely irrelevant—woooo!

Honestly (and apparently), I’m pretty much at a loss as to how to go about talking about this movie. I was contemplating just putting up a post “Yup, I hated it” but I thought I should give a little more than that. Everything that’s terrible about the second one is slightly exacerbated here, so haters of that film shouldn’t expect any better, and anyone who’s genuinely excited about this one will probably have a good time. As I’ve already explained, the three hours was near-torturous for me and I think it’s the beginning of the downfall of civilization, so make of that what you will.

Just like “Dead Man’s Chest,” “At World’s End” is the biggest and saddest waste of genuinely brilliant actors we’ll see all year. Geoffrey Rush is having some fun returning as Barbossa, though he seems to be slumming and just extending his consonants to sound “Pirate-y.” Depp, on the other hand, is a disgrace. Two short years ago, I declared that Depp deservedly received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow in the first “Pirates” film. Two films later, he’s just rehashing the same old shit, and Jack has devolved into a more irritating character than Austin Powers by the time we hit “Goldmember.” The initially brash and hilarious portrayal of Jack has slunked into predictable and barely eliciting a chuckle. He’s noticeably less gay than he was in the first film, yet he’s still making tired jokes about missing rum. *Yawn* Seemingly realizing the character has grown tired, Depp has been given free reign and allowed to do whatever he wants, which apparently includes having out-of-place, unfunny scenes of Jack hallucinating multiple varying versions of himself. Yes, in a film that’s already an hour longer than it needs to be, Verbinski found it necessary to feature scenes of Depp prancing around the screen clucking like a chicken. I’d like to be the first to petition the Academy to revoke his nomination for the first film.

Also like the last film, Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) is by far the most interesting thing on screen. The special effects are not as jaw-droppingly impressive and new this time around but they’re still astonishing and Nighy’s performance through his digital head of tentacles still manages to be a stunning piece of acting. There’s a moment where Jones wipes away a tear with one of his tentacles that’s better than anything else in the movie, both in conceptualization and execution.

Knightley and Bloom are as boring as they’ve ever been (and ever will be) so not too much to say on that front.

Chow Yun-Fat, despite much prominence in the ads, has little-to-nothing to do here except offer up a wildly offensive stereotypically-Asian manner of speaking that I can’t believe he agreed to. I kept waiting for him to offer to make everybody a small order of flied lice.

Much has been made of Keith Richard’s cameo as Jack’s father—and it’s, honestly, nothing. He’s in two short scenes, only one of which he has any dialogue and the only laughs come from his appearance which barely even elicits that since his presence in the film has been known widespread for a while now.

Though I didn’t particularly mind (I hate any “Pirates” sequel moment, action and dialogue alike), for a three hour action epic, it’s surprisingly light on action. The first two hours or so consist mostly of the characters standing around explaining the plot(s) to each other while the audience goes “whuh?” leading up to a final forty minutes of insanely mind-numbingly dull action including massive swordfights and ‘splosions in a crazy maelstrom. *Yawn* Like Disney requested, I won’t reveal the conclusions of the characters’ storylines—all I’ll say is nothing significant or notable happens with Jack, and the way Will and Elizabeth storyline concludes is just retahded. If you’re pleased with it, stay after the 10-minute long credits—we’re treated to a “10 years later” sequence. Much has been made in the ads about twists/secrets, but there’s really nothing to write home about. Certainly nothing that could be branded “shocking.”

I know this review doesn't come as a surprise to many of you. I’ve been bitching about “Dead Man’s Chest” since it came out, and haven’t been looking forward to watching the latest installment. But deep inside, I had hoped the series would close on a note that returned to the fun and excitement of the first film that I liked so much. So much for that. “At World’s End” is an astonishing mess of incoherence that, despite being rarely boring, is actually worse than the film preceding it.


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