I despised the first Pirates film, and hated the 2nd one so much that I kind of walked out on it. I mean kind of, because I had my niece and nephew with me so I couldn't leave the theater, so I sat in on Superboreman Returns for 45 minutes, when I went back into the theater, they were still on that stupid Island. breaks the trilogy doldrums by being far superior to the first two installments. Normally this wouldn't mean anything since I already stated how much I loathed the first two films.
Why did I like At World's End so much? I really can't put it into words, it's big, bold, audacious and minimizes a lot of the things that I hated about the first two films. The goofy gory, slimy elements are kept to a minimum, there's less of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) a character I can't stand – I never got why so many people rave about this character, I find him irritating, obnoxious, fake, too over the top – and yes, I realize that's the point. Not as much Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and his horror crew, a lot more Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley). Just the right amount of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) story is more grounded in reality – although there are several story threads that are introduced midway through with incredibly lame payoffs.
You notice I've been avoiding giving you the tedious plot summary, so let me try and explain it. When we left off with the incredibly awful and convoluted 2nd film, Captain Jack Sparrow had given his life to the Krakken in order to save his ship and crew. Pirates opens with Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) hunting down and killing all the pirates. They are running scared their only solution is to convene all 9 Pirate Lords to discuss options, which includes possibly going to war. The only problem is Sparrow is one of the 9 Lords and he didn't pass his lordship along before he died. So Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and the crew have to somehow go to the land of the dead to bring Sparrow back from the living.
Before they do that, they need to get a ship so they have to reach out to the Chinese Pirate Lord, Captain Sao Feng (Yun-Fat Chow) who is just a tad upset at Barbossa because believes that Turner was sent to steal a valuable map. Don’t worry this summary only takes up the first 30 minutes of the nearly 3 hr film. The first 30 – 40 minutes of the film are fantastic and sucks you in immediately. The pacing is frenetic, the opening sequence pretty darn amazing – not from an action standpoint, but how beautiful it looks while at the same time having a certain emotional weight to it. Remember, I walked in with the idea that I was going to walk out if the first hour was as bad as the last two films.
All the momentum built by the first 30 – 40 minutes come to a crashing halt when we finally get to Sparrow in the hereafter. It was incredibly stupid, boring, lame, and slow. But unlike the last two films, this time Director Gore Verbinski didn't linger long on the scene, he's actually rather, mercifully, abrupt with it. And this is why Pirates 3 really works. While the film is nearly 3 hrs, it's paced just right, and Verbinski has taken 3 films to learn how and where to trim and how to explain the plot and all the various inevitable betrayals. Granted there are about 30 – 40 minutes that could have easily been cut – the entire pointless subplot about Barbossa's plan to unleash the water goddess, the entire stuff with the Pirates meeting, Keith Richard's brief guest spot, and a few other things.
The film looks gorgeous; this is one of those movies where you can see its entire budget laid out before you onscreen. The sets are stunning, the water looks beautiful and the framing of all the shots gives the film a sense of grand scale. From little things like the sweeping vista of Sparrow, Barbossa, and Swann walking down a beach to the final ship to ship battle all looked amazing.
I'm just amazed by how much I liked this film. I once stated that "I'd rather gouge my eyes out than sit through another Pirates movie," I'm glad to say that my eyes are still intact and have never been clearer.
Final Grade A-
EM Review by
Originally posted 5/25/07