Sunday 8 July 2007


Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) dir. Gore Verbinski
Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightly


I finally had a chance to see “Pirates of the Caribbean”. I didn’t much care for the first one, and didn’t really understand the academy award nomination for Johnny Depp as Capt Jack Sparrow, but whatever. The second one I enjoyed more because of its happy-go-lucky sense of fun. This third one is the “Matrix Revolutions” of the series - the obligatory trilogy-ending yawn fest. Can we put this franchise to rest now?

The plot is incomprehensible. Even though it links up with part two and part one (and I’ve seen both) it’s still a complete mystery. But since kids all around the world continue to show up in droves on its way to making almost a billion dollars maybe I’m the slow one. I’ll attempt to explain: Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightly) Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) have ventured to Singapore to kindly ask Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat) for a boat and a crew to find Captain Sparrow.

Remember Jack Sparrow was eaten by the Kraken in part II but somehow he’s lived on in some sort of dream/nightmare aboard the Black Pearl. Somehow Sparrow meets up with Turner and the bunch in this purgatory land of psychedelic dreams and then escape back into the real world using a secret code hidden in their map.

Meanwhile somehow the British Navy led by Lord Beckett and the newly-employed Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and his Flying Dutchman boat have been following the good guys in hopes of finding the legendary ‘Pieces of Eight’ owned by the Brethren of Pirates – kind of like the Teamsters of Pirates. This is the first 20 mins. The rest is just a blur. Once the boat flipped over I the water into another earth, (or was it the old earth?) I just tuned out.

I admire Gore Verbinski’s wacky humour and quirky action sequences - PS. Don’t forget to watch “Mousetrap” to see Verbinski’s earliest work – click HERE for my review). He uses real locations, real sets and real props, however big and cumbersome production-wise, to bring authenticity to these films. And the action certainly works well. The highlight for me was the rocking of the boat sequence – a great blend of action and comedy. But for a swashbuckling picture the sword fights always needed work. Nothing in any of the Pirates films can stand up to the swordplay of the Michael Curtiz/Errol Flynn/Basil Rathbone adventures – “The Adventures of Robin Hood”, “Captain Blood” and “The Sea Hawk.” That’s still the benchmark.

The design of Davy Jones’s octopus-meets-lobster makeup and special effects are still astounding. Whenever he’s on screen I could only marvel at the detail and skilled craftsmanship of the character. And Bill Nighy also plays him great effervescent glee.

I found the making of Part II, “Dead Man’s Chest”, on the DVD special features to be more entertaining than the second film. The location work on the film seems like an arduous journey for a crew of hundreds to make. To devote a year to making the last two films back to back is insane. But I imagine a familial atmosphere developed with the cast and crew. The chemistry of the actors on screen is evident.

The curiosity of a Part III to finish off the trilogy will likely draw you in to watch it. And perhaps if viewed in sequence the plot would be understandable, but, as an adult, do you really have seven and half hours to give away? Caveat emptor.

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