Thursday, April 29, 2010

Archive: "Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End" (2007)

This franchise is quite the tricky piece of work because "At World's End" concludes well enough to the point that this very well could be the last we'll be seeing of these pirates, but it is uncertain if this will actually be the case. Most likely not because there are still enough loose ends not tied up that could easily branch off into yet another adventure. And make sure to stay for the credits because there's a teaser at the end that hints even more at the possibility of a fourth. Personally, I think this latest movie ends the series sufficiently and provides an opportune time to hang up the old eye patch and finally put these pirates to rest once and for all. Jack Sparrow looks like he could use the break.

The crew we've all become so familiar with in the previous two films is back and this time around, we feel like we know exactly what they are thinking. This time everybody gets right down to business as they travel to literally the ends of the earth, covered in salt water, sweat, and grime. The triumphant return of Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa is fantastic as he tromps around with his trademark cackle. Keira Knightley as the lovely Elizabeth Swann transforms into a fierce woman, and there's a surprisingly large amount of her as she pretty much takes charge for a good portion of the movie even to the point of becoming king of the pirates. Then there's the frankly quite plain Orlando Bloom as William Turner who, luckily, doesn't actually have too much of a role until later on, which is a relief. Bill Nighy also returns as the tentacle-faced Davy Jones, who is still just as threatening, and even heartbreaking, as before. Chow Yun-Fat is also introduced as Sao Feng, another pirate leader in a strange Singapore.

And then there's of course Johnny Depp returning as Jack Sparrow, who got taken away, along with the Black Pearl, into the depths of Davy Jones' locker. In case one is not enough, there are multiple Jack Sparrows this time, in a sort of "Being John Malkovich" sense. The locker is a strange, desolate desert where Sparrow basically loses his mind, and ends up fighting with himself over a peanut. Even when Sparrow is saved from the locker by his faithful crew (now teamed up with Barbossa), the multiple Sparrows still make their return inside his screwed up mind. It's some crazy stuff, and all the more fitting to have a special cameo by Keith Richards (who already looks dead without any makeup on) as Jack Sparrow's father; we're not actually told that, but it's assumable enough. And so, Captain Jack is back with the rest of the crew, swinging his arms around, running like a girl, being as sexually confusing as ever, and all the more hysterical for it.

Sparrow, along with everybody else, gets caught up in different agendas of people with contrasting motives. Everybody has their own idea of what needs to be done, and each one of them has a moment of triumph, revelation, and resolve. This is definitely one swashbuckling flick that doesn't skimp on the plot lines; like "Dead Man's Chest," there's so much going on that it starts to veer off the course of logic. I only had a vague understanding of what the characters were even talking about half the time, but that's perfectly fine. There are too many pressing questions here to ever fault this blatant convolution: Will the sea goddess Calypso, once released from her human form, wreak havoc? Will Elizabeth and Will finally stop having so much tension and just exclaim their love to one another? What will happen to Davy Jones' broken heart? However can Will free his father-turned-barnacle from the clutches of the Flying Dutchman? And to think that's only the beginning of it.

It is confusing, but then again, what does it matter? It's hard to care when all the stuff is talked about in thick accents. What really matters is the action, the thrills, and those chuckle-worthy one-liners. After Will, Elizabeth, and Barbossa rescue Jack, they all team up to take down the ruthless Lord Cutler Beckett who has taken control of Davy Jones' Flying Dutchman. At a very colorful and diverse meeting with a group called the Nine Lords of the Brethren Court, all the pirate leaders around the world devise a way to take down Beckett and Davy Jones. This one scene shows the time put into this movie in terms of capturing the feel of a real pirate adventure; the costumes, the makeup, and the talk all fits. Standing amongst this crowd is Knightley, Depp, and Rush. These talented actors have put their best efforts into these films, and in doing so, they have created iconic pirate characters that will not be soon forgotten.

Clocking in at nearly 3 hours, the peak of this massively convoluted pirate epic does take a while to finally reach, but it is worth the wait. The exciting, sword-fighting climax brings back the exhilaration of the high-seas action in "The Curse of the Black Pearl." It's a swirl of torrential rains, clashing metal, and exploding cannons. This really great near-final quarter of the movie makes up for a sometimes slow first half. And even when the plot fails to deliver, you're too distracted by Johnny Depp's antics, the swashbuckling banter, and of course, the dazzling visuals and the explosive action sequences. Director Gore Verbinski has created one of the most amazing mixes of live-action and CGI animation. When a ship falls off the edge of a never-ending waterfall or literally rises up from the sea, or when human pirates are battling against half-sea-men, it's visually impressive and simply magnificent.

I walked out of "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" not disappointed like I thought I might've been. What sets this one apart from "Dead Man's Chest" is that it actually ends. Sure it's a bit too long, but the length is almost necessary in order to make a massive final statement and to close the trilogy for good...provided it stays a trilogy. Nevertheless, even if there is another, I can have satisfaction in saying that at least it could end here. This is the first big blockbuster of the summer, and a worthy one at that. This is great stuff, and exactly the thing we need to kick off the summer movie season.

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