Quick Hit: A movie that is beginning to falter under the weight of its special effects and its plotlines.
As At World’s End opens, Jack is dead, and we are transported into a world where suddenly Barbossa is back and has a rapport with Will and Elizabeth. It’s not necessarily a friendly, loving one, but it’s there. It makes you wonder how much time has passed between the films. Certainly we are opened on what is the most dreary scenes in all the Pirate films – the scene of a boy on the gallows, moments before his death, singing the song of a Pirate’s life. Yikes. But, the scene does set the stage for showing that some time has passed, and we are in a radically different world.
Unfortunately, we’re also in a radically different movie. First off, there is some stuff that is supposed to be funny that just comes off as really, really strange. Like… all the Depp stuff. His Jack Sparrow performance is starting to show some cracks now, and in my opinion, this is where Bill Nighy’s Davy Jones and Geoffrey Rush’s Barbossa really take over. They become the stars, and Sparrow becomes the comedic relief. That’s because, in a sense, Jack’s played out most of the cards he has – the film feels less about him, and more about Will’s journey to rescue his father.
Speaking of his father, that’s another creepy scene. When Will’s father removes himself from the wall, constantly whispering “Part of the ship, part of the crew,” and then proceeds to whisper “William!” in the recognizable tone of someone in early onset dementia, it’s both heart wrenching and scary. I feel like in lieu of having a plot that contained elements of a full story, instead, the director, writers, and all those involved doubled down on some of creepiness that is present in the story.
Along with that, there is just no telling the amount of characters that get shafted to the side by the script for most of the film – aka all the other Pirate Captains, all of which are stereotyped beyond belief. And don’t even get me started about the Keith Richards cameo.
I think At World’s End shows how bloated a series can become when you throw all the money in the world at it. Sometimes, it’s easier to just let movies come down. That the movie isn’t a complete loss is a testament to its most interesting characters, Barbossa and Jones. And they alone cause it to be a “C-“.
Halfway through DFP fans! See you the next two days!
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
Quick Hit – Fun, with a terrific set of antogonists, you slowly start to feel a bit overwhelmed by it all.
From the start of this film, you know that you are back in the world we left in the last one. It doesn’t take long for new characters to be introduced, and it’s extremely easy to hate them. First, there is Lord Beckitt (played by Tom Hollander), who it’s clear is as evil as it gets. He’s had run-ins with Jack Sparrow before (though this isn’t fully explained). There’s also Davy Jones (played terrifically by Bill Nighy), a creature straight from the depths of the sea, who has now taken to searching for Jack in order to fulfill a bargain they once had.
All of this is delivered in the typical manic style of the Pirates series. There are so many Rube Goldbergian type activities in the fight scenes (specifically on the scene on the island) that you’re head starts to spin. However, Verbinski once again shows the ability to pivot between these scenes and some of the quieter ones. I wouldn’t say that the skill is as pronounced as the last film, and at times, we may get caught up in the score and the slap-stick action and just allow the wheel to roll.
Still focusing on the story of Will and Elizabeth, we start to see some cracks form. That’s because Will is now after rescueing his father, Bootstrap Bill (Stellan Skarsgård). There’s nothing wrong with the storyline, and Skarsgård turns in a fantastically creepy yet moving performance. It’s just that everything makes things feel overstuffed. There are so many storylines, and only some of them are interesting. I for one find the story of Jones most interesting – I want to know more about his backstory instantly, and Nighy sells the scare factor. The effects are amazing, with Jones using the tentacles as other appendages in a completely natural way.
The main selling point for the film continues to be Depp, with Sparrow always being a welcome breath of fresh air every time he is on screen. His humor and delivery is incredibly on point, and never once do you seem bored by him. The originality continues throughout the film, even to the point of his final demise with the Kraken.
That being said, I didn’t really like the total feel of this one. I found out while doing research that POC2 and POC3 were shot back to back, and that makes complete sense. It feels like this film is trying to do all the work of setting up a Pirates cinematic universe – it’s tying itself back to the first film, but it’s also trying to get the base for a third film. It makes things confusing, and means character storylines that could be much better (Lord Beckitt and Norrington) feel a bit extraneous.
Overall, Dead Man’s Chest was a nice addition to the franchise, in that it introduced characters like Davy Jones who are worth remembering. But, it suffers from being the bridging film in a trilogy, and that’s why it is only going to get a “B-“ from me.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
Quick Hit – The way it all began, with terrific acting between Depp and Rush, as well as incredibly original characters, and a skilled pivoting between the moments that matter.
Welcome to week two of Pirates Week here at DoubleFeaturePreachers! This week is all about the Pirates of the Caribbean series. I’ll do my best to avoid stating the same things over and over, but I can only promise so much – the good parts tend to hold true, and the bad ones tend to be repeated. Without further ado (or rambling by me), I’ll go forth with the first movie: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Interestingly enough, this movie starts with (for me at least) the introduction of some of the least interesting characters in the series, Elizabeth Swann and William Turner. It is evident there is so much more going on in this world, and we are nearly immediately treated to the entrance of Jack Sparrow (ahem, excuse me, Captain Jack Sparrow). Johnny Depp is an absolute wonder. So many parts of Jack Sparrow may have come back to haunt other characters in other film series (I’m looking at you Hatter), but here, the freshness of the creation of a character reminds us all why Tim Burton keeps using Depp in his films. There is a creativity that is evident in the characters every slur, movement, and subtle wink at the other characters (as well as the audience). He’s a pirate that we have never seen, so far removed from Errol Flynn, that it would seem almost as if he was descretating the memory of the pirates that have come before him… but it’s obviously not that. Instead, it’s a loving, comedic tribute.
As the plot hurtles along, we’re allowed just enough time to breath in between scenes of debauchery and backstabbing. Gore Verbinski is terrific at knowing just when we’ve had enough of the boring scenes to throw in another sword fight with an undead Pirate. The effects here, though showing some slight age after ten years, are still enough that you get a chill when you see the first images of the undead deck mates, toiling incessantly. And Barbossa’s introduction to the world, “You’re in one!” is terrific.
Speaking of Barbossa, if there is one character that could rival Depp’s Sparrow, it’s Geoffrey Rush’s Barbosa. Filled with near camp but always respect, Captain Barbossa is a real treat to watch, and it’s because of Rush’s performance. Rarely straying into Depp’s spotlight, but often times stealing the show, Captain Hector Barbossa (and his trusted undead monkey Jack) have a comraderie with all the characters, even the good ones, that few seem to have. That leads to the scene that I consider to be the most fun – the undead battle scene between Depp and Rush. It almost feels Shakespearean with Rush’s delivery of lines, and Depp’s comedic quips back to him.
The side characters are a lot of fun too. First, there is Norrington, who you just can’t help but feel sorry for because you know that he is fighting a losing battle. Kevin McNally’s Joshamee Gibbs is perfect comedic relief as well. Then there are twin dunces on each side, with the two pirates and the two soldiers that you can only hope got paid enough for their lines, because they were well deserving of praise.
I think one of my final things I want to touch on is how masterfully some of the sword fights are handled. Though they may not approach the mastery of a scene like the one in The Princess Bride, the first fight between Turner and Sparrow within the blacksmith’s shop is exhilarating and fun. Everything is a prop, and everything is a stage, and both Depp and Bloom sell it masterfully. You can see Bloom’s experience with the LOTR series here, as he seems extremely comfortable with the fighting.
Overall, I don’t think you could ask much more from a film. Though it may not leave you with a deeper meaning, it’ll leave you with a set of entertainment that you cannot forget. I’m going to give the original Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl an “A-“. Savvy?
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"