Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

I admit that I did not watch the first Pirates movie very closely. I cannot recall any of the second film. So, one-quarter of the way through the latest Pirates film, particularly in the scenes with Johnny Depp and the ship in the desert, I turned to my wife and friends and asked, “What am I missing? I don’t get this.” Sadly, they couldn’t help me and it wasn’t their fault.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is a visually stunning film. I give it high marks for its artistic magnificence. Unfortunately, it lacks the storytelling to match its spectacle. It is a disjointed adventure tale that seems to jump from one bizarre predicament to the next without any consistent plot. I felt as though we were supposed to be entertained by the egoistic posing and preening of the characters and stars. Captain Jack Sparrow and his clones proved it for me. The filmmaker’s formula seems to be “Give ‘em all the Captain Jack they stand!”

Yet, what did any of us expect from a movie series that was based on an unimpressive ride at Disney’s famous amusement park? I recall our family trip to Disneyworld in 1998. Before the Pirate’s movie one could walk right up and board the Pirates of the Caribbean ride without a wait. (The only ride that had a shorter line was this circa-1979 “Vision of Tomorrow” diorama-conveyor belt show at EPCOT. It was boring, but it was air conditioned. We rode it five times in a row.)

I am trying to redeem my viewing of Pirates and derive some sort of philosophical, moral, or spiritual message from it. I could try and wax eloquent on its vision of the afterlife or its theme of self-sacrifice, but that would be disingenuous. The truth is I spent most of the movie wondering when Keith Richards would make his cameo.

If you loved the movie I can understand why. It's a lot of fun -even if it has no plot. If you are a Johnny Depp or Orlando Bloom groupie, then you certainly must love this film. Personally, I liked the monkey better than any other character and watching him get shot out of the canon is worth the price of admission. Alas, I wish I had had a TiVo to rewind it and watch it again.
I am convinced that At World's End is the end of the Pirates series. Yet there's more "booty" to plunder from the fans and the set up for a fourth movie is all there. I do not plan to see it - unless of course they shoot that monkey from a canon again!