Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Does he plan it all out, or just make it up as he goes along?

So wonders an admiring British officer after yet another of those insane Jack Sparrow escapades that leave him, improbably, out of harm’s way (for the moment) and at an advantage over his rivals. With Sparrow, one really couldn’t be sure.

On the other hand, with the screenwriter(s) of the three Pirates movies, you could be 100% sure: they made it up as they went along. My guess is, they sat down each day and wrote three scenes or so, and didn’t really worry about whether or not they could remember what they wrote the previous day. After it was all done, they might’ve spent, oh, about half an hour or so tying up a few loose ends. The entire process being lubricated with vast quantities of rum (yo-ho-ho and all that jazz), of course.

Not that this amounts to a criticism of the movie, really. If you’ve seen Gore Verbinski’s The Mexican or the first Pirates movie, you already know that to expect narrative discipline is an exercise in futility: just enjoy each moment and don’t worry about how it adds up, or how long it takes. To his credit, the guy knows how to make a movie look visually appealing, and he knows how to make each scene play well enough to keep you interested. Which is essentially what saves this gloriously shot and acted mess called POTC:AWE.

Johnny Depp is as good as ever: who else can carry off a line like “Can we just ignore that she is a woman scorned, the fury the likes of which hell hath no?” And then there’s the little pleasure of having watched Jack Sparrow’s spiritual father (Keith Richards) play his real one. Kiera Knightley and Orlando Bloom do their shtick – they do it well, but it’s not high wattage, and I suppose they know that they’re not what makes the movie tick. Geoffrey Rush brings a marginally kinder, gentler version of Barbossa to the screen in this installment – not surprising, given how many other Part 3s this year have resorted to Karan Johar-esque screenplays.

On balance, I’m not entirely sure if I’d recommend this movie. It’s an overlong, unedited, and mostly senseless. But if you can look past that flaw, it does entertain. Hey, if you’ve watched David Dhawan, I don’t see why you should thumb your nose up at this one.

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