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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean 3 ~ At World's End

When we were kids, one Summer my brother Anthony broke his leg falling out of a tree in our yard. Our mother was completely horrified, of course, but I was skeptical from the very beginning as I knew Anthony was always up to something. When he came home disappointed that the doctor wouldn’t amputate, I threatened to put cooties down his cast unless he told me what was going on.

It seems that Anthony had gone to the local movie house in Pasadena the day before and seen Disney’s
Blackbeard's Ghost and had now found his true calling in life. He wanted to be a pirate. Anthony figured if he could get the doc to cut off his leg he’d get a wooden prosthesis and then whittle it down to a tapered stick so he could become a true life peg-legged pirate. He also confided in me that he planned to visit the skanky Applegardt family that lived on the outskirts of town that everybody shunned because they were so… well, skanky, so he could hang out with their germ-ridden kids and at least get a bad case of pink-eye before school started that would require his wearing a patch over one orb. He’d even snagged a ladies’ polyester blouse with French cuffs from the local Goodwill to wear as part of his new “uniform.” At 12, I knew this would get his ten-year-old butt kicked if he ever showed up at Hillcrest Elementary in this outfit and so I did what any big sister would do. I gave him a scarf to tie around his head to complete the look.

That ten-year-old grew up to become a real pirate, a legal one, a commodities trader on Wall Street. He doesn’t wear women’s clothing (as far as I know) and he still has both of his clear blue eyes and two strong legs, but he definitely has the heart of a buccaneer. He could easily be the model for William Turner (Orlando Bloom;
Love and Other Disasters), which is at least a step above being the other starring role in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, that being Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

By now I am sure you are familiar with both Turner and Sparrow. After all, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
is the third chapter in this saga, based on the ancient amusement ride first spawned at Disneyland back in the 1950s and then spawned at all the other Disney parks around the world like a spreading case of Anthony’s would-be red-eye. This chapter alleges to be the final in a trilogy, though from the crowds I’ve seen at the Essex Cinemas over the weekend for every showing I can’t imagine producer
Jerry Bruckheimer; all the “CSI” versions on tv) won’t be tempted to dip into the well again. Anyway, a fourth installment is really not needed as Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End does its best to make sure each of the characters reaches a resolution of one sort or the other.

When we last saw Captain Jack he was swallowed alive by the Kracken, a sea beast sent by Davy Jones himself to retrieve the erstwhile sailor down to the depths where he was to pay a debt to Jones by giving up his life. As Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End begins, Will Turner and his fiancée Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley
; Domino) have gathered with a group of their comrades to ponder how to find and rescue Sparrow from the Otherworld and Davy Jones’ clutches. The one man capable of the job is also Sparrow’s worst enemy, Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush; Munich), the very pirate Jack stole his ship The Black Pearl from in the original film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl . Is this beginning to sound as convoluted as a storyline from “Days of our Lives”? Just wait. It gets worse.

Barbossa explains that the only way to get to the Otherworld is to sail to the end of the world, and to do so they will need charts to get there, which are being held in Singapore by the dreaded Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat; Curse of the Golden Flower). Apparently there is magic and the supernatural galore in Pirate World but no www.mapquest.com, so the next thing you know, the Caribbean setting is traded in for the Orient and sword fights are mixed with martial arts and a lot of hooey before the crew moves on again, this time into the frigid waters of the Antarctic with the directions they need.

Eventually, of course, they do find Jack, but not before we are treated to some hysterically funny bits with Depp on board the Black Pearl, now crewed by delusional versions of him. As if one Jack Sparrow wasn’t silly enough, the sudden arrival of six or seven is almost too much of a good thing.

Enchantment and mayhem drive the entire second half of this three-hour tour (yes, it really is a three hour movie, but, thankfully, it is 100% Gilligan-free). There are great special effects as always, and the make-up and CGI that create the sea-people who inhabit Davy Jones’ world are remarkable. Jones himself is a fascinating character to study from a technical standpoint as his
head is a constant moving mass of tentacles since his skull is a living octopus with a humanoid face attached. Actor Bill Nighy;
Flushed Away) infuses real heart into the character who, ironically, exists without one as his heart has been stolen away in a wooden chest where he must keep it protected at all times so it will not be destroyed (because if it is then he will die). Shades of Hans Christian Andersen! The sea goddess Calypso also makes a surprise appearance at one point and shows up with the worst case of crabs ever, which will have you squirming in your seat and itching for her to leave. But the cleverest cameo required little make-up and gets the biggest chuckles. During a conclave of all the pirate captains from across the seven seas, the Pirate King himself shows up ~ none other than aged Rolling Stones rocker Keith Richards as Captain Teague, who bears a striking resemblance to Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow.

The action in the last hour of
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is cruelly non-stop. I say “cruelly” because after two full hours of sucking down a gi-normous Diet Pepsi you’ll want to zip on down to the rest room for relief, but you just know you can’t because you are going to miss something too cool for words if you do. And you will. Everything you could hope to see happen in the last hour happens. There is the absolute best wedding you’ll ever see anywhere, ever in your life (I swear even the men will love it), there’s more swordplay than you’d see in twenty Erroll Flynn movies, and there’s enough explosions to put Bruce Willis into a sugar coma of happiness.

By the film’s end most of the characters have gotten what they deserved, good or bad, but one relationship remains in question and those leaving the theater the second the credits roll are going to miss a beautifully shot scene after the credits end that is the most touching and “real” of the whole series and answers any lingering thoughts one might have about the movie’s lovers.

I called Anthony on Saturday in New York to ask if he had gone yet to see
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. He told me he was planning to take his twins later today. I’m sure Long John and Calico Jack will love it. I just hope Anthony leaves their swords at home. You probably ought to as well.


Anonymous said...

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is one of the best movies I have seen.
And "BOOM!!... that's my peanut!" and " nobody move.... I've dropped my brain"

Freddie Sirmans said...

Just browsing the net, very interesting.

patrick said...

The first Pirates of the Caribbean was great in every way, the best part of the other two was the special effects… the question now is, if they come out with a fourth, will it maintain the quality of the first?