Why couldn’t I have just boarded the ride instead?
After the last film took 2-and-a-half hours to get to no conclusion whatsoever, we once again follow-up with our heroes Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) as they venture out on a quest to free Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Sparrow, in case you may not know this, made a deal with the devil, or should I say, The Flying Dutchman and Davy Jones (Bill Nighy). However, there’s more here than just that. Apparently everybody has their own demons to fight through and once you add the loser-government into the equation (lead by Tom Hollander), then hell is going to break loose. Oh, and apparently a Chinese pirate named Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat) has something to do with this story as well. Whatever that actually may be, I still do not know the answer to.
No matter how much trash this franchise gets, I’ve always been there supporting the hell out of these Pirates movies. I honestly could not give you a clear-reason as to why: maybe it’s because I saw the first one and loved it as a kid; maybe it’s because I went on the ride as a kid, only to see the movie the next year it came out; or maybe it’s because I’m a huge Keith Richards and Johnny Depp fan, and put together, then it’s just sex-at-the-cinemas for me? Whatever the cock-hold reason may be, I still find myself cheering for these movies, enjoying myself while watching them, and always going to bat for them, even as everybody tells me the same old excuses as to how they’re too long, boring, or tedious. And needless to say, after seeing this for the 3rd time; I have to say that they’re right, but also wrong as well.
What? You didn’t actually think I was going to give up the battle that easily, did ya? I’m still reeling for my pirates, even if they do overstay their welcome by about two-and-a-half hours.
Seriously man, this movie is way, way too fucking long and it almost never seems to end. After the movie starts off impressive with just the right air of mystery, intrigue, suspense, and action going on, the movie begins to get more and more bogged-down by unneeded subplots, love-triangles, exposition, and maps that are supposed to mean something and lead somewhere, but only serve as a plot-device to get every character in the movie to meet-up together in the end. And say what you will about the first one: at least it had a swashbuckling bit of a fun with itself, especially when it wasn’t taking-on needless myths and background stories to support all of the crazy shite these characters were getting involved in. Hell, even the second one, as long and over-stuffed as it may have been, was still fun and made you feel like all of the wait and suspense was worth it, especially once the last-act, slam-bang finale came in. Here, the movie makes you feel like you’ve been waiting forever, only to have you realize that you’re not even half-way through. You still have about an hour-and-a-half left to go, and you still have no idea what the fuck is going on.
That’s where I think Gore Verbinski really screwed the pooch with this movie: his pacing. The movie starts, and then it stops, and does the simple task of rinsing-and-repeating. It works for the first hour because you like these characters and this action enough to give it the benefit of the doubt, but once it gets past that hour-mark and you realize that you have a lot more on your hands than you actually took in, then you might start to get a little pissed, as did I, and this is coming from a person who’s seen this movie about three times by now. It never gets old to watch the movie, but next time I feel like watching this, I think I’m just going to go for the last 40 minutes, because that’s all that’s worth watching in this movie.
Man, I’d even say that the last 40 minutes of this flick is the only reason to even see this thing, especially considering how fun, epic, dark, and exciting it truly is. Verbinski takes his damn time getting to where the story needs to go and even though I’m still a bit left in the dark as to how the movie got where it did by the end and why, I still don’t care because it’s so much fun to watch, always offering something new to get a glimpse at again and again. Verbinski obviously took his budget into some serious-thought and shows us what he’s been up to, making “the most expensive movie ever made”. It’s as perfect as you were going to get back in the summer of ’07 and it’s a real shame for Disney and Verbinski that it wasn’t 3D when it first came out, or else this movie would have committed a mass-slaying at the box office. Seriously, it probably would still be making money, even to this day.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a ridiculous statement to make, but I think most of you out there smell what I’m trying to sell. The fact is that Verbinski knows exactly what he wants to do with all of the CGI and special-effects that he has packed into here, and it becomes less of a clutter of pretty-images, and more of a visual-feast that was deserved to be seen on the big-screen, as I did when it first came out. Twice. That said, thanks to the last 40 minutes for being so gosh darn fun, wacky, and wild (unlike the rest of the flick that’s surprisingly self-serious), the movie allows the “original” trilogy to go out with a bang. Ending with all of the subplots and myths finally put to be resolved or to rest and you feeling like you not only got through a fucking movie experience, this side of 2001, but one that was somehow boring, save for those said last 40 minutes.
But what would any Pirates movie be complete without jolly, good olde Johnny Depp in the iconic role as Jack Sparrow? Because, let’s face it, without him (both character and actor), this franchise would have all but folded by the summer of ’07. Nobody would have cared for another Pirates movie, people probably would have stopped wondering if Depp bothered to take showers anymore and there sure as hell wouldn’t have even been a strange fascination people had with pirates. The planned-franchise would have fallen flat on it’s face, died, and left in the banks of everybody’s memory; the ones who saw it, or didn’t even bother to see it. However, since Depp was in the lead role as Jack Sparrow and the character was as iconic as ever, the franchise was alive and well, and people expect this movie to be Depp’s crowning-achievement. It wasn’t, but at least the guy made the movie still all the better just by his presence being felt throughout the whole flick, regardless of if he was on-screen or not.
Actually, some may be surprised to know that with this flick, Sparrow is not on screen as much as you’d expect the franchise-character to be on. After the first 30 minutes, we finally see Sparrow and it’s Depp playing him at his nuttiest. The guy talks to himself, rambles on incoherently about lord knows what, and always seems to be back-stabbing anybody who takes his good faith into consideration. That’s just the sneaky-devil Jack Sparrow is and Depp plays him to perfection, still keeping him the most interesting and entertaining aspect of the whole movie. That’s a how a hard-feat for even the slickest-pro like Depp to pull off, but somehow he did it, made it work, and even got his own movie while he was at it. Then again, everybody practically predicted that one to happen.
However, since Depp is the best part of this whole movie, that leaves all of his co-stars in the dust and left for scrutiny, no matter how hard each and every one of them try. The most noticeable of the co-stars left for scrutiny is definitely Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley who are both given more material here together or separate, than they should have ever been given. Don’t get me wrong, I like Bloom and Knightley and I think that they’re romance in the first two movies are what kept most of it humane and grounded in some sense of reality, but here, they’re just around and in love to serve a mechanism for the plot to make us happy, make us smile, and have us catch the ill-fated love bug. At the end, that latter aspect comes into play, oh so obviously, and is excruciating to watch, not because it isn’t romantic or anything; it’s just cheeky and trying way to hard to make us swoon for their love. It’s a lame way to end a romance that had so much promise, even from the first movie.
Geoffrey Rush is good once again as Barbossa and seems to be enjoying his stay in the role, even if he’s not as fun to watch because of the fact that he’s playing the good guy this time, and not the hammy-villain; there was also a lot of talk on this movie about Chow Yun-Fat’s role in the movie as the Chinese pirate, Sao Feng, which makes no sense because the dude’s barely in it and even when he is, gets annoying after awhile since he just goes on and on and on with the exposition nobody gives a shit about; and Bill Nighy is once again playing Davy Jones and plays him well, as you’d expect, but doesn’t really get the chance to let his character go any deeper than what was initially-promised. Same goes for the British actors who are all but wasted here in the forms of Tom Hollander, Jonathan Pryce, and especially, Jack Davenport who could have all been more interesting and compelling to watch on screen, but are never quite given that chance to shine and do their thang. Oh well. At least they collected a healthy paycheck from this, along with a new summer house.
Consensus: Rather than feeling like an epic event you have to see, whether it be on a big-screen at home or in a movie theater, POTC: AWE feels like it’s more of a chore to get through, rather than an actual fun, light, and entertaining movie, like the first two were, but without all of the heavy-baggage of useless subplots and exposition.
7 / 10 = Rental!!