Close your eyes.
I know they’re not closed because you’re reading this but I didn’t really mean it anyway. Imagine an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet Restaurant on US Route 57 between Chicago and Memphis. On your plate is the Great American Dream Meal: fried chicken, mashed potatoes (with brown gravy), green bean casserole, mac and cheese, a pasta salad thing, Jell-O (red), a bit of salad with ranch dressing, something with kidney beans, and a dollop of bread pudding hovering near the edge.
It’s a little disgusting, huh? But it’s All-You-Can-Freakin’-Eat, baby! Gots to chow down, yes? A little bit at a time is too much effort and somehow you’d feel cheated, having to get up over and over for a reasonable plateful each time you finished something – better to pile it all on one plate, so when you go for seconds it’s only your second time up to the heart attack bar – I mean, they have some rainbow-y looking prime rib over there, too!
The Hollywood rule of threequels is that it has to be more. More. MORE! With the first installment of a movie that was based on a Disney theme park ride, Johnny Depp pulled a performance out of his ass that made the impossible possible – the theme park movie was really pretty funny and the pirate movie was alive in spite of Renny Harlen suffocating it a few years earlier with Cutthroat Island. Not only that, it was a good movie – fun, funny, great effects and a unique and exciting approach to a genre most people had only seen on late night TV.
PotC: Dead Man’s Chest was a highly anticipated sequel, and it did not disappoint much – a bit overstuffed but introducing a character equally as quirky and fascinating as Depp’s Jack Sparrow, the squid-faced Davy Jones. Amazingly, Bill Nighy managed, through his eyes and his vocal cadence, to give a character whose entire existence was computer generated a sense of humanity and soul.
With the third film, director Gore Verbinski and screenwriters Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio decided to give us the Great American Dream Meal – every character, every plot point, every thing melting into the others until what was presented was a hunk of chicken flavored green bean cheese thing with hints of Jell-o and mashed potato. Many critics have complained that the plot twists (everyone sort of double-crosses everyone else in this thing) were hard to follow and were confused which makes me think that most film critics are stupid – it isn’t hard to follow, just hard to swallow.
Highlights of the film include more of Davy Jones, Jack Sparrow caught in a Beckett-like hell with multiple versions of himself, a marriage ceremony during the biggest sword and pistol fight between two warring ships that was just cool as hell, and a flaming monkey. The rest of it is loud and frenetic with the standard Bruckheimer score (that could be from Pirates or The Rock or even Con-Air – what’s the difference?) booming underneath and swordfights and pistols blazing and stunts and just a whole plateful of kickass action movie mush.
That said, I had a great time. Unlike those who may take going to see films about pirates or Jedi knights or Hobbits way too seriously, I have a simple set of expectations for a movie like PotC: At World’s End and it exceeded my (admittedly low) expectations.
If you want a brilliant film with superior acting and a high artistic threshold, go see Notes on a Scandal or Little Children. But for those days when what you crave is a whole bunch of greasy, cheesy food piled high on a plastic plate for eight bucks, this theme park ride satisfies.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Director: Gore Verbinski
Screeplay: Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio
Featuring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Kiera Knightley, Orlando Bloom, Your Brother, A Guy from Washington State, and Chef Boyardee