No number of bad reviews would have kept me from seeing this movie. Even spoilers would not have convinced me to wait until it was out in DVD to view it. And I was delighted to go see the movie, even glad that I had gone to see the movie when it was done ... so I can't really give it a "thumbs down."
Like many people, I went to see this movie to see Captain Jack Sparrow, so lamentably killed at the end of Pirates II. How could they bring him back? Where would they have to go to find him? Would he still be our beloved Jack, mincing and swaying and speaking nearly incomprehensibly?
That's not a difficult formula. Pirates of the Caribbean = Captain Jack Sparrow = Crowd Satisfaction. For the "three-quel", I wanted to be able to shout "Jack is Back!!!" and that would have been enough of a plot kernel for me.
Hollywood never listens to me, however, and Pirates: At World's End not only brought back Jack from the grave, but also every character who had a name in the previous two Pirates films, whether they needed to have screen time or not. Too many characters in the ensemble -- the new characters introduced ended up being throwaways. (Read that to say, "Not enough Chow Yun-Fat.") All the pirate Lords and even Jack's dad (played cleverly by Keith Richards) were animated background matte paintings for the story. What purpose did they serve? We were led to believe there was to be a battle for the seas between the pirates and the British empire, but the pirates (except for the crew of the Black Pearl didn't bother to show up, nor did the British empire.
CGI was, of course, marvelous. I cackled with glee when the rock crabs made their appearance to help Jack Sparrow. However, that was plenty of crab effects for one movie, and the next event of countless crabs just left me rummaging to see if I had any popcorn left rather than keeping my eyes on the screen. "Yeah, yeah, crabs, I got it," I muttered. "Lots of crab programs in the computer, got to justify the money somehow."
The biggest surprise for me was the violence. This film put the "Gore" in the name of the director Gore Verbinski. Yuck. There were more gut-stabbings per minute than in any movie I've seen in my life. And an opening sequence of hanging hundreds of people in sequence? Not a film that all the kiddies who idolize Jack Sparrow ought to see, sorry, call me old-fashioned. I never thought taking the family to the gallows was a wholesome Saturday outing.
"Don't blink and don't think" is actually a quote from our vampire writer Lydia Manx. She saw the movie, too, and summed it up perfectly with that phrase. If you enjoyed Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow before, you're not going to want to miss a second of Pirates 3. I didn't want to miss a bit of it either, and am seriously considering going back to see it a second time in the theater. But to be honest, the ending was annoying, too.
Fine. My tickets are paid for and I'm buying the DVD the minute it's released. But I still would have done it differently if I ruled the world of Hollywood.
You might say to me, "Hey Bernie, do you have any qualifications in regards to movie making?" And I would have to answer honestly that I do not.
You might say to me, "Hey Bernie, d'you ever take any classes in journalism or anything that would have taught you how to write movie reviews?" And I would have to answer again honestly that I did not.
You might say to me, "Hey Bernie, so what you're saying is that you don't know what you're talking about in these reviews?" And I would have to admit that to a certain extent, that is true.
You might say to me, "Hey Bernie, do you have any sisters that got blue eyes like yours with long legs and ample bosoms?" And I would have to skip the easy shot about my sister's eyes having neither legs nor bosoms and admit nervously that I had to leave because I left my phone in my other pants.
With these caveats, I would submit to you that I am qualified to write reviews by virtue of the fact that I have in my pocket on any given weekend enough money for a theater ticket, a bucket of popcorn, and a soda, and I have to decide upon which movie to bestow this wealth. In other words, I am the customer, and the customer is always right, at least some of the time.
Which brings me serendipitously to Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.
I had hoped that after the enormous success of the first two movies in this series went all but unnoticed at the Academy Awards, this film would be the best of the three and it would sweep the Oscars in the same way that Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King did in 2003. I wanted the film to get "Best Picture," and I wanted Johnny Depp to get "Best Actor."
Well, my sister's eyes will need a bra before this film will even get a nomination for let alone win best picture. It's just not that good. It is way too busy, with a story that is driven by the special effects and not the other way around, and an ending that just plain old sucks. It is not Academy Award material.
But it is fun and loaded with glitzy special effects and Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. And I would have to say that in the end, that was enough to get me to spend my money on this particular movie. I will make this prediction, however: I don't think this movie will come close to the box office success of Dead Man's Chest. It is not one that I want to spend next week's movie money on.
So go see it if you're a fan of Captain Jack, or if you want a cool place to spend a hot Sunday afternoon, but don't expect to preview the Oscars with this one.