Gimli The Dwarf -> Infuriatingly fantastic fun (26/5/2007 8:15:35 AM)
As was the case in the last two instalments, the best thing about the film was Johnny Depp. He's a created a wonderful character with Jack Sparrow, with his roundabout way of speaking, comedic gait and daffy expression, it's a joy to watch him. What's more, in the scene when we first Sparrow in Davy Jones' Locker it's as mad as hell and all the better for it. Multiple Jack Sparrows all working on the Black Pearl, it's hilarious. There's another particular scene, when Sparrow is choosing who should sail with him, thats a joy.
Almost as good was Geoffrey Rush, you could tell he was having a ball. The most "Piratey” of all the Pirates in these films, it's great fun watching him, and the scenes he shares with Depp are great. Together, with the help of some telescopes they create two fine laughs, and he's wonderful during that last fight, all wide-eyed and manic laughter.
In fact, pretty much all the cast are good, even if their roles are small of the actors are underused. Jonathon Pryce and Jack Davenport (sympathic), Naomie Harris (wonderful), Tom Hollander (creepy), Kevin McNally (a joy) and it's nice to see the return of smaller characters, such as Marty and Cotton
As with the first two films, the effects are fantastic. Davy Jones looks even better, he's still the best use of CGI I've seen.
Some superb set pieces. The rock crabs scene in the desert, that leads to a wonderful shot of Sparrow aboard the Black Pearl (lovingly reminiscent of his arrival in The Curse Of The Black Pearl, the entire "Up is Down" sequence and, of course, that final battle, as the crew of the Black Pearl and The Flying Dutchman engage in combat while sailing in a maelstrom, one of the most excitingly thrilling big budget set pieces of the last two decade. The aftermath, the destruction of The Interceptor and Beckett's death, is beautifully shot.
The score is marvellous. It keeps plenty of the old themes, and there are some truly memorable, haunting new ones. During the "Hoist the Colours” sequence following Elizabeth Swann's speech, I was almost welling up; the music really, really did evoke feelings. There's one particular motif, just a few simple notes that is really beautiful, and captures the kind of sacrifices we are seeing on screen, Also, we hear many different variations of the song played in the opening, and they all suitable capture the mood and tone of the scenes they play over. For the first time since LOTR, I walked straight out of the cinema and off to buy the soundtrack.
Much like Tortuga managed to capture the world in which these people lived in the first 2 film, you could almost smell what you were seeing, the new locations do the same here, notably Shipwreck Cove and Singapore. Very evocative.
The meeting of the brethren, it was long and exposition heavy, but handled quite well I think, and gave Liz, Barbossa and Jack all moments to shine, with a few comical asides from other pirates.
It might be silly and childish, but I'm glad that both the monkey and the parrot returned, and made it through unharmed[:)]
It isn't all good though.
Tia Dalma. Oh dear, what did they do? She has only a small role it Dead Man's Chest, but she played quiet an important part and it was easy to like her. In this, her character's importance is increased, yet she's given less to do and she's ruined at the same time. We all knew she would be Davy Jones' lost love, but having her as the goddess Calypso trapped in a human body? Too much, and that whole releasing of her was the worst seen in the film, tacky in fact (great music though). She might have gone back to the see, but did she actually help or hinder anyone in the end? I had really, really hoped that after that storm, we would see her as a human again, finish off the story that they decided to give her.
I've read some praise for the final twist regarding Will bit I don't like it. By having him become captain of the Flying Dutchman, it places too much emphasise on his character, one who I've always thought of as the least interesting. It also gives the film a bittersweet aftertaste, in that he and Elizabeth can only be together once every ten years. It should have been Bootstrap Bill that killed Davy Jones, thereby he becomes Captain, Will has semi-kept his promise as his father is now free, and he and Elizabeth live happily ever after.
Why kill off Norrington and Governor Swann? Two pointless deaths. Swann is slightly forgivable as it gives Elizabeth that extra motive, but Norrington. Worst, not one person mentions him once he's dead, and he's killed by Bootstrap, a character later made out to be a hero, and his death serves no purpose. It was a huge waste. Norrington should have escaped with Elizabeth and joined her and if he were to die, make his dearth have some meaning later in the film.
Sao Feng. A good character but utterly wasted. From out of the blue he's killed, and all so he can pass on his charm to Liz, and therefore lead her to become Pirate Queen, Again, as with Will, too much emphasise is being placed on her role. They've both changed so much from the first film, it's hard to remember what made them likeable to begin with
Keith Richards was bit wasted. He was the set-up for one good joke from Sparrow, but other than that, forgettable.
At times it felt like a "Pirates Greatest Hits”, with the choicest imagery and lines from the first two films relived. In some cases this worked wonderfully well, in others, it failed, such an in the last scene between Gibbs and Sparrow. (That's another thing, Gibbs should have sailed off with Sparrow at the end)
Perhaps it's just me, but I was really hoping for a proper battle, with Sparrow, Barbossa, Will, Elizabeth and Feng all teaming up against Jones and Beckett, a little bit like that poster implies. This would have been a better way to bring about Feng's death, and be a nice-set-up for that last battle.
That last bit after the credits. Please no, don't introduce a kid. It also highlights the bitter aftertaste of the film. We know Will can't set foot on land but once every 10 years, but does he spends all that time ferrying souls? Is this really the first time he's seen Liz and his son in a decade? That's the impression, and it's just something I'm not happy about, not because I'm a soppy romantic who wants them together (in honesty, I was never really bothered whether they did mask it as a couple) but it's added an extra layer, supposedly of sacrifice and yearning, yet it doesn't ring true. Like I said earlier, Bootstrap would have been the ideal replacement for Davy Jones
The Curse Of The Black Pearl was just good fun, with Dead Man's Chest, the story became noticeably darker. With At World's End, it's darker still. It's also become much more epic and grandiose, deeper themes which works quite well in terms of story and action, but less so with characters. By giving as many characters as they can big story's (chiefly Will, Liz and Tia Dalma), and going for the emotional moments that didn't pay off, the film sometimes falls flat at the times it should soar.
I know here's a few negative here, and I also know that these are mainly based on how I feel, not the actual film itself. Going down that road, there are major flaws also. It's easily 40 minutes too long, far, far too complicated - I'm still not sure about the significance of the song was, whether all the double crossing was actually intended from the start (one line of Will's seems to suggest it was all planned), what Sao Feng's plan was, the whole significance of the coins, and whether or not Tia Dalma did actually want to be released from her human body (She must have been in human form for Jones's to fall in love with her, then she was betrayed by him and trapped in human form. She said she wanted to be released so why did she seem so reluctant - The entire timeline involving the past of these two is also confusing). The acting from Bloom and Knightly could be better (to be honest though, they have both improved), and quite often the whole thing is greatly contrived
As so often happens with me in films I truly like but with moments I dislike, I've already started concocting my own version of events, and that can't be good.
And yet, for all it's faults, for all I really do hate what they've done to some characters, I can't bring myself to not love the film. It has so much going for it and up until Norrington's death it was the best of the three. The characters of Sparrow, Barbossa, Jones and Gibbs are always a joy to watch, there's some truly funny humour thrilling action and there is a heart to it all as well. I was entertained for damn near all of it's running time, ecstatic for a great deal of it, just happy to be back in the company of these characters in this world. It's possible that I love it simply because of it's splendid CGI and action, but I think hats a bit like liking Frankenstein simply because of the make-up. There is a great film to be seen here, and I'm well aware that the faults Vie found are less to do with the film, but how the film affected me, as is almost always the case when I review films. But there's just too much here to love, to enjoy, to want to watch over and over again, for me to give it less than full marks, and I actually think I'll grow to love it even more with time. I certainly don't expect others to agree with me. It's majorly flawed, but hugely, gloriously, wonderfully, thrillingly, superbly, stupidly, ridiculously entertaining at the same time – 5/5