‘At World’s End’ and no place left to go
Vail, CO, Colorado
At some point in time, someone in Hollywood decided that in order to have successful sequels, each new episode must upstage its predecessor. To achieve this, filmmakers take the original cast and setting, throw in a ton of extra special effects, scary, barnacled creatures and bad guys with tentacles for faces; not just one ship exploding but three simultaneously, all while spinning into a gigantic whirlpool during a hurricane. They may even throw a rock star into the mix.
In the end, the layers of effort just get convoluted, the plot becomes almost incomprehensible and nothing’s ever as good as the original, which, ironically, never had to try so hard.
Such is the case with “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.”
The good news is, it’s better than No. 2.
But, oh, the original is such a hard act to follow. And it was a surprise success. Nobody, least of all the filmmakers, thought it would reach such a level of immortalization and worship that sequel seekers would show up at the theater in eye patches and on peg legs. OK, we didn’t see any of that at the theater in Edwards, but there’s no question that the place was packed. Just about every prime-time showing has sold out since “World’s End” opened last weekend.
“Pirates 3” was not a disappointment. But while Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is every bit the boggle-eyed, gesticulating whack job we know and love, in parts two and three, every shift of his eye or idiosyncrasy he possesses requires a sudden zoom in. Or multiple personalities. Seriously. It was pretty amusing to see Sparrow spring a couple of miniature doppelgangers on each shoulder and a whole crew of himself, but his goofiness was already flawlessly presented in just the one man. No need to go to such lengths to make us love him. We already do.
Every explosion, action sequence and punch line in “World’s End” somehow feels like it’s proceeded with a drum roll, whereas all the good stuff in the original transpired without any build up or fanfare. All the effects and action scenes in the following films are so dolled up they’re mired in their own complexity and the result is slightly sore eyes. Not to mention a little confusion.
The thing becomes a collision of ships with pirates, monsters and stodgy English soldiers Tarzaning between masts in a hurricane with swords and bodies flying everywhere, monkeys loading themselves into cannons and people’s tentacles falling off of their faces. It’s just sensory overload.
The film is full of great ideas, magnificent graphics and cinematography, phenomenal acting by one and all, especially Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly, who, as Elizabeth Swann, gets cooler and tougher with every film. The newcomers are also wonderful, even the cameo by Sparrow’s protege, Keith Richards. It’s a shame we don’t get to spend as much time with the characters as we do with the special effects.
“At World’s End” is a top-end Hollywood masterpiece. But what we really wanted was a fun, fast and humorous pirate movie. We wanted an action figure, but “Pirates 3,” like it’s predecessor, handed over an Xbox.
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