Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

You’re still with me? Good. I was afraid I’d lost you all after the complicated plot twists of the last film.  Those paths of prose are windy indeed and one is liable to get lost if one isn’t careful. Fortunately, they leave out a few little breadcrumbs of coherency so you can follow along in the right direction. At any rate, we’re back for another swashbuckling adventure in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. No, the world doesn’t end. It’s not a movie about any sort of apocalypse. It’s about voyaging to the ends of the world in search of truth, justice. . .oh, who am I kidding? Where’s the rum?

At the end of the last movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) had received a kiss of death and a one way ticket to Davy Jones’ Locker through a dubiously consensual act of vore, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) had made a promise he intended to keep, Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) was filled with guilt over her part in Jack’s death, Norrington (Jack Davenport) betrayed them all, and Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) brought Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) back from the dead so they could rescue Jack. Yeah. It’s complicated. This seems to be a trend with these films.

In any event, the plot is more complex and more convoluted this time around. Everyone wants something. For Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander), it’s complete control of the waves and, by extension, the world. This runs against everything that pirates and their ilk stand for: life, happiness, and freedom.  This calls for gathering all of the nine Pirate Lords together in order to have a violent staff meeting to decide where to go from here. Fortunately, this side-trip into piratical diplomacy ends up introducing us to Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat) and Jack Sparrow’s father, Captain Teague (Keith Richards).

There are more magical elements,  a goddess imprisoned in a fleshy body, and at least one unfortunate death by deep-throated tentacle. There are sea battles and inspirational speeches. There’s a quick wedding, a sudden death, and fulfilled destinies. Sure, it gets a little bit crazy, but that’s what I signed on for when I went to see it.

In writing these reviews, I’ve realized that I’m in the minority as I am one of the few in my circle who actually enjoyed these movies. Sure, they’re on a sliding scale of quality. The best was the first, the second was just a stepping stone to get us to the third. Still, though, I love them anyway. They’re not Oscar-worthy, but they’re fun for an afternoon of popcorn and laughter on the high seas.

One last note, though, before you go. Just remember: Calypso, the sea goddess, doesn't have a raging case of crabs - she is a raging case of crabs. Food for thought.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Picture this: You’re a Disney movie executive sitting behind your huge desk, just trying to finish up the last couple of meetings for the day before tee time and some guy comes in. He pitches you an idea about doing a movie based off of one of the many Disney park rides. Think about the bump in attendance that the parks would get as a result of the movie’s success! It sounds brilliant and unprecedented! Why not give it a shot? It’d at least get the guy to go away.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how we got the made-for-TV classic Disney’s Tower of Terror. It starred Steve Guttenburg and Kirsten Dunst. No, you probably didn’t see it. You should be glad you didn’t. I did.

Fortunately, it was forgettable stepping stones like that which bring us past the other ride-to-movie crap Disney did (Mission to MarsThe Country Bears, and The Haunted Mansion) and straight to Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. To be honest, The Haunted Mansion was released a few months after Pirates, but we’re not going to talk about that movie. It’s better that way.

The prologue happens. There’s a little Elizabeth, a gruff sailor (Kevin McNally), little girl’s dad (Jonathan Pryce), and Captain Stick-Up-His-Ass Norrington (Jack Davenport). They encounter a burned ship and little Will Turner with a mysterious coin around his neck. The girl promises to take care of the boy and then promptly steals his coin once he passes out. Apparently, taking care of someone involves the theft of their valuables. Good to know!

Theoretically, the main plot of the movie is centered around the romance between the prologue's girl and the boy. Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), is now a lovely young lady and daughter of the island’s governor and Will (Orlando Bloom), is now an enterprising young man who’s apprenticed to a drunken blacksmith. Sure, it’s a cute story. Boy from the wrong side of the tracks in love with a rich girl who’s also got newly-promoted Commodore Stick-Up-His-Ass Norrington chasing her tail.

In reality, though, it’s all about the two scene-stealing pirates: Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and his former mutinous first mate Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). After his grand entrance, the audience finds out that Jack is currently shipless and looking for a replacement. Barbossa, on the other hand, has Jack’s former ship and a nasty case of semi-undead from coming into contact with cursed gold and loose women.

Remember that coin Elizabeth stole? Yep. It was cursed. The coin gets rubbed the wrong way and summons the pirates to bring on the plot. There’s swash to be buckled, ships to be acquired, curses to break, and adventure to be had. Though not a work of cinematic greatness, it’s a great deal of fun to watch. For the record, this movie spawned the new pirate renaissance and inspired the swagger of many a would-be pirate captain. It may also be the reason why the rum is gone.