Pirates of the Caribbean Series Review – At World’s End & On Stranger Tides

27 Dec

By this point, the Pirates of the Caribbean films have proved to be major box office successes. With all of this money, Disney and Jerry Brukheimer had no problem throwing in massive amounts of money for the third movie in the series. The result is the most expensive movie ever made, At World’s End, costing $300 million to make.

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Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is trapped in Davy Jones’ Locker, but Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), and Mr. Gibbs (Kevin McNally), and the rest of the Black Pearl’s crew are going in after him. Upon his release, the macrocosm of trouble is revealed. Will is willing to conspire with anyone to free is father Bootstrap Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) from Davy Jones’ (Bill Nighy) ship, The Flying Dutchman. Elizabeth Swann is made a Pirate Lord and must decide with Jack, Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and the rest of the Pirate Brethren what to do about Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander) trying to control the ocean through the control of Davy Jones. All of this culminates in one climactic battle.

I never used to like this movie because I thought it was too confusing. If you thought there was a lot going on in Dead Man’s Chest, then multiply that by 10 and you have At World’s End. This is my third time watching the movie and I vowed to pay as much attention as I possibly could so that I could get everyone’s subplots and betrayals in order. Well, I finally understand exactly what’s going on in the movie and I have to say that this is my favorite installment in the series.

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The action in this one is stepped up in epic proportions. The final climax that takes place inside a maelstrom between The Black Pearl and The Flying Dutchman is one of the most badass things I’ve ever seen in a movie. That being said the effects are mind blowing and show the $300 million budget off beautifully. Davy Jones and his crew look as great as ever and the sets for the Pirates Brethren and the Singapore scenes look grimy and real. Finally, the locations chosen for the outdoor scenes are beautiful with the whitest sand and the bluest ocean. This movie feeds its audience just as much eye candy as your willing to take.

Seriously though, this movie’s about as confusing as any linear narrative can get. There’s more betrayals, shattered alliances, new alliances, and bargains in here than I’ve ever seen in one movie. It’s enough to make your head spin. If it’s your first time watching At World’s End, you might need to make a chart just to keep track of it all. Now that I fully understand everything, I appreciate it so much more. Critics said that the complex nature of the story is a huge step backwards, but I think it’s great. Of course it’s going to get complicated. They’re all pirates. The characters in this movie handled themselves just as they would in real life. Pirates may talk about code and honor, but they really want what’s best for themselves.

(L-R) CHOW YUN-FAT, JOHNNY DEPP

 

I feel like the general consensus is that The Curse of the Black Pearl is most people’s favorite. I’d have to say that mine is At World’s End. There’s so much awesome action and adventure, deception, and plot that it can only be explained as organized chaos. It may take you a couple of times to completely wrap your head around the story, but once you do it may just become your favorite, too!

So that’s it, right? The story wraps up nicely at the end of the third one, so that must be it for Pirates. Well, it was a cool trilogy, so I’m glad… wait… there’s more? Oh no. Alright, well let’s talk about it then, the obligatory money grabber, On Stranger Tides.

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Captain Jack is still up to no good. His most recent adventure is to find the Fountain of Youth, because of his newfound fear of death. He’s not the only person who wants it though. Jack gets shanghaied by a former flame, Angelica (Penélope Cruz), to join Blackbeard’s (Ian McShane) crew. Hot on Blackbeard’s tale is Barbossa, now a member of the British Royal Navy, to exact revenge on Blackbeard for sinking the Black Pearl. These two parties are racing against the Spaniards, who also have an agenda of their own.

Take everything you love about the other films in this series, and pretty much get rid of all of them. The Black Pearl and its crew are pretty much not in this movie at all, the Pirate’s Code, Tortuga. Pretty much everything. All we have are Jack Sparrow, Barbossa, and Mr. Gibbs. This movie is kind of like going to a party held by your friend’s friend and only knowing a few people there. Everyone tries to be nice and cool with you, but you just miss your old friends and want to hang out with them instead.

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The only scene that really sticks out to me is the mermaid scene. It had this awesome supernatural/mythological feel to it that makes these movies so awesome. The scenes at the Fountain are also pretty cool, too. Everything else just falls flat, from the action to the other supernatural attempts to make this movie cooler than it actually is. Zombies? Really? Look how far this series has fallen. There used to be cursed crews because of stolen Aztec gold or because their captain failed to escort the dead to Davy Jones’ Locker. Now it’s zombies. Wow…

I love Jack Sparrow as much as the next person, but he having him lead an entire movie is a really bad idea. By the second and third movies, the films are pretty much ensemble pieces. Every character is just as important as the next. Jack’s never really the main character. In this one, he’s front and center and as silly as ever. He’s just not a good leading role. He does plenty of heroic things and has an alright head on his shoulders, but I get sick of him after a while. Luckily this is the shortest Pirates yet, clocking in at only two hours and fifteen minutes.

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If you haven’t guessed, I don’t like this movie. I was entertained in the very beginning, but slowly lost all interest in it. Blackbeard doesn’t stand up to the villains of the past and Jack isn’t a good lead character. The action is flat and the mythology stinks. Do yourself a favor, and pretend that the series ends after the third movie.

So that’s it. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is mostly a success with two great entries (The Curse of the Black Pearl and At World’s End), one pretty good entry (Dead Man’s Chest), and one awful one (On Stranger Tides). Any adventure fans should check these movies out, if by some chance you haven’t already. They’re good fun and remind me of adventure movies of old.

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