Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pirates Pillage the Audience Again

In case you are one of the four people who didn't go to see Pirates of the Caribbean this past weekend, don't. I went despite fair warning by several critics whose opinions I generally respect, like Jeffrey Overstreet. This movie is not worth me trying to come up with a better chapter of faults than Jeffrey has already done:

Not even a dozen Captain Jack Sparrows can save this overstuffed ship from sinking. If less really is more, Verbinski must have missed the memo. (In last summer's Dead Man's Chest, he proved that excess can be a good thing; it's hard to have too much fun with slapstick sequences as inspired as those. But here, it's just chaotic action, a lot of shooting and swordplay without character development to give it gravity.)

...Verbinski and the effects team work overtime to spoil your appetite. The previous Pirates movies have shown a flair for the grotesque, and this time, they pull out all the stops. In fact, they dismember them. Characters have a troubling tendency to snap off digits, gouge out eyes (and suck on them), rip brains out of craniums (and lick them), and yank out beating hearts (and maybe even stab them). It's like touring the popular "Bodies" exhibit (featured in Casino Royale), only to see the corpses come to life and dissect themselves.

...Three hours is a long time to sit watching self-centered buffoons scrambling about the deck of an unsteady ship. For all of the talk about love and freedom, these "mateys" are as fickle and reckless as a cafeteria full of juvenile delinquents. Everybody lies to everybody. Understanding their motives and grudges is like trying to comprehend sectarian violence in the Middle East. The movie's most telling scene involves a super-sized Mexican standoff, in which the gunslingers can't decide who to shoot. Who can blame them? They're all losers. Moviegoers might as well root for Lord Beckett.

Thus, the movie ends up like Davy Jones himself—many-tentacled, full of bluster, and devoid of a beating heart.

It's just a mess of a film. Impossible story. Too many characters. Half the dialogue unintelligible because of bad accents or inconvenient costumes/makeup. Depp's usual delightful characterization has grown stale and without surprises. Keira Knightly pouts her way annoyingly through yet another film.

My eight year old nephew - WHO LOVES PIRATE ANYTHING! - was bored and disgusted. He proclaimed the movie "a scam" when it finally ended. He is right.

The only pluses in film are the stunning visuals. It's really a showcase of what is possible with the latest CGI effects.

But that isn't enough to justify sitting through three hours of tedium. Wait for the coffee table book. Judging by the unrestrained marketing connected with this franchise, I'm sure a cofeetable book must be forthcoming.

Pass, matey. A thousand bottles of rum couldn't obscure this movie's flaws.


Jeffrey Overstreet said...

"Generally respect"?!!

But seriously, thanks for the link. I'd be very interested in your take on "Waitress," Barbara. I think you'd really like some of it. And I think a few parts would get you all worked up and ranting too. But overall, definitely worth seeing for the discussion... and for Nathan Fillion.

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