Thursday, December 27, 2007

At World's End (That's what the kids call it now?)

I finally watched Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End today.

What a lot of noise, explosions, bodies, plotting and seafood that was! It was 'very big', said STB, the man of the house. And it was indeed very big. Not very good, but certainly overwhelming. I couldn't help thinking the whole enterprise must have taken lots and lots of cocaine. I can't think of any other way that the writers could have convinced themselves that they could bring a whole audience along for such a long, winding and frankly weirdly perverted ride unless they were completely up their own arses in a way that's not normally achieved without coke. It's just… presumptuous… to think you can get away with all that. It would be nice to say they did get away with it and all the clever expense reports necessary to hide the blow was worth it, but I don't think they did. I noticed, and so did many of the reviews I read when it first came out.

Also, it was very complicated. There's a theory that the word processor has ruined the novel, because it allows people to perfect a paragraph, polish it to a precious glowing gem as it's held still in front of you with Microsoft's own word-dopping wax, but encouraging you to lose sight of any strands longer than one page, which therefore remain ragged and loose. Apparently the combination of word processing and offline editing has done the same to movies – at least to this one. Each individual shot(of ten seconds or so) is brilliant. Any three or four of them are wonderful. When you start to add up a few tens, they are simply confusing. As a whole, the movie doesn't make sense by itself. You need a whiteboard with six colors, or Microsoft Project, or maybe a dab hand with Excel to chart out who promised who what and whether they got it or not and how many people betrayed them on the way there. Although I like a movie I can discuss afterwards, I'm not so keen on a movie for which I have to write a cause-and-effect fishbone diagram before I can even visualize its overall structure.

Loved the usual things. Jack Sparrow – gorgeous, cowardly and logorrheic. Davy Jones' expressive face and bizarre Scottish accent. (Wouldn't someone called Davy Jones be Welsh?) The beautiful Tia Dalma, here becoming the 50 ft Woman and then coming down with a bad case of crabs, poor thing. Captain Barbossa's very masterful rule of his boat. The CGI was impeccable – I gave up looking for it and assumed everything was real after a while. Less brain strain. Keith Richards, easily taking over his couple of scenes without actually doing anything, which I guess is what charisma is all about.

Was horrified by the horrible things – the sea-change of the crew on The Flying Dutchman literally gives me the creeps. The number of people blown up, impaled, decapitated and/or delimbed was higher than any 'action' movie I can think of. God only knows how this gets a PG-13 rating. The visual bits that recalled other movies annoyed me rather than came across as homages. The weapons-unloaded-from-apparently-unarmed-person's-clothing scene, recalling Mad Max 3, and the whole unnecessary "Big Trouble in Little China" Singapore subplot being the worst offenders in my eyes.

Overall, quite a spectacle but not one I'd call a great movie. Yes, I will watch it again. Probably when I get the six different colored pens for my whiteboard so I can chart it.

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