Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pirates 3

The short version of my review: it sucked. Not as badly as #2, but that's really not hard, since the second was a 2-hour trailer for the third.

Now the longer version. It was nice to see some of the various storylines coming together, but the missing element in all this was the interests each of them had in their...whatever it was they were doing (mostly screwing each other over - and btw, spoilers ahead). It wasn't clear, for example, why Orlando wanting to save his father necessarily goes against Keira Knightly. Or what the hell Jack Sparrow was after (immortality? legendary status?). As a result, you didn't get the banter or witticisms that came from Jack playing off all the characters against each other in the first and to a lesser degree the second.

Action was fine, and there were some really cool shots, but the lack of motivation for the characters really inhibited things. I think a big inhibiting factor is that no one has really ever made a successful naval battle shine on the screen (please correct me if I'm wrong, as I'd love to see it). It all boils down to what happens on deck, or in the tight framing of two ships going at it, but you don't get the grand sense of what's happening in the wider battle. Truth be told, this is probably the case in larger land battle films, but the particular nature of naval warfare (separate ships and all) makes it hard to film. I guess one could go the Alexander the Great-route (the movie with Colin Ferrell), but that style was just terrible.

Now, the ending. I actually liked the ambiguous nature of the ending, and how Will Turner and Elizabeth Turner (married in the middle of a naval battle in probably one of the worst contrived scenes ever made) could only see each other every ten years. It was much better than the saccarine tales where everyone lived happily ever after. But Duvall has sent me to

http://pwbeat.publishersweekly.com/blog/2007/05/29/pirates-of-the-caribbean-at-exhaustions-end/#more-2620

where I discovered that that was not, in fact, the ending. I would have vastly preferred the nominally more "heart-wrenching" ending, if only because it suits my sensibilities of responsibility and adulthood better, and it's a nice way to round off the series. But of course, that closes off the possibility of Pirates 4, which, unfortunately, I'm sure someone will drag me to see.

*sigh* The series started out with such promise, but it pulled a Matrix in the end.

7 comments:

HoBs said...

I mostly agree with Chengora's assessment. and that like Matrix, the series sucked it up, though like Matrix, I have to give the 3rd pirate's some credit for tackling some "Big" ideas (those "" are actually air-quotes and should be interpretted ironically).

So the whole series has the standard insidious theme of the fantasy genre these days from Superman to Harry Potter that I hate, that technology and rationality and commerce is bad, and that thievery is good. But I can't fault Pirates too much here because that's true of the entire genre. (Mage: The Ascension and Alan Moore explore this well).

But a nice touch was (last-minute) introduction of the goddess Cassandra. But I liked because she wasn't just a run of the mill goddess, but the anthropomoprhic embodiment of the spirit of nautical adventure (much like Dream in Gaiman's Sandman).

Without her, the seas becamse rational and suitable for commerce, but without her, the seas lost their magic.

As a result, as soon as she was freed, what would have been a rational, orderly by the books naval battle between two fleets, turned into cartoonishly improbable scene of swashbuckling derring-do-well between two ships in whirlpool. Ridiculous, but fully in line with the film's internal logic of Cassandra.

So I actually liked (ridulosity of) the last half an hour or so, but yeah, thought the first two hours were completley disposable prologue.

As an aside, I do think Master and Commander captured naval warfare really well, naval warfare as a thinking game of chess, but maybe that's just my style.

And as an another aside, I thought it was obvious that the end was merely a hook for Pirate's 4, as obvious as Charles Xavier stirring at the end of X-men 3, which despite protestations otherwise, was clearly a hook for X-men 4.

It still blows me away how many not just sequels, but sequels to sequels there are this year (pirate's, shrek, ocean's, spidey, fantastic 4, rush hour, bourne). And Harry potter and Die Hard which are the 4th in the series. Maybe next year will the be the year of sequels to sequels to sequels.

Chengora said...

The ending was a hook, but I'm not sure they're actually going to make a Pirates 4. The director (Gore Verbinski is it?) says he's taking some time off and has essentially walked away from the project. Not saying he won't come back, but still.

That said, I can't believe they've brought back Die Hard. That probably should have remained comatose.

hcduvall said...

Hobs: Calypso, no?

I would argue while Matrix tackled big ideas ineptly, you may have confused mass of plot in Pirates with big ideas. The movie sounds suspisously like the recap of an NPC's history in a Foggy Realms guidebook or something. Eminently enjoyable; probably not actual big ideas.

Chengora: It's not like they need the same director. Really, they just need Johnny Depp. I cannot imagine a movie with Orlando Bloom written out to be heart-wrenching for fans of interesting movies.

In conclusion: It's the mythos of an animatronic roller-coaster, how much more can you (reasonably) expect?

HoBs said...

ah, yeah, meant Calypso. some C name out of greek mythology.

yeah, the main problem with 2 and 3 is probably not enough johnny depp.

oh, though keira knightly i think is also crucial to the franchise, and underutilized in 3 as well.

Chengora said...

True, they don't need the same director, but I'm not sure it's A-list blockbuster material anymore. Shrek and Spider-man had strong starts, relatively successful sequels, and capped it off with "meh" third acts. Pirates went the way of the Wachowski brothers/siblings, however, so, while the Pirates franchise isn't as tarnished as the Matrix, I think it'll be an open question of a fourth. The non-character drivers of the plot are, to a certain extent, wrapped up as well.

For me, someone had to die at the end of act 3, and I think that was in part why I liked the ending (sans the sappiness). The action and sequence of the movie was driving towards a schism, and the death of Orlando seemed to make the most sense from a composition standpoint. Too many male leads, not enough women with more acting range/roles than "tough girl" seeking adventure. But, of course, they're going to bring him back. Bastards.

hcduvall said...

Zombie Pirate Monkey.

That's all the acting they need.

HoBs said...

"Wachowski brothers/siblings"

:)

That brothers/siblings thing is apparently their excuse for the crappyness of the rest of the series.

Did he/she have surgery yet.