Movie Corner

My review of PIRATES (at the World’s End) can be summed up in one word: ARRR!

I know what you’re thinking: “Does it have any sports in it?”

To which I reply: “Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…”

“I’ll try to stay awake.”

Let me mention the best and worst of this film. SPOILERS BELOW THE CUT


Kiera Knightly is very easy on the eyes.

There are swordfights and seafights.

Ships fall off the edge of the earth and issue blast for blast while spiraling in a maelstrom.

Captain Jack Sparrow duels Davy Jones atop the yard-arm in a thunderstorm, with the monster’s heart beating in a chest held in his hand.

 All the characters from the original two movies are remembered, even the minor ones. It is hard to do as a sequel, and really hard to do well.

The Nine Pirate Lords must gather to undo the curse the first Pirate Lords wove, and therefore must find the mystical “Nine Pieces of Eight.”

The scene where the ghosts of all the slain are shown in boats, lit by little lanterns, afloat upon a calm sea, was as eerie as something from a children’s nursery tale, or a Homeric epic.

The weird mythology surrounding the pirate magic gains depth: it was (almost) like a Tim Powers novel. I have heard reviewers complain about this: I unstopper my nose at them. Pfui. The plot had to introduce an additional background to Davy Jones, or else the film would have had nothing to do and nowhere to go: the East India Trading company simply wins the day if there is not a One Ring to throw into the volcano to stop the dark lord, or a glowing green space-rock to stop the evil superman.

There is a marriage at sea, which is now officially my favorite ten minutes of film in all of filmdom. (my previous favorite had been the scene where James Bond is thrown out of an airplane without a chute, and must wrestle a parachutist in midair to steal his chute from him.)

Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barboss. Great job. Nuff said.

Bill Nighy as Davy Jones. Great Job. Hollywood, please sign this actor up for many more films.

The scene where the HMS Endeavor is being shot to piece in slow-mo, while her captain stands among the flying shrapnel, unharmed, was memorial, eerie, almost Akira Kurasawa-like in its beautiful unrealism. Wow.

There is many a time during this fine film when I turned to my wife next to me, clutching her hand in mine, and whispered: “This is just GREAT!”


Kiera Knightly as Xena the Queen of Swordfighting makes me cough in my coffee. Sorry, I don’t believe it. Stab a man with a rapier, if you have been doing nothing but training in the Italian Academy since age six, sure, maybe. Shoot a man with a flintlock: of course, if you have the cool eye of a hawk and the heart of a killer. Use a whip to dash out the eyeballs of a miscreant at twelve paces with Zorro-like aplomb? Sure, all fanboys like gorgeous girls with whips. But the daughter of the Governor, trained in High Tea and minuet, locking a blade in a cor-a-cor while kicking an ape-sized goon in the butt and knocking him headlong over the taffrail? Unless she is from planet Krypton (or Argo, take your pick), nope, she ain’t going to dish out a can of whupass on a trio of brutes twice her size (for a sum total of six times her size, unless I miscount). One too many scenes looked like the writers were indulging in the modern fetish for masculinizing womenfolk. I don’t like seeing pretty little girls get punched in the face over and over again, so why should I want to see them in a prizefight? If the girl does not need rescuing, why is Orlando Bloom there?

No: I want to see Keira, Queen of the High Sea, parley her way out of (or into) trouble like she did inthe first film, or think her way out. No one character should be both Jane AND Tarzan.

None of the swordfights had that over-the-top cleverness of the duel between three men on top of a turning mill wheel that the second movie had, or the scene where three characters with two swords had to keep passing them back and forth to fend off their attackers.

Norrington dies a chump death. It was not as chumpish a death as Wash the pilot died in Serenity (which was merely Josh Whedon’s biting his thumb at his audience) but it was pretty chumpish. Norrington should have gone down like Boromir under a hundred swords while holding the pass to let the good guys escape.

The scene where Captain Sparrow is talking to himself (and/or stabbing himself) while in the land of the dead was boring and overlong. (Sorry, I am not a Jack Sparrow fan: I do  not see the appeal of the character, who looks like a smelly drunk to me.) I would have liked more Orlando Bloom, who had a truly noble motivation, and less of Johnny Depp, who comes across to me like Uncle Fester.

It is innately hard to have a film where the main good guys are the pirates: where Keira the Beautiful tries to make a “St. Crispen’s Day” speech, she refers to ideals not really in keeping with the whole piracy thing, which is about looting and killing.

Also, Keira does not convince me she means any of it — her oratory just sounds shrill, not rousing. Unfortunately, when women raise their voices in anger, it sounds like screaming, not like a marine sergeant  putting backbone into fainting spines. For women to orate, they have to stay calm and regal a la Queen Elizabeth the First (But I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England, too — and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe should dare to invade the borders of my realm; the which, rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms…). That is the kind of talk that makes men stand in the breach and receive grapeshot.

The main baddie, after being so sinister and  calm during the last film and the first half  of this film, merely gets blank eyed when his final defeat looms. It was not convincing, not set up, and it made no sense.

The end was disappointing. If Keira the Supergirl is the equal of any man in swordfight and seafight, why exactly is she left behind on the beach waving bye-bye with her hanky, instead of sailing off in the sunset aboard her husband’s ship?

No follow-through on several plot points: what happens with Calypso and Davy Jones? Even a momentary reaction shot of grief or whatever would have done wonders. What was that bit about the singing at the beginning? Why was Bootstrap suddenly all bonkers in the, what, two month or less since the events in the second movie?

SUM UP: very minor complaints. Very major compliments. Tons of wow and gosh. Go see this film if you saw the other two: they do a good job with it.

Other reviewers have complained about the complications of the plot. Come on, guys. This is not rocket science. This is not even Hitchcock. See the Second Movie on DVD the night before you go out and see this one, so you can keep track of who’s who and what’s what. You don’t need a scorecard.

I mean, for a film based on a ride at Disneyland, this is a darn fine bit of craftsmanship. It is quite a ride.