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Friday May 25, 2007 11:33 am

Is Pirates Worth the Hype?

Disney Logo Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean was a surprise success – able to delight both children and adults, the flick pulled in big star power and even bigger box office numbers. That’s quite an achievement for a movie that was, essentially, based upon a theme park ride. The slick production, clever acting, high-priced sets, and interesting costumes all make the third installment to this multi-million-dollar franchise look wonderful. But…is it actually worth the time and money that moviegoers will have to invest?

At nearly three hours long, At World’s End feels less like the Pirates attraction and more like the never-ending It’s a Small World tunnel. Children will love the silly gags, amazing effects, high-action drama, and the sword fighting. But, it holds almost none of the appeal of the first film and does little to fix the damage wrought by the second (Dead Man’s Chest, which was one action sequence after another, coupled with a quickly-confusing script and a few plot twists that made audiences scratch their heads and go “am I in the right theater?”).

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The movie picks up right where the last left us, with Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) trapped in Davy Jones’ locker. The British East India Tea Company continues to act like zealots, with Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) hanging pirates (and their friends) to little success. Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) calls together a meeting of the area pirates, but they can hardly hold the meeting without Sparrow. Why this boozed-up, slightly washed-up pirate is so important is anyone’s guess, but all the same Barbossa strikes out with Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) to the “end of the world” to bring back Jack. Where is the end of the world? There isn’t one – but good luck to all the parents out there who have to explain the geography to their kids. Traditionally, Disney movies have paid little attention to pesky details like historical accuracy, the truth of physics and geography, and the difference between truth and fiction. If Pocahontas didn’t illustrate this enough, Disney is set to release a new full-length animated tale about a surfing penguin (who rides a whale to reach his destiny) that they’re quite seriously touting as a true story. In Pirates, the world is populated by crazy sea storms, unbelievable monsters, and an odd mix of legend and fantasy portrayed as a fairly serious plot - it all makes it increasingly difficult for moviegoers to make sense of the movie. The ghost ship The Flying Dutchman returns in At World’s End, and viewers will get a glimpse of a whole host of pirates gathered together in one locale. Loyalty isn’t a factor in At World’s End – the backstabbing runs rampant. Yet another fabulous lesson for all the kids who watch the film - if they can even bring themselves to get near the ocean ever again.

Pirates is certainly entertaining, a true spectacle for the eyes. There are some laughs, some interesting moments, and Depp (as always) is nothing short of delightful. But the confusing mishmash of drama, action, love, and betrayal is more than a little hard to follow, and at the end of the day it’s really all quite forgettable. If you loved the second movie, by all means go and watch the third. It’s right up your alley.



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