Remember Back to the Future? If you're old enough, you remember the excitement of the second and third movies being filmed simultaneously, and knowing at the end of the second movie that the third was imminent. Remember how great the second movie was, and then how lame the third one was? I'm feeling much the same way about Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.
If you've been around here much in the last year, you know I'm a big fan of the Pirates franchise. I loved the first movie, and I thought the second one really lived up to my expectations, as far as what should happen, how the characters acted, etcetera. This third one, I came out of the theater wanting a do-over. Like, maybe give the writers a second chance and they could come up with something better. It was, as Marty McFly would say, heavy.
I don't know if the writers were under too much pressure, or if they just ran out of ideas. First off, the references back to the first two movies struck me as lame. For example, characters randomly mentioning sea turtles for no real reason was apparently supposed to be funny, but just fell flat. And attempting to fit the "why is the rum gone?" theme in by having them ask, "Why is all BUT the rum gone?" just came across as forced.
This movie also moved from the realm of fantasy into the much-less-enjoyable realm of mythology. Suddenly, we have a sea goddess trapped in human form, and major strings attached to Will's mission to stab the heart of Davy Jones (and why do I always think of the Monkees when I hear that?). We also have the bizarre locale of "The Locker," where Jack has been sent. The whole scene there bored me, when it was obviously supposed to be funny. The only part of the mythological aspect I liked was the boats going past, but only because it advanced the plot.
And then there is the ending. SO depressing! It's definitely been left open for a fourth film, but two of the main characters are effectively out of the picture. There is a darkness about the whole film, from the beginning in Singapore to the very end. And yet, the plot lacks a truly evil bad guy. Jones, Beckett, Norrington, Barbossa, Calypso, and even Jack and Will, play the bad guy at various points in the movie, but none of them are the really nasty bad guy you can't wait to see suffer. As a result, no one is truly good and heroic either. You can't have a true hero if you don't have true evil.
Now for the positive. I loved the action sequences. The special effects are magnificent, especially the maelstrom sequence. Though again this smacked of the mythological, since it is obviously not physically possible. The acting is superb. Certain aspects of the plot, for example what happens with Will's father, are very nicely resolved. And the opening for the next movie is sheer brilliance. Perhaps they can return to the fun, fantasy world created in the first two movies.
If you haven't already seen it, wait for the DVD. Unless you are a die-hard fan like me.