Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At Wits’ End

Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End

Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)

Before we went in to see this film, my younger daughter was complaining about the dreadfully unfunny video she’d been shown in German class that day. She particularly objected to a sketch involving a car driving wildly through a town; at the end of the sketch the driver gets out of the car and we see he’s wearing dark glasses and carrying a white stick.

Practically all the gags and pratfalls in PotC At World’s End are blind driver jokes. You keep waiting for the laugh track to start.

I got the distinct impression that since the scenario is molecule-thin, somebody thought it would be a jolly good wheeze to (a) crowd as many people as possible into every scene and (b) use every idea brainstormed at the first production meeting, no matter how much it broke pace or was at odds with the story. No wonder many critics have described it as “messy”. Looking for the plot in this is like raking through a huge pile of multicoloured cloth to find a single thread.

It’s also far too long as a result. Even Jack Sparrow’s first appearance is overlong and – well – boring.

Acting? What acting? Plenty of overacting, although I grant you it’s the only way to liven up such one-dimensional characters. The first PotC (Curse of the Black Pearl) also included OTT acting, but at least it was tightly controlled and actually added to the film, rather than scuppering it. Here it’s all very sloppy and self-indulgent; again pace suffers horribly, and as you glance yet again at your watch you realise that the end is not yet nigh, far from it.

The vaunted action scenes also soon begin to pall. Being repetitive is bad enough, totally unbelievable special effects don’t help, but the slapstick comedy some clown thought necessary to include in them is the coup de grâce.

I won’t discuss the makeup as to do it truly justice would involve using words that my children object to.

This being a DismalDisney perpetration, I wouldn’t know where to start in listing all the atrocious liberties taken with classic myth, history and computer-generated images. When you start mixing Davy Jones’s Locker, a synonym for the ocean floor and the final destination for the bodies of those lost at sea, with the Flying Dutchman, then turn the sea nymph Calypso into a goddess and, finally, provide what looks like 100 CGI English fighting ships for the Great Sea Battle, well disbelief weighs so heavy you just can’t suspend it any more. Pour over all this vast amounts thick, syrupy music with about as much snap as a soggy match and the film quickly begins to grate.

There is of course the standard Cute Cuddly Creature (the monkey), and it’s a symptom of the depths to which this film has sunk that it’s actually one of the better bits. That, and Keith Richards as Pa Sparrow. There’s supposed to be a Special Treat after the credits, but we couldn’t be bothered to stay and find out.

Verdict: Don’t waste your time and money on this film. Go rent the DVD of Curse of the Black Pearl and watch that instead.

I’ve just seen that Richard Schickel of Time magazine also thought of the Wits’ End gag. Oh well.

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