Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)

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*. 143, 150, 168. 140, 225, 300. 654.3, 1,066, 963.4.
*. The first set of numbers gives the running time (in minutes of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies). The second set gives the budgets, in millions of dollars. The third is box office, again in millions of dollars.
*. So it’s been a growth industry up until the end, when the take fell off. Audiences had been pounded into submission, or at least a state of numbness, by that point. It should have been the end of the franchise, but Disney would continue to beat a dead horse.
*. In my notes on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest I called that film Part 2(a). This is Part 2(b), but it might be 2(b) and (c) as it feels like two movies. And these three movies combined make up an epic that’s seven-and-a-half hours long.
*. I don’t mean that it drags though. It moves pretty well, and the battle in the maelstrom is exciting and spectacularly rendered. They knew they had to go out with something more than just another sea battle, and they delivered. Meanwhile, Beckett’s demise in a kind of Zabriskie Point disintegration shot is anti-climax, but fitting for such a bland character.
*. I really didn’t like the opening, with the mass hangings. The note being struck is glum and ponderous, and had me worried that the rest of the movie was going to take itself much too seriously. It’s also a surprisingly dark introduction.
*. Dark and rather gruesome. Disney really pushed their envelope with these films, and this is easily the most violent of them all. We get to see lots of people being run through with swords, a torn-out beating heart stuck with a knife, and Davy Jones, while strangling one of the villains with his tentacles, shooting one tentacle into the victim’s mouth and having it come out his nose. That’s a bit of nastiness that wouldn’t be out of place in an adult horror film.
*. When I first saw that Chow Yun-fat was in this movie, and being given prominent billing, I assumed he’d have a larger role. As it turns out, Sao Feng is a pretty much useless character, and quickly disposed of along the way. Much the same could be said of Naomie Harris’s Tia Dalma/Calypso. I thought she was being set up for a more important part to play in the final film, but in the end her release from mortal bonds accomplishes next to nothing.
*. Tokenism with the film’s only non-white leads? I’m reluctant to jump on this wagon, but let’s face it: Captain Sao Feng is only a lecherous Fu Manchu of the high seas, and Tia Dalma a voodoo-talkin’ witch doctor. You couldn’t ask for two more blatant stereotypes.
*. I think they did the best they could to wrap things up. All the characters get tidied away, and the fate of Will and Elizabeth wasn’t what I was expecting. I think it could, and should, have been at least half an hour shorter, but as noted above they had to go out with a bang. All the mystic pirate lore and mythology is way overdone, and I thought the proceedings needed a lighter touch, but in the end this is the kind of big-budget, big-screen entertainment that people wanted to go to a theatre to see in the twenty-first century. And they got what they came for.

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