Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End

If you haven't watched the first two installments of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and you decide to watch this one (if not for anything else, just to find out what the fuss is all about), it is very likely that you will not follow what's going on. You might even start cursing yourself for not taking a quick refresher course of the first two films before venturing for the third. But don't worry. Even Pirates veterans – a category I would like to put me in - find themselves in exactly the same situation. Whether you're experienced or a first-timer, your thoughts will exactly be the same – what the hell's going on?

A coherent plot is not a virtue even the hugely entertaining first film – The Curse of the Black Pearl - can boast of. What worked there was Johnny Depp's outstanding portrayal of the quirky Captain Jack Sparrow. Through an Academy Award nominated performance, he created an iconic character that was instantly loved by one and all.

The second film – Dead Man's Chest – went a step ahead. It included a lot more convoluted plot elements that were difficult to follow. Again, Captain Jack Sparrow's persona rescued the film from mediocrity. Not to mention the plot device that added a delicious pun in the film's title – a live, beating heart kept in a 'dead man's chest'….. body part, chest, box – get it?

Now comes At World's End – a perfect exemplification of the law of diminishing returns. Emboldened by the enormous box-office success of the second film, the filmmakers try to make this one bigger – in terms of scale, plot, characters, SFX, what have you. But it doesn't come even close to the funny brilliance of the first, or even the second. By virtue of an over-crowded plot, what you finally get is an incoherent, convoluted, over-plotted mishmash. You might start with the good intentions of wanting to follow the plot, but it's just too much to warrant any comprehension. I, for one, gave up after the very disappointing first 30 minutes. It just wasn't worth it.

After a while, what was happening on the screen didn't really matter. I just longed for Jack Sparrow to make an appearance and redeem the show. The wait was quite agonizing because it seemed that Jack - at the behest of the screenwriters, of course - was in no mood to grace us with his appearance just yet. And when he did, we saw not one, not two, but tens of Jack Sparrow on screen. Fantastic, I thought. It's party time now!

Not really. My excitement was terribly short-lived. Despite the fact that the film is agonizingly long, the screen time given to Jack Sparrow is unpardonably short. Let me put it another way, the length is agonizing because Jack Sparrow is criminally neglected. What were the filmmakers thinking? It's outright blasphemy! I mean, how could they even think of sidelining a character who is the only reason for the franchise to have worked thus far?

On the whole, At World's End is boring! I think someone should make a version where everything else but Jack Sparrow is edited out of the film. It might be a disjointed and plot-less 'short film', but infinitely more watchable and engrossing than this over-plotted exercise in tedium.