The Power of Three Pirates, Shrek and Spidey Three
It should come as no surprise to those who know me and of my writing, and of my sympathy for symmetry, my relish of repetition and my delight in triptychs that a summer with THREE trilogies posting their THIRD chapter within weeks of one another - well it’s a Llakor summer is all and that’s that for good and for ill.
Lord knows there is a danger in the third episode. You don’t have the frisson of the discovery that you get in the first chapter and you don’t have the satisfaction of hitting your groove and avoiding the mistakes that you made at the start. There is the danger that the third chapter may consist of just the best elements lost or discarded from the first two films, stitched together like some patch-work monster and zpped with electricity in the hopes that blinding your audience with the arcing neon will hide the scars and the stitches and the needle still dangling from the monster’s neck.
That certainly seems to have been the case with Spidey 3 and Shrek 3. There are moments that sink, jokes that work and images that linger.
Spidey gives us the picture perfect portrayal of Sandman from his origin, to his tweener status, to his doltish inability to learn from his mistakes. We are reminded that what separates Peter Parker from most of his enemies is the power of his intellect tempered by his compassion. Peter learns from his mistakes, his greatest mistake is his greatest motivation. Sandman, like Spidey’s other enemies, makes his mistakes over and over again.
Shrek gives us a few laughs here and there and one glorious moment like the best Shrek moments that takes a fairy tale trope weds it to song and turns the trope upside down. Snow White confronts two monstrous evil trees armed only with the power of her singing and the woodland creatures that her song attracts. We are reminded naturally as we are supposed to the harmless Snow White of the Disney films, and we imagine for a minute that Snow White is just a victim, just a distraction for the other more heroic women. Then the music turns dangerous and morphs into the Wilson Sister’s Barracuda and we are reminded of something that the Shrek films have professed all along: women even in fairy tales are not helpless, they can kick ass. The movie floats briefly on the power of that insight and the chords of that song.
But in both cases these are momentary flashes of brilliance, flickering fragments and isolated couplets. These films do not sing.
What sweet irony it is that the third film of the three threes should be the greatest. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly instead of Halloween 3.
World’s End bursts into song (quite literally) from the very first moments of the film, and at the same time it warns us in the most somber of tones that this film will not simply be a romp, that this story will be for the most important stakes possible, that this will be a story about freedom and slavery, love and destiny, immortality and death.
The other irony at work here is that compared to the other two films, World’s End does not have great set-pieces that stand apart from the film. The film lacks the great sword-fight in the blacksmith’s shop from the first Pirates, there is no real counterpart to the fight in the rolling wheel of the second.
This film seems more at times to be a travelogue taking us to places that we have never seen, except perhaps in the feverish imaginations of Terry Gilliam. Not to say that there aren’t wonderful moments of which the introduction of Chow Yun Fat and of Keith Richards rank high, but the film wisely believes that the sum is greater than the parts and all the moments serve to build to a greater whole.
Pirates has always treated its minor characters with respect giving them more moments and a greater arc than many major characters in other films. This film is no different as it uses minor characters to answer questions that we never thought to ask with the secret of a dog’s key, a pirate's wooden eye and a voodoo woman’s love for crabs.
It also provides a satisfying if slightly heart-breaking resolution for the fates of many of the characters, fates that are true to their natures, destinies that resonate, while returning some characters to where they started.
If you have been avoiding the sequels of summer, this is the three to see.
You know, some people found the sequel excessive and convoluted, but I thought it was good fun and was well delighted to see the characters again. Then I found the sequel sequel ... excessive and convoluted. Nuts.
Heretofore, I'd greatly enjoyed all the ship-hopping and doublecrosses and double-doublecrosses. This time I really had no idea what was going on, between stacks full of newfangled/oldfangled pirate mythology and all sorts of other crap going on with the dozens of forces at odds.
So bloated and muddled are things that we no longer have adequate time for previous characters -- two of whom, Elizabeth's dad and the great man Commandant Norrington, get written out right quick after barely enough contribution to get IMDB listed. That's to say nothing of JACK SPARROW HIMSELF, who's only in like half the film (or 80 of its discouragingly tedious 160 minutes).
Also squeezed out: all the jokes and irreverence, apparently excised to make room for the vast exposition of, yes, the newfangled/oldfangled pirate mythology and all sorts of other crap going on with the dozens of forces at odds.
Most annoying, I guess, is how the first film ended in such tidy and charming perfection, and the second one unraveled that but set up what sounded like a delicious premise for the threepeat: the dudes having to team up with the returning Barbosa to go rescue Jack. And Geoffrey Rush is really great here, but un-port-unately, that aspect gets wrapped up right away and from there it's on to goings-on that ultimately leave characters and the story unbalanced and worse off than everyone and everything was at the end of P1, undoing a lot of that tidy charm.
I was willing to look the other way about certain aspects of Spider-Man 3 that I wished could've been better while ultimately enjoying the film. I was all set to do that here, but could not. Alas. Avast.
I was disappointed by Pirates 3. As JS says, there is too many new stuff being brought in and that made part of the movie rather boring. By the time it is supposed to pick again I wasn't so much into it anymore and was just hoping they would do the whole stand-off in a few short minutes.
Not to say that Depp wasn't brilliant again as Captain Jack Sparrow. Though the stuff where he talks to himself was rather overdone too. But other than that, the character is still charming and amazing.
What I perhaps found most disappointing of all was that with all the plot-twists that had to be shoved in there, the relation & feelings between Will Turner and Elizabeth were underused. There was a lot to tell there but they didn't.
I liked it a lot, too, although I also didn't like it as much as the second one. Geoffrey Rush absolutely walked away with this picture, in my opinion. As good as Johnny Depp has been throughout the three movies, I don't think I liked anything he did in any of the movies as much I liked Barbossa conducting the wedding. I think this movie is going to do really, really well at the box office, and I think there's actually enough steam in the franchise for them to do Pirates 4.
I ended up seeing it again tonight due to forces beyond my control. It made a good bit more sense now and was actually rather nifty in how the plot points dotted each other along. It felt pretty epic/epoch this time around, and I picked up on some swell touches, like the Dead Man's Chest bonking that same fishpirate again. I still thought it lacked much of the glee and laughs of the priors, and should've had more Jack-Will-Liz interactions. That wedding scene is pretty phenomenal.
I said about the last Pirates that I liked it, but I thought it lacked charm. I think the same about this one. As its own movie, I think that it was a lot of fun. Gore Verbinski and the writing staff did a great job of paying attention to all the little details about the last two movies, which made the sight gags and things in this one really fun. I also liked that they gave Johnny Depp a little time to "play" in this one, and let him be charismatic rather than give him the bulk of exposition like they did in the last one.
On the other hand, I think it felt like they were just trying to do too much and ended up accomplishing not enough. The first movie was great because it was so...unassuming. It was just Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Depp and, to a lesser extent, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley chewing up scenery and making jokes. The two subsequent movies did a great job of emphasising plot and making the series feel "epic" but to the detriment of the characters and the charm of the original, I think.
I'm not a big fan of Norrington getting the shaft in this one. I like *how* he dies, but I think that it was ultimately poorly handled for such a major character in the series. For what it's worth, I wasn't a big fan of the "fate of Will Turner" either. Mostly because it was completely incongrous with how the table was set in the first film.
And ultimately, I think that's the problem with Pirates 3, for me anyway. The characters, more or less, get put in their own little boxes to serve the greater good of the "plot," which is good, but it's not great. Then again, it's a strange movie that gets away with child hangings, flying monkeys, goddesses, and pratfalls all in the same breath....
That said, if they wanted to make the fourth one they hinted at near the end, I'd be there.
I was disappointed. It was too long and the MULTIPLE crossing and double crossing I found ridiculous. They just kept on adding plot points and different characters that just went nowhere for no reason at all except as filler.
So far this summer the 3rd installments of some of my favorite movies have been duds. I'm hoping Oceans 13 and The Bourne Ultimatum fare better.
Kraken and Norrington really got the shaft. Governor Swann's demise gives Elizabeth her vengeful motivation for the rest of the movie, but I wish he'd been used more too. After finding out that Will/Liz actually do get a happy ending after the ten years are up, those are the only things that really bother me about the movie, and the rest I deem very good.
Originally posted by JustinShapiroKraken and Norrington really got the shaft. Governor Swann's demise gives Elizabeth her vengeful motivation for the rest of the movie, but I wish he'd been used more too. After finding out that Will/Liz actually do get a happy ending after the ten years are up, those are the only things that really bother me about the movie, and the rest I deem very good.
I kind of thought that Will & Liz had their one day right then, then Will had to take off for ten years, as opposed to them having to wait ten years first. I also expected Liz to have stolen the Pearl at the end.
I thought Johnny Depp was fantastic, as usual. "Nobody move, I just dropped my brain."
Holy fuck shit motherfucker shit. Read comics. Fuck shit shit fuck shit I sold out when I did my job. Fuck fuck fuck shit fuck. Sorry had to do it....
Revenge of the Sith = one thumb up from me. Fuck shit. I want to tittie fuck your ass. -- The Guinness. to Cerebus
I kind of thought that Will & Liz had their one day right then, then Will had to take off for ten years, as opposed to them having to wait ten years first.
Yeah, I guess that was their first day, and then in the now-requisite post-credits scene which I missed, Will comes back to that island ten years later to find Lizzy and their ten-year-old son. This has been explained on The Internet as, because Elizabeth was faithful for those ten years, unlike Calypso, Will's curse is broken after ten years (with another flash of green signifying his comeback). I would've preferred that those kind of important tidbits be mentioned in the film proper and not rely on secret scenes and exposition by the filmmakers, but at least I can be relieved that those crazy kids didn't get an undeservedly sad ending.
For the sake of completeness, let's talk about the other new Wednesday night comedy on NBC. Or not. This was a miss. The jokes weren't really funny. Every one of the peripheral characters at the office are *bad*.