Third time this May we found ourselves in Studio 28's Theatre #1 and watching a third movie (second sequel) in a series (Spiderman 3, Shrek the Third) Last year's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest was the Empire Strikes Back of the series, leaving us with a clear cliffhanger and a-man-in-danger, as I mentioned on 7 July 2006:
The perfect cliffhanger, whether in the middle of an episode or between episodes, is one where we leave one of our protags in an impossible situation from which there is no possible hope of escape. The escape, which may be simple or simply improbable (grin), is going to be a lot of fun or a good laugh. These crafty Pirates deliver on all these scores as well. And, well, the dead just don't do a good job of staying dead in these movies...
Pirates has managed through three films to transcend most of the pitfalls of Dr. Phil's Rule of Sequels. The first movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (or Mustan helmen kirous) was a glorious romp which can stand up on its own. Pirates 2 needs Pirates 3 -- and Pirates 3 DELIVERS. Payment in full. Your investment of time and money in this series will be rewarded, you scurvy dogs!
Okay, folks, strap this adventure on and try to hold on the ride. This is ONE complicated plot line. It's every man (and woman) for themselves, with interests and betrayals at every turn and multiple overlapping plans and counterplans. Make sure you've brought a large scorecard to keep track of who is on whose side. Okay, we know who the REAL villain is in this movie after Pirates 2, but my oh my do we have fun sending him to his just desserts.
The long awaited special appearance by Keith Richards as Captain Jack Sparrow's dad was really nicely done. And in that series of scenes, we learn just how devious Captain Jack really is. Cool. This is important, because Captain Jack is also, well, a bit mad. And in the doldrums of Davy Jone's Locker near the beginning of the movie, we see Captain Jack's madness personified.
I loved the whole rescuing Captain Jack from the Locker, with its complicated riddles to solve and stunning visuals. Always wanted to watch a sailing ship to fall over the End of the World. (grin) As a movie buff, I was mildly thrown out of two scenes in this section, saying to myself "Well the makers of this film certainly watched The Lord of the Rings... and Harry Potter." But those are minor quibbles -- pass the popcorn.
Part of what makes a great story is that things cost -- there are prices to be paid by the characters. And oh my are the accountants busy with keeping up with the characters.
But don't worry, the formula is safely intact and there's plenty of humor, too. Our favorite pair of sidekicks, the redcoat wordsmith guards and our skinny pirate with the false eye and his shorter compatriot, factor in. Are these the best pirates ever? Or the worst? As per usual, it's a bit of the both -- and that's why we love them all.
We were amazed to discover it was 8:16pm when we got out of the theatre, having gone to a five o'clock showtime. Even allowing for the Previews, this movie is roughly three hours long. Some will no doubt complain that it is too long and drags, but I love it. Look-ee! A full-length movie for the same price as a ninety-minute Spidey flick. Woo-hoo!
This is the strongest ending to a trilogy of movies in a long time. (LOTR almost doesn't count, since it really is just one LONG film shown in three parts.) And there aren't a lot of good pee-breaks scheduled into this movie, so don't buy the biggest drink before you plant yourself in front of the biggest, loudest screen you can find. We saw this on the new DLP digital projection system and 'twas glorious.
The Dr. Phil Special
For those of you who don't think that credits are part of the movie, you've missed some crucial plot details. I told you the dog-with-the-keys would show up in a key scene in Pirates 3. And should there be any pressure to do a Pirates 4, well, we've established a new character with this outing's extra bit. (mmmm)