Opening Night of Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds’ End

25 May

Do I deserve a rap on the knuckles with a wooden ruler? Or the Parent of the Year Award? I dunno which, but I can tell you it was worth it to keep my ten-year-old son up waaaaay past his bedtime for last night’s 8:00 p.m. showing of Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds’ End.

AWE first show in BostonHad we not seen the first show, we might not have seen so many pirates decked out in their finest regalia! Curse my poor camera phone . . . lots of pirates kindly let me take their pictures, but only one picture came out even vaguely viewable. Thank you, anonymous young pirates! We certainly couldn’t have hoped for a better audience to watch the film with.

[MAJOR spoilers from this point on, proceed at your own risk.] I’d been keeping my expectations low, as I was disappointed in Dead Man’s Chest. And I was pleasantly surprised. The movie doesn’t quite rise to the level of Curse of the Black Pearl, but it takes full advantage of the depth of key characters, and take them to the next level. In many ways this is Keira Knightley’s movie, as she not only ascends to Pirate King, but also marries her longtime sweetheart in the funniest, most romantic sequence in the film. And of course Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow is always brilliant. But this time Orlando Bloom finally becomes the gritty, ruthless pirate Elizabeth has longed for, and Geoffrey Rush plays a surprisingly key role as the pivot for many of the complicated relationships in the film. Sadly, Chow Yun Fat dies far too soon. But Keith Richards’ brief cameo is spot-on, and exactly the right dose.

There’s a very nice little nod to the POTC ride, just as you’re entering Worlds’ End. I’m sure there were plenty more ride references in there, but not as readily apparent as those in the earlier films. Anybody spot any Hidden Mickeys?

I was surprised and delighted by the open (some might say heavy-handed) political commentary in the film. The chilling opening sequence reads like a membership solicitation from the American Civil Liberties Union. And when the pirates begin to sing their song of unity and protest, I could almost imagine them breaking into The Internationale. Really quite heartwarming for a leftie like myself.

And of course, the movie resolves the major themes of the POTC trilogy, while setting the stage quite effectively for POTC 4 (Jim Hill mentioned on this week’s Magical Definition Podcast that this is slated for release in 2010 or 2011, pending Johnny Depp’s availability, and if you’re a POTC fan you really wanna listen to that podcast for Hill’s indepth comments on POTC).

But I’ll confess, I’m not too eager yet for the next POTC. The franchise has declined a bit in coherence of narrative structure, and I’d like to see the producers have a little breathing room before conceptualizing Jack’s next adventure. And even with the excellent special effects in POTC: AWE, who knows what technical advances might mean for the next time around? Let’s give these characters a rest, and come back to them fresh a good while down the road.

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