Short reaction: it's a fun and audacious movie that plays around with a lot of really cool ideas, but unfortunately you also have to sit through the other hour and a half.
The feeling I came away with is a bit like having a bowl of cereal with only three pieces of really tasty banana in it. Or perhaps more appropriately, like trying to surf on an off-weather day: you see a wave developing, heading your way, building up steam; and you get ready to paddle into it, and you're just about there and it's getting higher and higher, and the music is swelling and it's about to crest; and then it...just subsides...and flaps loosely at the shore, and instead of a swordfight or a sea monster, it turns out the scene is building up toward the English guy telling us AGAIN how he's got this heart and that makes Davy Jones his bitch, and you bob idly on your board, realizing how hot and sticky the weather is, and wondering why anyone would divide 20 minutes of Chow-Yun Fat screen time into 5 minutes fighting and 15 talking.
Most of the early reactions I'd heard described World's End as generally too talky, and there was a lot of plot flapping around loose from the end of the previous installment, so I went in expecting to sit through a lot of exposition between action set pieces. Despite what you may have heard, though, Pirates the 3rd doesn't waste a whole lot of time on exposition. It wastes a whole lot of time on just talking.
Right from the beginning -- once we get past the gallows sing-along before the titles -- we see Elizabeth Swan stand there and talk to some Chinese guys, and then Barbossa comes up to talk to them, and the Chinese guys take them to talk to Sao Feng, who talks about how he found Will trying to steal some stuff; meanwhile, under the building, the other pirates are talking about their part in this plan. Then Sao Feng uncovers another spy, and they talk a bit more about who's working for whom, until it turns out the Evil British Guys are here and an actual action scene begins. This lasts about three minutes or so.
After that everybody spends the next ninety minutes standing around talking. And sitting around talking. And pointing guns at each other and talking, and standing on a dead sea monster and talking, and assembling entire armadas against each other so they can go to an island and spend three minutes walking, and then talking some more, about who gets to go talk to some other people. What they don't spend a lot of time doing is explaining much of anything -- although the six or seven answers we ever actually do get are hammered on, over and over, with all the music and editing acting like we're supposed to be surprised each time, for a cumulative effect like someone doing 'got your nose!' repeatedly for three hours while you're TRYING TO WATCH A FUCKING PIRATE FLICK.
Stab Davy Jones's heart and you free him from eternal damnation by taking his place! Threaten to shoot the heart with cannons and he'll totally become your bitch! Davy Jones used to be in love with some Calypso chick! Scary voodoo lady sure must be talking about someone other than herself when she goes into 'air beeg AY-MOE-SHA-NALL MA-NA-LAGS abouwat 'ow Dyay-veh Jones wans lawv AY woo-MON, right? Right? Davy Jones is TOTALLY this English guy's tool! Totally! Until later when he just says fuck that and strangles the evil guy's henchman guy! Oh, and there's this Sea Goddess named Calypso, who is TOTALLY not the scary voodoo chick! Totally! Oh, hey, wait for it, wait for it -- WHOA! Turns out the Sea Goddess is VOODOO CHICK! And Davy Jones was totally in love with her once! And then he's all 'you betrayed me' and she's all 'yeah k c I'm a fucking Goddess we do that shit' and he's all 'yeah I know, so fuck off kthx' and that's how that tragic love story ends.
Later, she gets real big and turns to crabs.
Offscreen, Elizabeth's father is murdered; we learn this when he quietly floats past in a ghost boat and they talk about him being dead. Offscreen, the Kraken is killed and left to rot on a beach; Will and Barbossa stand on the carcass and talk about it. Offscreen, between the end of the previous film and the beginning of this one, the Evil English Guy forces an arrangement on Davy Jones whereby Jones does what Evil Guy says or Evil Guy shoots his heart with cannons; but at least we do see them reiterate this basic I-got-your-heart arrangement at least five times.
Presumably offscreen, somebody explains how being able to go on shore only once every ten years is a problem for Will and his girlfriend THE PIRATE KING or Davy Jones and his girlfriend THE OCEAN.
Finally, at around the last half hour, everyone stops talking for a bit, two black ships sail into a big ol' whirlpool and some of the coolest ship battle stuff ever happens. The shipboard wedding all by itself is damn near worth all the rest. Then that part is over, they blow up the Evil English Death Star Flagship and everything's cool except Will is the sailor grim reaper now.
But before that we've got the real show-stopper, the centerpiece, the titular concept. Remember at the end of part II when we found out that everyone was going to go sailing into the no-shit Land of the Dead to retrieve Cap'n Jack? Like, they go sailing over the edge of the world, for real, out in to the Sea Beyond, the afterlife, the underworld, Davy Jones's Locker, that dark bourne from which no soul shall evermore depart. There, we've just been reminded a few moments before the ship goes over the big drop, Jack Sparrow is even more dead and damned than Barbossa was; he is, we are informed, effectively trapped in his own personal Hell.
In the first film they gave us creepy undead skeletal pirates, then upped the ante in the second with some horribly squishy, Lovecraftian walking sea-horrors and a hideous if Sarlaacian sea monster, and now in the third film we are fuckin psyched to see what kind of creepity-ghosty-piratey Hellscape the folks in the SFX department have cooked up.
It's Utah. Fucking Salt Lake.
Turns out Jack Sparrow's personal Hell is to run out of gas just outside SLC and be forced to listen to the crap that comes out of his mouth while he 'gets into character'. Some rocks turn into crabs and move his boat to the shore just in time for the other party to arrive with the magic bamboo map, and I swear that not one word of that is a joke. Later they see some underwater nightgown ghosts and some ghosts in the first-class boat-seated section. And that's pretty much it for the land of the dead in this movie.
As you'd expect, there are some challenges to pass when dragging a lost and damned soul from the very clutches of the merciless cold hand of Davy Jones, out of the vale of Death itself and back to the land of the living.
Well, there's a challenge. Kind of a challenge. Something you gotta do, anyway. You might figure this one out ahead of the characters, if you're well enough read in occult lore to know what 'up' and 'down' are. Turns out the secret key to retrieving a soul from death is that you got to turn your boat over.
So they do that, and la-la-la, Jack's back all alive again. Then they sail over to Pirate Town to talk to some people, and then a bit later the cool part of the movie happens.
Finally Sparrow turns part of the magic map and it spells out 'Tune in next summer for Pirates IV: Search for the Fountain of Youth', and if you stay past the credits there's an extra scene that will come as a complete surprise if you fell asleep early in the film and didn't wake up until just then.
All that said, I didn't dislike the movie. I suspect it'll benefit from repeat viewing in a lot of ways (once it reaches non-new-release rental) and I think it was worth the ticket. Basically the film never drew me far enough in to forget about the roomful of fidgety, coughing strangers around me, and losing track of the real world for a while is more or less what I came for.
On the plus side, there was an extended trailer for Transformers, and -- whoa -- I mean -- they're like all, a jet flying and then it turns into a robot and drops down and then goes all jet again, and, and, like, it's Optimus Prime, man, but he's like real and there's an Autobot symbol on the shitty old car steering wheel and and and...No, seriously. You know how at the beginning of X-Men 2 they do the teleporter-kicking-ass just right and show you why it's a cool concept? Here's transforming robots. I'm telling you, even if the trailer contains every single second of the movie that isn't pure suck, those thirty seconds are still worth the admission. Man.
Current Location: ahoy
Current Mood: grumpy
Current Music: Yo ho, yo ho, this song shoulda been in the film