Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Pirates of the Caribbean: At The World's End

“The immaterial has become material,” declares the East India Company’s plotting Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander) early in “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”. He could be referring to the recent resurrection of the pirate Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), flush with life and his extended part in the trilogy. Or he could talk about his newfound dominion over the Flying Dutchman and its squid-faced captain, Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), whose uncovered heart is now in Beckett’s possession.

More likely, however, the words are a subliminal reassurance from the director, Gore Verbinski. After the bloated shenanigans of the past entry, “Dead Man’s Chest” – maybe the main pirate movie to see the need for a Ferris wheel – Mr. Verbinski is reminding us why we ought to ever trust him again.

This third part in the swishy, swashbuckling saga goes some path toward achieving that goal. The cannibals, coconuts, and landlocked areas have been replaced by the high-seas high jinks that made the first movie so enjoyable. And the unmistakable relief as the myriad plot-lines rush toward some similarly of determination has made everybody very wired; even our passion-deferred lovers, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann (Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley), show up marginally less bored with each other. Or if nothing else less bored than we are with them.

Taped sequentially with its predecessor, “At World’s End” is less concerned with ends than inversions, exhibiting a society where the lawless practice democracy and their rulers take part in oppression. The crown has declared a stage of the emergency, civil rights have been suspended, and naysayers are lined up to be hanged.

In one of the film’s most bizarre sequences, the condemned start to sing, belting out a requiem among the moving tumbrils and swaying nooses. (Tardy audience may think they have faltered into an execution of “Les Misérables” by mistake). The tune reaches Elizabeth, in a skiff heading for the Pirate Brethren Court in Shipwreck Cove, and for some time the movie turns into a watery opera with a distinctly Oriental flavor.

When Chow Yun-Fat shows up, as the grumpy pirate Lord Sao Feng – complete with the entourage of old-Hollywood coolies – the Gilbert and Sullivan vibe is starting to wear. After electing Elizabeth pirate king (the Brethren know who wears the trousers in this trilogy), the pirates set out to clobber the British before Davy Jones and his seafood combo crew can do likewise to them.

This will require a little help of the priestess Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris), whose part has clarified yet whose word usage stays incoherent. “Therr is a cahst to be ped en thah end”, she warns mysteriously, mangling her vowels like a voodoo delivery of Inspector Clouseau.

Having blown Tia to Godzilla size, however, the screenwriters, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, have no further use for her; in her new incarnation as the sorceress Calypso she adds up to slightly more than crabs and raging wind. Considering she is managed only one conjugal visit every 10 years – and that from a man who inhales through a blowhole – her bad temper is altogether justifiable.

Be that as it may, what of Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow? Taking after his unfortunate encounter with a giant cephalopod at the end of the last movie, this one finds him trapped and hallucinating in Davy Jones’ Locker, a dry limbo of rolling dunes and raging heat. Since he is Jack, his hallucinations are all about himself (the real love affair in these movies has always been between Jack and his mirror), and Mr. Verbinski fills the screen with a multitude of mincing clones in kohl eyeliner and fancy headscarves.

Forever above the fray and beside the point, Mr. Depp’s devilish buccaneer is the light-footed device that holds the franchise together; as he sashays from battle to bar, impervious to insult and musket alike, Jack’s extremely narcissism is his security. He is an inverse superhero.

In spite of the fact that the film is loaded with the expected special-effects wizardry, its most stunning and surreal moments are also the most peaceful: an army of crabs transporting the Black Pearl over dunes and into the sea, and a flaming sunrise viewed through tattered seaweed sails. A disappointing cameo by Keith Richards, still alive and flaunting the look of hard- won dissemination that reportedly motivated Jack’s personal style, is in a special-effects category of its own.

Because of the abundance of unpleasant human characters, all of whom lie, cheat and sell out each other at the drop of a wallow, the weight of making an enthusiastic association with the audience must be borne, ironically, by characters whose mankind has since a long time ago evaporated. From the pathos of Davy – still playing the organ like an invertebrate Phantom of the Opera – to the tragic longing in the barnacle-encrusted face of Bootstrap Bill Turner (Stellan Skarsgard), “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” reminds us that incredible acting can rise above even the most elaborate makeups.

Indeed, even in this way, if the story is to continue, its makers will require more than Jack’s limp wrists and Will’s limp resolve. In the prophetic words of Barbossa, “There’s never an indemnity of comin’ back, but passin’ on – that’s certain.”

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). It has scary battles, scary monsters, and even scarier rock musicians.

Written by Sukanya Roy
Artist, Critic, Writer, Photographer, Movie buff, Graphic Designer, Literature and Geography enthusiast, Soccer fan, and Imaginative.

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