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Pirates of the Caribbean

I wasn't expecting to see people dressed up for the film today (I thought all the really diehard fans went to the midnight show), but there were about 25 eight-year-olds in costume at the screening I went to. They were too adorable for words, though I honestly wouldn't take an eight-year-old to this film.



Had I known the whole movie was just set-up for the third installment, I would have waited to watch it. I do like this universe (the characters and basic situations), but I've never been able to rewatch the first movie, so going into this I had pretty low expectations. I think that served me well.

This film was at least an hour too long, and I really could have done without 90% of the whole Davy Jones thing, but there were two things I really liked: the last swordfight, and the exploration of what honor means. That last sword-fighting scene was really probably my favorite swordfight in any movie, ever; I absolutely loved how they went BEYOND over the top, and took it all the way into outer space, or whatever the metaphor above "over the top" would be. I was laughing like a complete idiot through the whole thing, especially when the water wheel broke free and they kept fighting on it, and when Elizabeth and the two idiots kept passing around their two swords to fight Davy Jones' men. I thought it was hilarious and fun.

I also liked the exploration of "what honor means" that affected every major character throughout the film. I didn't notice this, particularly, when watching--it came to me when I was reflecting on why the portrayal of Norrington made me crazy. Initially, I didn't like what they did to Norrington's character at the end of the film--I couldn't *believe* he would cave into East Indies Trading Company bad guy like that--but as I think about it *every* major character in the film ends up with her/his honor compromised, and needing to be rectified, in the next film, so I'm still hopeful that they're actually setting Norrington up to have more to do in the next film. I *really* hope he's setting up EITC bad guy in a big way. Otherwise I'm going to be really disappointed, because in the last film Norrington struck me as the person least likely to compromise his honor.

And thinking about this made me realize that the whole plot is driven by devil's bargains, and by the attempt to maintain personal honor in circumstances when you are driven to choose among your loyalties. Governor Swann twice betrays Will to save Elizabeth, entering into a devil's bargain with EITC Badguy similar to Jack's bargain with Davy Jones. Jack is so bedevilled by his own satanic pact that he never really does make the choice to do the right thing in this film, though I loved Elizabeth's conviction that he would surprise even himself someday. Elizabeth remains true to Will, but only at the ultimate sacrifice of Jack (and her own honor) in a scene that actually felt perfect, to me. Elizabeth does have the perfect pragmatism of a pirate, as Jack himself pointed out, and I love how she used his own desires against him, and yet later regretted having made that choice. (I also thought it perfectly fitting that he went down with the Pearl). What is really interesting about Elizabeth's choice, though, was that in choosing faithfulness to Will above Jack, she has inadvertantly convinced Will she is in love with Jack. Since I actually think their triangle is an interesting one (unlike 99% of love triangles in history), I think they might do something worthwhile with this in POTC 3.

And to continue with my theme of honor, Will himself also plays with his honor in this. His first loyalty is to Elizabeth, but he hopes to convince Jack to embrace the cause, working from the paradigm that women should always be protected (I assume) and that Jack will naturally share that conviction. I like that when Jack basically sells him out to Davy Jones, Will feels in no way honor bound to keep bargains with Jones (he wagered his soul but never meant to keep the bargain, it was just a ruse to find out where the key was--there's the pirate in Will!) but he does mean to keep his vow to his father. The fact that he cannot, currently, means that like the others, his honor has been somewhat compromised at the end of the film--but less than anyone else's. I wonder what that will mean for the sequel. I *hope* it means it will have a little more substance and character development, and a little less of the boring action sequences.

It's not that I don't like action romps--like I said, I really enjoyed the swordfighting sequence on the island, and I also even enjoyed the escape-from-cannibals sequence (though don't even get me started on the depiction of race in this movie. Good grief!)--but I would really have liked a little more character development. Will's interactions with his dad were really the only gestures in that direction, and probably for that reason I enjoyed Will a lot more in this movie than most of the other characters. I really wish they had taken half an hour away from sadistic disgusting Davy Jones scenes and given that to Norrington and Elizabeth--giving each of them a little more to do, maybe.

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
sadface
Jul. 8th, 2006 08:40 am (UTC)
Had I known the whole movie was just set-up for the third installment, I would have waited to watch it.

I shouted 'what the fuck' in the cinema as soon as it finished. I didm't know that was going to happen, why did no-one tell me? *cries*

Norrington was my hero, now he's ruined, I don't even know why because I couldn't follow the convoluted 'plot'. There seemed to be peril where there really wasn't any nesescity for it for god knows what reason (bumping up the time to annoy me).

I didn't go in with low expectations as such. I had read it had been panned, and that it was really bad and I was willing to accept that my main thing was 'its got Jack Sparrow how bad can it be?'. I just, I don't know why he was the way he was, he wasn't *that* slapsticky in the first one, i just don't...

That said, your honour motif pleases me although I found most instances of it in the film either heavy handed or convoluted to the point of ridiculous, I don't think we had enough character development time for me to properly associate a given path to a character. I am mostly mad about Norrigton because I loved him in the first movie and I don't really understand why controlling Davy Jones means controlling the sea (he doesn't really seem like the agreeable type to me, much more likely to send his men to sneak onto Port Royale and steal the heart back).

Sorry, i'm ranting again. I was trying to be intelligent for a minute there. :D
norwich36
Jul. 8th, 2006 05:29 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm pretty surprised that I didn't get spoiled as to the fact that this was just basically filler before the next movie. I was furious at the end, actually.

I didn't mind Norrington being brought low, I just minded him giving the heart to Lord Jerkoff. And I'm really hoping that this is setting up something in the third movie where he redeems himself, because otherwise I'll be even more furious.
(Deleted comment)
norwich36
Jul. 13th, 2006 10:41 pm (UTC)
Since I originally posted this I've read a whole bunch of other people's reviews that illuminated a lot of Norrington's choices for me. I agree that Norrington doesn't know what Beckett's motives are--i just *wanted* him to. And I didn't think he owed the heart to Jack, or Will, or Elizabeth; I agree with you that he doesn't owe them anything. I thought the honorable thing to do with the heart is to destroy it, because it is not only a tool to control the ocean, it's a tool to enslave a lot of sailors.

I know, it's anachronistic to expect Norrington to not want the British Empire to be in control of the seas, (and perhaps expecting him to have knowledge he doesn't have to know that as long as the heart exists, more (relatively) innocent seamen are going to be enslaved,and lots more completely innocent seamen are going to die at the hands of the Krakken) but lots of the rest of the film is anachronistic, too, so I don't feel bad for wanting that.

Really, my disappointment is more metatextual: I want Norrington and not Will Turner to be the real hero of the movie, dammit! Which I realize isn't going to happen, since he is a minor character, so he isn't going to be *given* the knowledge he needs to make the heroic choices. I guess the best we can hope is that they don't completely villainize him in the next movie.
sabershadowkat
Jul. 9th, 2006 02:54 am (UTC)
I was thinking along the same lines, though not as coherently. Everyone, except for Will, was self-serving in the film. I knew that they filmed 2 & 3 at the same time, so the sudden ending wasn't too jolting, as I knew 3 was already in the bag and thus making it one long story.

From that perspective, that 2 & 3 are one long plot, the storytelling would be "characters all brought to their lowest points before they're built back up to their most heroic." I agree that Norrington better have his own redemption, too, or else it would be a waste of character.
norwich36
Jul. 9th, 2006 03:22 am (UTC)
See, somehow I was completely unspoiled that the next movie is coming out next summer--I was expecting a much longer wait in between. If I had known, I might have anticipated some of what happened in this one, and I wouldn't have been so annoyed at the ending.

It's funny that I really don't mind everyone else being self-serving *except* Norrington--he's the only one that really bothered me. Maybe I've read one too many Sparrington fics where he was too noble for his own good, or something.
sabershadowkat
Jul. 9th, 2006 04:18 am (UTC)
I'm okay with Norrington, because in the film he said he had to give up everything that made him who he was (his commission, his life, his girl) and then he chased Jack and couldn't catch him, going through a hurricane that undoubtably took most of his shipmates, and, well, if a person doesn't go a bit mad with all that, he's a saint. I'm very glad that they did say all of that, or I would've been feeling like it was coming out of left field, or, as you're implying, like he was OOC.

The fic gets to us all, and now it's been jossed well and good, thus new canon to build on! And oh, was there lots of juicy Jack/James that could be built into and off of this.

(Deleted comment)
norwich36
Jul. 8th, 2006 05:30 pm (UTC)
Parts of it were entertaining, but it definitely wasn't what I was expecting.
bop_radar
Jul. 13th, 2006 03:46 am (UTC)
That last sword-fighting scene was really probably my favorite swordfight in any movie, ever; I absolutely loved how they went BEYOND over the top, and took it all the way into outer space, or whatever the metaphor above "over the top" would be.
Oh TOTALLY! I love it when films push things just soooo far that it's completely hysterical. I always think of it as the filmmaker forcing the audience through a speeded up version of the Brechtian stages--you know, apathy, boredom, anger... into HUMOUR!

they're actually setting Norrington up to have more to do in the next film
I hope so! They could make a very interesting story with him, which is why I squeed--and like you, I hope the third movie reveals a greater purpose for him; otherwise it's just sloppy characterisation. I think it was fabu who pointed out how we don't know the motivations of so many of the protagonists at this stage. I hesitantly agree--I have Fear that there's some just sloppy characterisation going on, but I will hope for the best!

in choosing faithfulness to Will above Jack, she has inadvertantly convinced Will she is in love with Jack. Since I actually think their triangle is an interesting one (unlike 99% of love triangles in history), I think they might do something worthwhile with this in POTC 3
*nods* I think the triangle is conceptually interesting--I was certainly very glad about the paradox--but it's lacking in spark or sexual chemistry for me, because Keira's such a dead fish. (hmmm! possibly not the best metaphor ever! what was I trying for there?! fish on the brain with this movie!)

I wonder what that will mean for the sequel. I *hope* it means it will have a little more substance and character development, and a little less of the boring action sequences.
*nods* Yes, like you and asta77, I found the action sequences really fun, but I still want more substance. I'll keep my fingers crossed!

though don't even get me started on the depiction of race in this movie. Good grief
Heh! ;-) Does that mean I can't start on about the depiction of women?!
Or should I say 'women', given Keira's androgyny!? *bitchy*

I enjoyed Will a lot more in this movie than most of the other characters
Interesting! For me, he was the one with least development in this movie. His interactions with his dad--hmm, well they fell a bit flat for me, as I couldn't see where they were going in terms of character development. But I can see now I was probably just one-eyed for Jack, Jack, Jack and Norrington. I do agree Norrington and Elizabeth could have been given more time (even though I hate Elizabeth), but I also think they didn't succeed (if they intended to) in making Will's story quite as central as they did in the first movie. I was very interested to read that review that read the movies from Elizabeth's perspective--a completely different take to me, but well-argued. But it's really raised in my mind the question of 'who IS the central character/hero?' And I'm irked that we'll have to wait for the third movie to truly find out... or perhaps it will still be unclear--if so, I hope they manage the balancing act of three, or four, different character journeys. Not easy! I'm scared someone's going to be character assassinated in the process.
norwich36
Jul. 13th, 2006 10:05 pm (UTC)
Here's another interesting essay on Elizabeth: http://the-dala.livejournal.com/383583.html?style=mine
bop_radar
Jul. 14th, 2006 02:33 am (UTC)
Yes, interesting! Though I find myself going 'yeah... but I just don't care'. Do you find Elizabeth a satisfying/interesting character? I wish I did. *mopes*
norwich36
Jul. 14th, 2006 02:40 am (UTC)
I don't hate Elizabeth. I don't particularly love her, but I don't hate her. I would say I watch the films primarily for Jack and Norrington as characters; then Elizabeth and Will are tied for me (mostly for eye candy reasons). I do like the fact that Elizabeth is more of a pirate at heart than Will.
bop_radar
Jul. 14th, 2006 02:44 am (UTC)
Maybe I don't hate Elizabeth... I just wish she was played by a different actress. I find it really hard to overcome my body image issues with Keira. I like that the character is a pirate at heart! Yes, that is good. And in theory for that reason she's a more interesting character than Will...

Yes, this has helped clarify it for me. It's definitely Keira I dislike--not the character so much.
norwich36
Jul. 13th, 2006 05:09 am (UTC)
I think the triangle is conceptually interesting--I was certainly very glad about the paradox--but it's lacking in spark or sexual chemistry for me, because Keira's such a dead fish. (hmmm! possibly not the best metaphor ever! what was I trying for there?! fish on the brain with this movie!)

You're not having much luck with female characters in movies this summer, are you?

I know a lot of people hate Keira (in general, or at least in the POTC movies) but I don't. I wouldn't say she's my favorite character or anything, but I'm fine with her, and don't find her particularly wooden. She didn't have much to do in this one, but I liked her bonking Norrington over the head and I loved her swordfight scene.

His interactions with his dad--hmm, well they fell a bit flat for me, as I couldn't see where they were going in terms of character development.

Really? Because for me the big theme in the movie is how much pirate there is in all the characters. Will spent a lot of the last movie worrying there was a lot of his dad in him, and I think he found out that is true, but in a good way. I agree that Orli is a little flat in his portrayal of Will (like he is in all his movies--but his prettiness usually carries things for me), but I actually thought Will was the most heroic character in the movie.

I think, unfortunately, that the writers see Will and Elizabeth as the main characters of the trilogy, so they're the ones who are going to be the main heroes in the next film. I am slightly worried about what they might do to Norrington, since he isn't really a major character.
bop_radar
Jul. 14th, 2006 02:51 am (UTC)
You're not having much luck with female characters in movies this summer, are you?
No! Woe. I miss Roslin and Starbuck. ((:((

Will was the most heroic character in the movie
Yes--I agree. Actually, that's why I find his story a little simplistic because it seems SO clear to me that he's not his father, that his angsting around about that doesn't have much suspense for me. Or maybe I just got sick of the Davey Jones mob! Your post above helped me see that Will's story IS quite interesting.

Yes, I am worried about Norrington. He and Jack are my favourites. I need them to come out ok! *frets*
norwich36
Jul. 14th, 2006 02:58 am (UTC)
As I said to someone else below, I didn't really like the whole Davy Jones crew thing, either--way too much of a grossout factor for me!

And I agree that the female characters in most of the movies I've seen this summer definitely don't measure up to the women of BSG. (Actually, the women in most TV shows don't measure up, either. BSG is just a great show for women's roles, no question about it.)

I agree with you about Keira Knightley and her anorexia of doom, btw. But at least the men's clothes disguised that a little bit.
bop_radar
Jul. 14th, 2006 03:15 am (UTC)
don't read this if you don't want to hear me rant. I won't mind! ;-)
*nods*
Yes, BSG sets a new bar as far as women's roles go, no doubt about it, and it's one of the main reasons I fangirl the show. I'd say I was being unfair to compare other female roles to those, except that that's where I think the benchmark should be. I'm just frustrated against the regressive gender politics of mainstream cinema at the moment. It's actually got worse--in the 80s and 90s there were albeit clumsy but genuine attempts to write strong female leads. Now the fight seems to have been dropped and we're seeing all these girly roles glamourised again. Even that would be ok if the girly girls were fully rounded characters, but they don't seem to be--they are too frequently played by wispy anorexic actresses with personality lobotomies who look pretty for the camera in great costumes and make-up but can't carry a weighty line or convey character complexity very well at all.

I was so relieved when they got Keira into the boy's clothes. Her jutting jawline and her non-existent waist and hips really scare me. But her fake cleavage freaks me even more. The anorexia is frightening, but my concerns go further than that. I find it disturbing in period movies when a character who is meant to be attractive for that period is played by someone who fits the idealised body image of today. It sends a message that tall angular women were always beautiful. That's not true and it's damaging for those who don't fit that model. At a more subconscious level it also sends a message that if you want to be the equal of a man you need to look like a man, or at least a boy. Keira's character doesn't have to worry about fighting opponents taller than her who have longer reach, or about her breasts getting in the way of her sword fighting (as a martial artist, I understand why the Amazons cut them off!) and she probably doesn't have to worry about her period since she's too darn skinny to have one. I'd just rather have seen a more womanly actress in the role. Or else, just hire a boy and be done with it! (of course they wouldn't do that... but I end up concluding that they wish they could have)

Rant over. I feel loads better! *g* If you actually read this: *hugs*
norwich36
Jul. 14th, 2006 04:59 am (UTC)
Re: don't read this if you don't want to hear me rant. I won't mind! ;-)
I don't disagree with you! I definitely would like to see women get stronger roles, especially in the big movie blockbusters, and I completely agree with you about women's bodies in films.
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