PG-13 for the same reasons that the rest of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies are PG-13: mostly for supernatural horror. Because this is a direct continuation of the second film, Dead Man's Chest. Really, everything that happens in the first movie happens in the second movie. I suppose you see a hallucination of Captain Jack with his brain falling out of his head as well. There's the innuendo and drunkenness that was also in the other movies as well. It's not surprising that this is a PG-13 movie.
DIRECTOR: Gore Verbinski
Geez, what a painfully long movie. We did this movie over two nights. There was one point where we had to pause the film. My wife honestly thought that there had to only be fifteen minutes left in the movie and we realized we hadn't even crossed the halfway point of the movie. I thought she was going to confiscate the TV at the point. I remember being profoundly disappointed by this movie the first time I saw it. I know that people swear by this entry in the franchise, but I could not be more bored when I saw it. I thought I might have been wrong in my first opinion of the film. I watched it again and was even more bored. So I'm pleasantly surprised that...I didn't hate it this time?
I know that's not the most resounding praise of a movie, but I really hated this movie the first time I saw it. Like with Dead Man's Chest, this movie really has a problem with trying to do too much with the screentime. The Pirates movies, in general, keep forgetting that the most interesting elements of the story are the characters. Because At World's End, is technically the end of a trilogy and it is aware that it is the end of a trilogy, it has the character moments that we turn in for. It's just that those moments tend to get buried under some really burdensome fantasy technobabble. As with The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock, At World's End is locked into bringing back Captain Jack Sparrow.
There's something a little self-indulgent about the return of Captain Jack Sparrow. I mean, we're all watching these movies for Captain Jack. I know that there are rumblings of making more of these movies without Johnny Depp now that he's slightly persona non grata. But for all of the Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann shipping in the world, the interesting character in the movie is Captain Jack. But even with The Search for Spock, Spock himself doesn't dominate the film. In that film, we see a young Spock going through pon farr, acting very un-Spock like. But with At World's End, a good portion of the movie is devoted to giving as much screen time as Johnny Depp can handle. The movie not only understands that we love Captain Jack, but it basically screams to us that we're not allowed to fall out of love with Captain Jack. While I won't swear that The Search for Spock is a great film, it at least understands that putting the return of Spock as the crux of the story is a smart idea.
But instead, we have a portion of the film that is completely devoted to getting Jack back and then we have to start a whole separate story. I know that the story really tries making Jack's return vital to the survival of everyone, but I only understood that upon that watching. It's not like the pirates tried to fight Davy Jones without Jack and have failed. Instead, their first response is to get Jack back. Really, if the story embraced that it is meant to be about Jack's return, there might be something really worth watching. But by splitting the movie into disparate plots, we never really get the investment that these moments really deserve. We actually never even get a moment away from Jack. When Jack is revealed, it's a bit into the movie. But in terms of fasting from Captain Jack, we are never really deprived of his presence. The movie needs to let us appreciate Jack. Instead, we actually get more than Captain Jack Sparrow than ever. He's everyone in this movie. And if it wasn't enough that Captain Jack Sparrow is a character who plays the part with an esoteric attitude that doubling down on that isn't exactly something new. We don't get much of a growth in the character.
But the movie does a couple of things really right. While I want to applaud the tragic end of Will Turner, I am more in the mindset that At World's End makes Will Turner kind of fun again. I don't really understand the friendship of Will and Jack. Will keeps running to the rescue of Jack Sparrow, but seems to really hate him as well. It's not a fairweather friendship. No, it honestly seems like Will Turner really hates Jack because they always end up on opposite sides of central conflicts in these movies. But it is once Will is reminded that his primary goal is to marry Elizabeth Swann, he becomes this fun character again. I always remembered my favorite moments from these movies as the rad fight scenes with the jokes. Well, that's still pretty true, but I really enjoy the marriage scene, for all of its absurdity. Maybe that's what I realize about the Pirates of the Caribbean films. They really shine when they embrace the absurdity of the entire situation, which would be something like the marriage battle. It's so goofy and fun that it reminded me why I signed on for these movies. I don't know why I can't get behind the Jack and Davy Jones fight on top of the mast in the same way. Maybe because it doesn't feel very dangerous, due to CGI. But the marriage fight is just fun.
Similarly, I do approve of the growth of Elizabeth Swann. I mean, it's a bit silly and you have to squint to see how Elizabeth Swann got into the position of being the Pirate Lord or whatever, but I do approve the fact that At World's End completely abandons the notion that Elizabeth Swann needs saving. Will Turner was always the epic hero in the series and At World's End gives Swann something to really do. While she isn't the swashbuckler that the other characters are, I do love seeing other characters put in their places when she shows up. Her character arc in this movie is actually pretty rad. Yeah, it's a bit of a lightswitch, which is absurd considering how much she's in the franchise. But the moment that was teased with Swann and Sparrow on the island in Dead Man's Chest is really paid off in this movie. We know that she is a capable character, but she's finally allowed to strut her stuff.
While I can safely say that I never really want to watch this movie again, it wasn't the terrible movie I remember. Yeah, I would definitely purge a bunch of storylines. Yeah, I get that we get emotional about Bootstrap Bill and his son. I get the idea that the movie is about sacrifice. But it is a silly movie series. When it takes itself too seriously, it actually becomes a bit of a burden. But when it focuses on character and fun, the movie proves that it is a good time.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.