Posts Tagged ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’

Spiderman 3

August 2, 2007

And so the cash-cow juggernaut that is the Hollywood sequel continues to drive its way across the world, obliterating almost all that comes before it. After the debacle that was Pirates of the Caribbean 3, I knew that I should abandon this year’s slew of threequels as hopeless and quietly admit that these big budget movies are no longer for me, but the Hollywood gene that was implanted as a child remained intact and like a moth to the flame I was irresistibly drawn towards this third, darker, Spiderman movie.

I knew it was going to suck, I knew I was going to hate it but still I couldn’t give up the ghost of the idea that maybe this time I would be wrong. Maybe this time I would find something satisfying and admirable in the cold, dead eyes of a billion dollar franchise. Maybe this time would be like when I was younger and I’d find giddy enjoyment in the spectacle and find it emotionally engaging as well.

I was a fool to even think it.

Remember that episode of the Simpsons where Poochy is introduced into Itchy and Scratchy but is destroyed by the studios attempts to satisfy every demographic? Welcome to Spiderman 3. The class and style of the first two films appears to have been thrown out the window in favour of a predetermined marketing angle, the established character arcs are dismissed with an almost gleeful preference for point A to B storytelling and the set-pieces are uninspired and formulaic. It’s almost as if the producers had a bullet point list of scenes / toy spin-offs they wanted to include and the story was shoe-horned in around them.

Even taking into account that it’s a comic-book movie and not subject to the general laws of logical storytelling, it was still a staggeringly lazy piece of work. Whole sections of the first movie were rewritten to justify character behaviour, soap opera levels of plotting were used to initiate storylines, villains given absolutely no reason to exist whatsoever and plot lines that had been carefully built up over the two previous movies were discarded in one or two lines of dialogue. What was even worse was that potentially interesting and exciting avenues of the plot were jettisoned in favour of turgid song and dance sequences and horrifically embarrassing ‘comedy’ moments.

This was meant to be the ‘dark’ episode of the trilogy, but instead it was a laughable exercise in bad filmmaking. How do we know Peter Parker has lost his soul to the black suit…? Why, he grows a Kraftwerk haircut. How can we justify his descent into bad behaviour…? Simple, rewrite his motivations from the first film. How can we get the new Green Goblin on Peter’s side..? Easy, give him selective amnesia. The disregard and lack of respect for the audience is evident in every frame as they go about hitting each target for their demograph and the consequences for the story be damned.

The villains were a pathetic lot and had none of the interest or pathos of either the Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus. Venom was a lousy CGI creation that was neither scary nor cool, and the Sandman was lumped with a backstory that was irrelevant and insulting. Kirsten Dunst became an irritating, demanding, self-interested cow barely capable of getting a teenage boy interested, Tobie Maguire had a humiliating dance sequence to explain his descent into badness and even the utterly reliable Bruce Campbell was saddled with a sub-Arthur Bostrom bad French accent that was nigh-on-impossible to watch without having fingers to hide behind.

The CGI was uninspired and shoddy, the fight sequences were boring and hard to watch and the so-called humour made me realise why these people were paid so much money in the first place – to buy their dignity and splash it on the screen. The ending was an insult to everything that had preceded it, the logic frequently dismissed in favour of expositional dialogue and the script was clearly (hopefully) a first draft they couldn’t be bothered to finish. For a series of films that started out very well, this was a terrible, terrible, terrible way to end them.

Of course, it made $800 million at the box office so who gives a fuck if it’s any good? Not the studio or filmmakers who must be swimming in their Scrooge McDuck pools of money and laughing at the gullibility of the global audience. The whole film was a fucking insult.

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Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End

May 30, 2007

 At World's End 

Warning: Spoilers! Sort of … 

To fully appreciate how fast and loose the writers of Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End play with comprehensibility and plot, look no further than the differing explanations as to why Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Barbossa was easier to rescue from death than is Johnny Depp’s Cap’n Jack Sparrow. “Barbossa,” says the loony Cajun lady from Dead Man’s Chest, “was merely dead.” Jack, it transpires, has gone to a far far worse place – Davy Jones’s Locker, a realm that looks a lot like Utah and which is populated by dozens of replica Cap’n Jacks, one of whom is a chicken.

Oh well that’s alright then.

At World’s End has a plot (I think) … it’s just buried beneath a thousand tons of … well … fuck knows. We never find out why Barbossa was easier to rescue past the fact he was ‘just dead’, and we never really find out why Jack was, in fact, a damned-sight easier to rescue than we’d been led to believe. Suffice it to say Jack is rescued and then lots of other stuff happens. And I mean LOTS of stuff … nearly three bloody hours worth.

The story, for what it’s worth, goes something like this: Jack needs rescuing because he’s one of nine pirate lords who each hold one of the fabled nine pieces of eight. Barbossa needs to rescue Jack so Jack can cast his vote at a meeting of the nine pirate lords. He also needs The Black Pearl to fight Davy Jones who is now in the employ of Lord Beckett because Lord Beckett has Davy Jones’s heart. Elizabeth Swann and the stupefyingly dull Will Turner aren’t on the best of terms because Elizabeth betrayed Jack and Will has betrayed everyone else. Will, y’see, needs the Pearl to rescue his dad Bootstrap from Davy Jones who, in turn, has some unfinished business with the bonkers Cajun lady from Dead Man’s Chest.

There are a lot of betrayals. Jack betrays all of the pirates at the big pirate conference. Will betrays Jack and Elizabeth. Elizabeth betrays somebody … possibly Chow-Yun Fat’s Sao Feng (he betrays everyone as well). The crazy Cajun lady betrays everyone because she is an angry Goddess. Davy Jones betrays Lord Beckett. Barbossa betrays everyone … yadda yadda yadda. There are many many double-crosses, most of which make very little sense. For most of the running time you won’t fully comprehend why a particular character has turned round and betrayed everyone – nor will you understand why they are later back fighting for the side they betrayed without the side they betrayed being in the least bit miffed. I felt betrayed by this.

To add to the confusion, most of the cast die at least once. This doesn’t matter much because death isn’t a particular barrier to carrying on living your life. By the movie’s conclusion you do wonder who’s still alive, who’s now immortal, who is actually properly dead and, of course, what the fuck is going on.

To give it its dues, At World’s End looks beautiful. The sets, costumes, CGI work and props are faultless, magnificent, gorgeous achievements. The pirate ships, especially in the climactic battle scene, are glorious. The whole design of the movie at times takes your breath away … which it should do when you consider it cost $250 million dollars to make. If somebody doesn’t win an award for the effort made over making a film look this good, there’s no justice in this world.

It’s just a shame they didn’t spend some of that money sorting out the plot, the overwhelming mass of separate story-lines, or the horrendous sound mix. Half the time you can’t hear yourself think. As pirates bellow at one another in a series of unintelligible accents, Hans Zimmer’s overblown score thunders out, physically assaulting your ears and making understanding what anyone is saying an impossiblity. Perhaps this is why I couldn’t understand what was happening half the time – I couldn’t bloody hear it over the score.

In conclusion Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End is a monstrous, garbled, beautiful, bonkers, boring, noisy, hallucinogenic mess. It is worth watching because I can’t recall ever seeing a film looking this fantastic ever, and some of its set-pieces make your jaw drop to the floor. Just don’t expect to understand what’s going on or even, ultimately, to care.

Exorcist – The Beginning

March 16, 2007

Exorcist The Beginning 

Now then …

The man from Pirates of the Caribbean is asked by the man from Chariots of Fire to go to post-war Africa to retrieve an artefact from a church that’s just been unearthed by the bloke from The Madness of King George. The man from Pirates of the Caribbean flies off to Africa and hooks up with the man with the horrible teeth from Snatch, some woman I can’t remember the name of and a priest who may, or may not, have been in some teen films I haven’t seen. The man from Pirates of the Caribbean used to be a priest in the war but gave it all up (or lost his faith) after having to choose who was to be shot in the face by a Nazi who had just shot a five year old. The woman (who’s very attractive but does not, I repeat not, get her tits out at any stage in the movie) has a tattoo she got in a concentration camp, the man from Snatch has a face covered in ugly yellow sores and the priest from teen films (probably) has a side-parting and excellent teeth.

Something evil is afoot! The man from Pirates of the Caribbean, the teen vicar and a black man who is supposed to be African (but is clearly from Stroud) descend through the roof of the buried church and discover Jesus on the cross upside down – this signifies Satan’s on the loose again. The man from Pirates of the Caribbean goes to talk to the attractive woman who doesn’t get her tits out about something whilst the priest goes off to do something else. Next, the man from Pirates of the Caribbean goes off to Nairobi to witness a bald French man (who has carved a swastika on his chest) stab himself in the neck and bleed to death.

Meanwhile, back at the camp, two boys argue over a trowel.

One of the boys is eaten by dogs. The other boy is placed in hospital where he is cared for by the attractive woman who may or may not have great boobs if only she’d pull ’em out (which she doesn’t). Whilst all this is going on (or possibly after it’s happened) a tribeswoman outside gives birth to a baby covered in maggots. This is a bad thing.

The man from Snatch (who’s face looks bloody awful by now) is killed whilst trying to grab a bottle of booze. The man from Pirates of the Caribbean spends all night digging up coffins and having flashbacks whilst tribesmen try to free the child with the trowel of evil spirits. The boy (or the Devil perhaps) breaks their legs. The next day the man from The Madness of King George finds the man from Snatch strung up in the church. This angers him for some reason, so he shoots the chief of the tribes-people. Later he shoots himself after a butterfly comes out of his mouth.

A sandstorm descends and everyone kills everyone else. Meanwhile, the two priests discover that Satan is possessing not the boy (as you’d been led to believe for the last two hours), but the attractive yet sadly fettered woman who used to be in a concentration camp. The priest with the side-parting goes off to the church and is killed by the attractive woman. The man from Pirates of the Caribbean then turns up at the church and, through a series of holy adventures, casts the Devil from the woman’s body.

She dies anyway.

Finally, the man from Pirates of the Caribbean has a second meeting with the man from Chariots of Fire where he gives him a burnt piece of something. He then goes to the Vatican. This is the end of the movie.

You get all that?

I fucking didn’t.