There are a few of laughs peculiar to the cinema. There’s the stifled, back-of-the-throat rumble. There’s the quick “ha!” and the long giggle. There’s even genuine rolling-in-the-aisles, uncontrolled mess of laughter that filmmakers actually have to anticipate and incorporate pauses into the movies for. This is one the true joys of coming to a cinema, the ability to have your silly laugh literally drowned out by everyone else’s silly laugh.
Then there are the fake ones. You can spot these very easily because they always come a half second after the genuine laughs – or worse, a half second before – and are always too long and theatrical. It’s painfully obvious that this person is trying to show to everyone else that they get it,‘it’ being some kind of joke; usually an unfunny one that wasn’t worth laughing about in the first place.
You can tell a lot by cinema crowds by the way they laugh at the ads before the movie starts. If people laugh at really funny ads and you hear a few delayed theatrical ones, then chances are you’re in good, intelligent company. If, however, the banal car ad that’s already a year old generates long, loud haw-haws precisely one second after the sound has died down, then you’re in trouble. You’ve just walked into a movie with normal people.
The man/kid/thing in the seat next to me immediately took one look at the PIXAR logo on the screen and let out a laugh that went precisely, ‘Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-hahaha’ in a flat, monotonous fashion. Then the screen said, ‘Presents’ and there he went again, in exactly the same manner. This happened a few more times during the Ratatouille trailer, at either random intervals or a half second after everyone else had finished laughing.
I was thankful that as At World’s End started up, he was busy chomping down on that pungent smelling thing he had smuggled in, but was left with mixed feelings. While the sooner he ate the sooner the smell would go away, it would also mean a return to his laughing at everything.
Lucky for us the movie starts on a pretty somber note, with lots of people being hanged. Unfortunately this bit where a kid is too short for the gallows came up between my neighbour’s mouthfuls and he let rip another factory-specification laugh. It’s as if he was trained or something.
Things weren’t going well. At World’s End was more of the same stuff I hadn’t liked in Dead Man’s Chest There was a whole bunch of Keira Knightley trying to act. There was a bit of Orlando Bloom forgetting he can. The jokes were a bit on the stupid and obvious side. Everything was gloomy and green, but at least Geoffrey Rush and Chow Yun Fat were around, and provided much of the spark of the first thirty minutes.
I heaved a great sigh of relief the second Johnny Depp’s nose came on screen. What followed over the next few minutes is perhaps the most surreal sequence ever to appear in a pirate movie, and it’s absolutely beautiful. So strange and so unfathomable, the normal people in the audience – my neighbour included – were for a good while silent as Captain Jack Sparrow was reintroduced to us. I was one of those people who wondered what on earth had happened to the character in the last movie, and so I was the happiest little pirate indeed to realise that back was the witty, smart and intelligent Jack Sparrow of Curse of the Black Pearl.
Over the next two-and-a-half hours I was nothing short of entertained. I went with every plot twist and double cross and over-done special effect, because there were good characters doing good movie stuff to watch. It didn’t matter and even became something of an entertainment whenever my neighbour – utterly lost by this point – would cling to anything that seemed vaguely like it was going to lead to comedy and start one of his patented ha-has.
I could tell that this film has definitely been retooled since Dead Man’s Chest came out. A couple of the major plot points only show up in this one, and surely if they were meant to be there all along some degree of foreshadowing would have happened in the second film (I speak of course, of what happens with Tia Dalma). This retooling is a necessary and welcome step, and in my opinion they’ve ‘saved’ this trilogy. Someone finally realised that we all watch this movie not for a bunch of bland, do-gooder young folk with noble and tragic stories, but for the pirates — The Pirates!
And so we have much more of Jack Sparrow and Mr. Gibbs, and much more of Barbosa. While in the first film he was a memorable but pretty straightforward villain, in At World’s End he’s revealed to be just as flamboyant, just as charismatic – and most importantly, just as crazy – as Sparrow. Even the Keith Richards cameo starts out a bit cloying but ultimately hits you with a hammer of a punchline. I’m very glad that Johnny Depp has said yes to Pirates 4 and beyond, and sincerely hope that Geoffrey Rush is also a part of those movies, because I would be sorely disappointed otherwise.
The film certainly shares more of a vibe with the second than the first, in that it is also a helter-skelter, million-plots-at-a-time story full of twists and turns. Thanfully this time those plots are put together better and are constantly moving the story forward. Also, there aren’t any long and silly action set-pieces (while the extended cartwheel swordfight from the second was entertaining on its own, it didn’t quite fit with the rest of the film). The action, in fact, is frequently thrilling and well laid out, the climax especially.
Hooray then, for Pirates of the Caribbean. While At World’s End is not as astoundingly excellent as Curse of the Black Pearl, it is quite a good movie and great way to wrap up what is hopefully the first of many trilogies to come.