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Old May 16th, 2007, 06:03 AM
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POTC: AWE Critics' Reviews SPOILERS ALERT!

AS FOR ANY REVIEW, SPOILERS are to be expected.

First review from the NATIONAL POST by Bob Thompson.

Quote:
Yarr, 'tis true: Pirates 3 is a sight to behold

Yo ho! ho! and a plot full of fun. Avast me mateys, it’s true. I just caught the first media preview of Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End.

Fittingly, the Pirates event was at the re-modeled jewel box of an old Hollywood theatre, El Capitan, on Monday night. It's sort of like old school meets new for a movie theatre. Like these Pirates pictures. And like the others, the new Gore Verbinski film has it all: Action, adventure, mind-boggling effects and loads of laughs in a two hour and 40 minute journey.

And there’s Johnny Depp, of course, who continues to do the swagger and stagger as if he invented it.

Well, he did kind of as a slurring salute to the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards, who shows up in this Pirates 3 celebration as Jack’s father figure in what has to be the most discussed cameo in pirate film history. Talk about satisfaction. Although, the cameo is brief, it is a highlight; more of a quick wink than a committed nod.

Anyway, the real thrust, as always, is that the charming rogue Captain Jack Sparrow. Last seen in Dead Man’s Chest being devoured by the mighty sea monster the Kraken, it seemed to be the end. As it turns out in this episodic fantasy, based on a Disney ride of all things, Captain Jack is not so much being digested as he is serving time in Davy Jones’ figurative locker.

As we might recall from last summer’s second Pirates picture, the witch Tia (Naomie Harris resurrects Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), the mutineer killed by Jack in the first film. This time around, he’s less the bad guy and more the scout as he leads Will (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) and the rest of the crew to Captain Jack’s locker lock down.

Not as easy as it seems getting there, of course. Besides the obstacles, they must steal the navigational chart from Singapore master pirate Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat) who would rather kill than chill.

Later on, a diabolical alliance is about to change all that, however, as Captain Jack, Barbossa and Sao Feng find themselves joining forces — sort of — so they won’t be eliminated by the mega-capitalist Lord Cutler (Tom Hollander). He seems to control the Royal Navy on behalf of the East India Trading Company.

Not to mention Davy Jones as alluded to in the previous Pirates. And yes the battle finale is something to behold, almost operatic in its scope as Captain Jack and Davy Jones have at it in some wildly active sequences. Scene setters before the climax are inventive, as well. I won’t soon forget the waterfalls moments.

Just like the previous Pirates, the effects are neither self-consciously presented or brazenly flaunted by Verbinski who even gets a little artsy now and again.

More basic? The bizarre love triangle as soap opera continues, too. Captain Jack, none too pleased that Elizabeth left him as the Kraken’s main course, is still flirty with her. And while Will gets to wear real fighting pirate boots, he seems befuddled that his bride-to-be may have eyes for the scoundrel.

Let us not forget Admiral James Norrington (Jack Davenport), ever the opportunist, and former Elizabeth flame (she, ah, gets around) is back. And he’s in the good graces of Lord Beckett and the East India Trading Company. Although he did not steal Elizabeth’s figurative heart, he did steal the literal heart of Davy Jones and used it to bargain back his career. That cad.

I guess all’s fair in love and pirate movies. Especially this one.

Whether Pirates 3 will top the billion-dollar box-office of the second instalment is another story. It sure will be close. Now that discussions for a fourth Pirates picture have slowed, fans will have to get their fill of this one while re-living the others on DVD.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be a Pirates 4. There will be. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who had the foresight to shoot 2 and 3 almost simultaneously, is currently wrangling the talent for a projected place when all the stars can align at the same time.

Until then, be patient me buckos. And fill your boots with this one, a worthy entry.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 06:09 AM
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One from E! Online

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Gut Reaction: I See Pirates on the Horizon

Last night I took in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End with the whole E! entourage (Catt, J Ked, KWan, C Ro, Pharrell aka the Number One Stunna and Shaun "Stan" Smith) at the famous Disney El Capitan Theater in Hollywood.

Not only did they give out sweet Pirates popcorn buckets and have a kickass organist playing as we walked in, but superproducer Jerry Bruckheimer introduced the film! Real recognize real; dude also stayed for the whole thing. That's dope.

As someone who could not stand the first two films, I found this one to be surprisingly entertaining. The sheer visual spectacle is worthy of praise. The attention to detail in costume and set design is nothing short of spectacular.
Also, Keira Knightley is truly stunning. Please, please, if you are reading this and know her, or are her, please marry me? For real...

Many folks felt the second film was just a long trailer for the third, and in many ways, they were right. Lots of questions and plot points raised in the first two are answered and fleshed out in this latest Pirates.

Faithful Lyons Den readers have no fear, I'm not a Pirates groupie just yet. I found it about 45 minutes too long and was extremely disappointed in the development of the great actor Chow Yun-Fat's character.

The Keith Richards cameo ranks third on the summer cameo list, behind Ry Guy Seacrest in Knocked Up, which is really hilarious, and the Sal Man in Surf's Up.

Obviously, it will make a gabillion dollars, and this won't be the last we see of Jack Sparrow, but I could use a few summers off.
They could give us a little more information about the movie.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 08:33 AM
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cheer's Amby! thanks Interconnector- a good ones to start with then!
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Old May 16th, 2007, 08:35 AM
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Another from here

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Pirates 3: First Look

Clocking in during its Hollywood premiere Monday night at 2 hours and 45 minutes Pirates of the Caribbean At World's End concludes with one of those we-can't-bear-to-bring this-trilogy-to-a-close multiple endings familiar to viewers of the Lord of the Rings finale.

The film's more-is-better aesthetic may teeter toward the over-stuffed at times, but ultimately Pirates' last hurrah wraps up all the loose ends with satisfying oomph.

As lovers Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner, kick-*** Keira Knightley dressed in a modified kimono gets tender with Orlando Bloom, who shows a little more edge than previous pictures. Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow enters tripping over his own clones and it only gets weirder from there.

In a cameo, Keith Richards effectively plays, uh, Keith Richards. Geoffrey Rush and Bill Nighy expertly chew the scenery as blustering pirate chiefs, with Hong Kong action hero Chow Yun-Fat as a scarred and scary buccaneer from Singapore cramming themselves into a boat load jammed with sub plots and double crosses.

But it's director Gore Verbinski's visual flair that distinguish this Pirates. the massive waterfall in the middle of the ocean, the ship-swallowing vortex and the dozen Jack Sparrows trying to drag a immovable frigate across the sand all excel as memorable spectacle.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 08:52 AM
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So far, so good! Fantastic! Keep these up, guys! (And holy cow, 2 hours and 45 minutes. THAT is a long movie!)
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Old May 16th, 2007, 11:39 AM
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The Mirror

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CLUTCHING a mast swaying high over the crashing ocean, Captain Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones fight to the death in an awe-inspiring climax to one of the most popular trilogies in movie history.

Pirates Of The Caribbean 3: At World's End may not be released for another week but we've just had the very first look at what's certain to be the biggest film of 2007.

And fans won't be disappointed. It's a movie packed with thrills, spills and chills, every cent of its gigantic £150million budget put to stunning use.

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Blockbuster season has arrived - and pundits say Johnny Depp's new film will break the $1billion boxoffice record, set by the second Pirates movie, to become the most successful film of all time.

Following on from last year's Dead Man's Chest, these are dark times for the Age of Piracy. With loveable buccaneer Jack (Depp) missing presumed dead, the evil East India Company now controls the waves with the malevolent Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) roaming the world's oceans in his ghost ship, The Flying Dutchman.

As tyranny prevails on the high seas, it's up to young lovers Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann (Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley) to save piracy from a watery grave by gathering together the Nine Lords of the Brethren Court.

But one of the lords is missing. Jack is trapped in Davy Jones' Locker - his own personal hell, a desert without a drop of seawater - following his terrifying encounter with a monstrous kraken in the last movie.

It means Will and Elizabeth must embark on a dangerous mission to find the charts and a ship that will lead them to their salty seadog friend.

But neither has reckoned with Oriental pirate Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat, of Crouching Tiger fame) who's slipperier than a barrel of eels.

Everyone who enjoyed Dead Man's Chest will be hooked by this three-quel which, like the earlier film, is crammed to bursting with multiple plots, seafaring showdowns and spectacular special effects.

Apart from that climactic showdown in the rigging, there are incredible scenes of Jack trapped in the Locker.

After the trusty Black Pearl runs aground on a desert island, he's confronted with dozens of clones of himself before an army of crabs emerge from the sand, pick up his vessel and scuttle away with it.

And once again, Depp proves to be a natural-born swashbuckler, flaying his hands around and delivering his humorous lines in Jack's trademark slur. During one brawl between rival pirates, he quips, "Oh, this is politics."

Watch out, too, for a short but memorable appearance by Rolling Stone Keith Richards as his dad. After pulling a pistol on an enemy, he gets to strum an acoustic guitar, prompting his son to remark: "You've seen it all and done it all and survived, and that's what it's all about. Survival."

But while At World's End is sure to drum up a treasure trove of box-office booty for Disney, it's unlikely to win new converts. Once again director Gore Verbinski has overburdened proceedings with too many plotlines (15, including Barbossa's return from the dead), too many baddies and just too much action.

With so many special effects they start to lose the wow factor as the movie goes on. And, believe me, this is a film that goes on, clocking in at no less than 168 minutes. Pirates may make your jaw thud to the ground, but it'll also make your bum go blue.

But they're unlikely to prevent Pirates launching a fresh assault on our pockets. Shot back-to-back with the second part during a gruelling 284-day shoot, there's already talk of a fourth film. Pirates' legion of fans worldwide will no doubt be yo-ho-hoping Captain Jack will be sailing again.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 02:21 PM
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Great reviews. Thank you Interconnector and Amby!
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Old May 16th, 2007, 03:21 PM
Leggybelle Leggybelle is offline
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Thank you for the great articles (reviews), Amby and Interconnector. I can't wait to see it for myself !!!

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Keira Knightley dressed in a modified kimono gets tender with Orlando Bloom
Here's hoping for a really great love scene !!!
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Old May 16th, 2007, 07:05 PM
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i'm so glad they've got positive reviews! i'm trying not to read any potential spoilers so i skimmed thru everything but i like the fact that one says that fans won't be disappointed. yay!
we have to beat the spiderman 3 opening weekend takings. my competitive side is rearing it's ugly head
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Old May 16th, 2007, 08:46 PM
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the reviews from Aintitcool HERE
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Old May 16th, 2007, 09:12 PM
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Thanks for those Interconnector, Nel, and Amby. Much obliged.
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Old May 17th, 2007, 02:51 AM
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YES!! OMG YES!! TWO FREAKING HOURS AND FORTY FIVE FREAKING MINUTES OF PIRATES!!! YES!! OMG YES!!! YES!! YES!! Alright...Alright

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Originally Posted by evenstar View Post
we have to beat the spiderman 3 opening weekend takings. my competitive side is rearing it's ugly head
Of course! Everyone on this board must go AT LEAST 12 times!

I'm hyper lol

Last edited by Aniran; May 17th, 2007 at 03:13 AM.
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 06:13 AM
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ambayuun ambayuun is offline
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from CINEMA BLEND
Warning: The Will Turner comment is just stupid.

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3.5 out of 5 stars

We’re three movies in to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and I still have no idea who Will Turner is. He’s never developed a personality. Whether that’s because no one has bothered to write him one or because Orlando Bloom has all the acting range of a two-by-four is hard to say. It’s probably a combination of both. () We may not know who Will Turner is, but nobody seems to care. There are so many big personalities in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End it hardly matters that the skinny little pale fellow over in the corner never turned in to an actual character. Big personalities rule these seven seas, and the biggest of those personalities is of course Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. But At World’s End proves that while his place in piracy may be the biggest, it’s not necessarily the most important. Pirates 3 is better than Pirates 2 for one, very good reason: Forget Captain Jack, Captain Barbossa is back!

At World’s End picks up the story where we left it, with Jack Sparrow dead and Captain Barbossa undead. Barbossa, Will Turner, and Elizabeth Swan assemble a ragtag group of rescuers who set out to bring Jack back from the dead by sailing to the end of the world and back. Each is there for his own reasons, and none of them are particularly altruistic ones. It’s no spoiler to tell you that early on they find him. Unfortunately, some of the audience may bail out right there. Jack is in the piratical version of hell, which screenwriters Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio have written as something that might have been more comfortable in Depp’s drug tripping flick Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. After a lot of truly bizarre, supernatural insanity, Jack and the gang are back in the land of the living and ready to even the score against Davy Jones and the East India Trading Company.

One of my biggest problems with Pirates 2 was the way Jack was reduced to a guy does nothing but a lot of running and flailing. If the previous movie was primarily about Captain Jack Sparrow running then this third one is all about Jack having meetings. It’s the first thing Sparrow does when he’s resurrected, and once he gets going he just can’t seem to stop. He holds meetings with himself, meetings with his enemies, meetings with his women, meetings with his crew, and if there’s a fourth film, I fully expect him to install an Office Space style conference room in the bowels of the Black Pearl. Worse, none of it means anything. The audience knows it and the characters inside the film know it. The first three fourths of the film is firmly focused on major characters getting together in rooms to lie to one another. They reach accords which both sides realize neither side is going to keep, so they turn around and make conflicting accords with other characters who also realize that no one is going to do anything they say. After awhile the film turns into one big, knotted mess of crosses, double crosses, triple crosses, quadruple crosses and double quadruple crosses. You’ve got to wonder why anyone even bothers talking, when both sides know that whatever the other has to say is almost certainly a complete fabrication. What’s the point? Aren’t these supposed to be pirates? Shut up and stab somebody. Too much of the film is wasted on mindless negotiating that goes nowhere and serves only to turn the plot into one confused, nearly incomprehensible mess. At World’s End could easily have turned into one long, ocean-faring, conference nightmare except for one thing: His name is Geoffrey Rush.

Pirates 3 proves just how important Captain Barbossa is to this franchise. We’ve all spent so much time fawning over Depp, that Geoffrey Rush’s consistently brilliant performance as the growling Barbossa has been almost completely overlooked. But Captain Barbossa is, and always has been the only real pirate in these movies. Sparrow is a clown, a wannabe-rock-star turned pirate. Barbossa is a mean, bitter, robbing and killing, leader of men sonofa*****. I don’t mean to demean what Depp does, the character of Jack Sparrow is brilliant, but he works better when Barbossa is there to lend the movie gravitas while Depp prances around the deck like a puppet with his strings cut. Without Barbossa, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest felt lost, light-headed, and silly. With Rush back in for an entire movie, Pirates 3 is able to survive the script problems that weighed the previous movie down with great character chemistry.

Chemistry problems solved, the returning cast is able to hold the movie’s poorly written non-action scenes together through sheer force of will, making it easier to simply sit back and enjoy the cannon fire when it happens. There may not be as much of it in At World’s End as in the second movie, but what’s there is more satisfying. Swordfights and rope swings and broadsides are back front and center. Gone is the underwater beastie that terrorized the second film like the Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man stomping New York, and in its place is swashbuckling and gunfire. The wind howls and the ships rock, and while Pirates 3 intentionally passes up an opportunities for even bigger, ship on ship action, it’s fun as a purely action experience.

I’ve nearly made it through my entire At World’s End review without mentioning Keith Richards. If you’re wondering why, it’s because he doesn’t really matter. He’s only a cameo, but people seem to care about what he’s doing in the movie, so here’s your answer: He plays a crusty old uber-pirate and he’s damned good at it. No doubt he’d have been less good in larger doses, but in his small cameo part as the ultimate scallywag I’m pleasantly surprised to say that Keith Richards is flat out awesome. For once, stunt casting pays off.

There’s already talk of making a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and while I think this one is a fairly adequate entry into the series, it’s also pretty clear that the concept is running out of gas. The return of Barbossa injects some much needed life back into Pirates, but new characters like Chow Yun-Fat’s Shanghai pirate lord Sao Feng never pan out. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End finishes with a satisfactory ending for each of the film’s primary characters, and no matter how much money the movie makes, this seems like the perfect time to let this world sail off into the sunset. The franchise’s legions of fans will undoubtedly have a great time watching Captain Jack’s Bogus Journey, but let this be where it stops.
from The EPOCH TIMES.

Quote:
If there's one thing these Pirates don't need it's an introduction, last summer seeing them sail away with over one billion dollars of worldwide box office moolah. But Dead Man's Chest left some feeling sea-sick thanks to its adherence to the middle-movie formula of loose plot threads. The question is: does At World's End banish any ill feelings by neatly wrapping up the trilogy?

Moving straight into the story, At World's End picks up an indiscriminate time after the events of Dead Man's Chest . Already in Singapore en route to rescuing Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) from the mind-bending clutches of Davy Jones' locker, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) find themselves allied with their newly resurrected enemy Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). But after confronting the cunning Pirate Sao Feng ( Pirates newbie Chow Yun-Fat), their Singapore fling is over as quick as a flash and they head out onto the open seas towards the very ends of the earth itself. Meanwhile back in the Caribbean, Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) is now an instrument of the evil East India Trading Company and has forced Pirate kind to the brink of extinction. It's the perfect set-up for a titanic final battle, between two opposing forces, fighting for freedom or fortune...

...once, that is, all the elaborate plot machinations, featuring double crossings aplenty, are done with. And if there's one criticism of At World's End it's that it is far too convoluted for its own good. Also guilty of drifting the wrong side of serious, POTC3 still slightly lacks that sense of unadulterated fun that was so evident in the first film. But there's a reason these minor negatives have been mentioned first, for Pirates 3 is a roaringly good romp through the high seas of the Caribbean and beyond.

A bladder stretching, bum-numbing 168 minutes long, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End somehow never feels like a long movie. Clipping along at a rate of knots, the time sails past smoothly with barely a boring moment bloating out the running time—even including the now-obligatory multiple endings.

Easily the most technically accomplished of the three, it's in this part that the unsung hero of the Pirates phenomenon—director Gore Verbinski—comes to the fore. Holding the good ship together by maintaining continuity amidst what must have been chaos, there is an easy flow to the events that follow on from Pirates 1 and (particularly) 2 , with little to no repetition. Also leaving some indelible images to remember him by, Verbinski startles the eye on several occasions. A small selection of the mind-blowing shots include: our heroes' ship on a stark black sea reflecting the starry night sky above; the Black Pearl being carried across an arid land upon the backs of thousands of crabs, Captain Jack standing proudly atop its mast; a Western-like stand-off on a sliver of sand amidst the wide expanse of the sea; the Flying Dutchman and the Black Pearl encircling each other around a vast whirlpool, with deck hands from both vessels swinging across the chasm in order to board; and the wreckage-strewn, splinter-tastic stroll taken by Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) during the final battle.

As for the actors, there is little marked differences in their performances from last year's effort. Clearly comfortable in the skin of their characters, a tanned and kimono-clad Keira steams up the screen with her effortless beauty whilst the dutiful Bloom continues to quietly do his thing. As for Depp, thanks to the plot device of Davy Jones' locker, Captain Jack gets to return even more mental than usual. Anyway, his rock star pirate shtick is still dead funny and remains the main reason to watch. Finally, if there's one thing World's End proves it's the importance of having Geoffrey Rush's flamboyant Barbossa back: the opening Captain Jack-less 20 minutes would have been dour without him.

Featuring most of what you might wish for (and maybe more), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End unequivocally banishes to the depths of the ocean any ill feelings that may have been held over from the—uber-successfully anyway— Dead Man's Chest . So haul anchor and set sail for your nearest cinema for this trilogy ending triumph.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is released May 24th worldwide.

Four stars out of five

Last edited by ambayuun; May 22nd, 2007 at 06:23 AM.
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 06:39 AM
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I've never understood comments like the one from that Cinema Blend review. Just because a character isn't loud and flamboyant means they dont have a personality? I always thought Will Turners character showed through quite clearly but maybe i'm the only one who thinks so.
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 07:58 AM
Malene
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This time around I'm not reading a single review.I don't want to know of a single opinion of this before I see it myself.Only the opinions of fans of the franchise will be worth something to me.
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 03:07 PM
Leggybelle Leggybelle is offline
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Thanks Amby, for this latest review.....and I LOVE YOUR SIGGIE SET !!!
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 04:29 PM
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yes! we are getting great reviews! and yes we better surpass Spiderman 3's opening weekend takings.
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 11:52 PM
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Yay! Four stars! I'm so happy. As soon as this movie comes out, I get my Harry Potter book, and I watch the next movie, I can die happy.
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Old May 23rd, 2007, 11:24 PM
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A lot of the reviews I've been reading have been negative but here's a GREAT ARTICLE regarding negative reviews.

Quote:
No matter how much you, or your female friend who is in love with Johnny Depp, enjoys the third Pirates of the Caribbean that opens in theaters this weekend, critics around the world will be tearing it apart like a piranha on a fresh piece of meat. Why? Because they're attacking it like it's up for Best Picture at the Oscars and they need to defend why it doesn't deserve the honor, not sitting down, grabbing a bag of popcorn, and enjoying a long and fun flick with a few minor flaws.

You probably already knew it would be coming, but the early word spreading is that critics are giving nothing but negative feedback on Pirates of the Caribbean 3, and I'm here to squash that bug and defend what is truly a great film made for fans, despite what they'll claim to say.

The interesting thing to start, is that it's almost as if I'm predicting the fan's opinions and public response, which I definitely can't do. I know I can usually predict the buzz, which this time I can just about guarantee it will beat Spider-Man 3's opening records, but as to how every last person will perceive it, I can't say anything more than my own opinion. This isn't a review, but a prep and counter-argument for the soon-to-be-arriving swarm of negative reviews from professional critics.

I know quite a few people didn't like Pirates of the Caribbean 2 (just look at our own staff member Dave), but the third one takes a giant leap away from the difficulties of that sequel and, although not perfect, becomes a much more solid, almost “return to form" kind of Pirates of the Caribbean film. It's like Matrix Revolutions or Return of the King, where after you see it, it almost makes the second film in the series obsolete or dulls it down enough that we can accept it in our trilogy DVD collections without ever watching it.

The story this, or the character's that, or it's too unbelievable (well are pirates and mythical giant squids believable much to begin with?), it's too confusing, too much exposition, or any number of excuses and critical complaints is all they'll drum up about At World's End. However, they'll all say its got great special effects, it's fun and funny in spots, and compliment it in a few areas, but that's obviously going to be outweighed by so many negatives (here's one that just lists negatives one right after another). I've argued it before, but the harsh critiques these guys give have nothing to say for how you or how the public will take to a film, especially one that is as genuinely entertaining for the regular Pirates fan as this one!

Without watering down this argument too much, it's best I wait until Friday when the film is out and I've had a chance to gauge the opinions of fans and others, including our own Dave. The negative reviews from professional critics will be out there, but that won't have an impact on the film's attendance or anyone's own opinion. This is just how the film industry works nowadays, critics give bad opinions, films make money, the public usually has a differing opinion, and all is well in the world of Hollywood since the studios made their millions anyway. If anything, give Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End more of a chance than these critics will, and look at it for the entertaining blockbuster “popcorn flick" that it really is at its heart.
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Old May 24th, 2007, 07:49 PM
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Thanks for that, Babyjane.
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Old May 26th, 2007, 08:50 AM
Istariel Istariel is offline
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Incendiaries!!!

Warning: this guy is NOT a Pirates fan!! And watch out for the third paragraph...

Quote:
'Pirates': More Is Less (two stars)

By John Hartl, Film critic, MSNBC

Cliffhangers aren't what they used to be. Did anyone really consider that Johnny Depp's Capt. Jack Sparrow might NOT survive his battle with a ferocious sea monster at the end of last summer's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"? Did we really have to wait a year to find out if the next "Pirates" film would be Depp-less? Could the many-tentacled villain, Davy Jones, played by Bill Nighy, be triumphant, kick Depp out and take over the franchise? (That's actually a pretty cool idea but . . .nah.)

The low-budget, Saturday-matinee serials that inspired those last scenes in "Dead Man's Chest" were often more suspenseful and worrying because the B-movie actors who appeared in them were more expendable than Depp. They weren't top box-office draws appearing in blockbusters expected to hit the $1 billion mark. For that reason, there was never much question that Depp would rise again, if somewhat worse for wear, in "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," the third installment in the franchise that began four years ago with Disney's surprise smash, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl."

No "spoiler alert" is needed before acknowledging that Sparrow survives the battle with the squid-style kraken. Or, that he goes on to star in the longest (168 minutes), most convoluted, most experimental and probably the most expensive entry in the series. Whether it's the best or worst will be a matter of heated debate over the next few weeks, though even the most enthusiastic Depp fans may be put off by the length and the emphasis on action and special effects over story. It begins to feel like punishment, especially in the final reels, when the narrative appears to wrap up half a dozen times.

While Sparrow is definitely back, the movie begins not with him, but with a brutal mass hanging. This is accompanied by the announcement that habeas corpus has been suspended and apparently no one has any rights at all. Could this be producer Jerry Bruckheimer's attempt to introduce contemporary politics to the franchise? If so, he doesn't follow through, though there's a suggestion that the chief heavy has a New World Order in mind.

Sparrow's old enemy, Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) of the East India Trading Co., is up to his usual tricks, abusing his authority by indiscriminately stringing people up. He also means to do away with all pirates, including Sparrow. As in the second film, however, allegiances can shift and motivations may be fuzzy. "Pretend it's all a bad dream," advises Sparrow. "That's how I survive." Maybe that's the best way to get through "At World's End."

Opposed to Beckett's plans are Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), his girlfriend Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and the vampirish Capt. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). Stellan Skarsgård turns up again as Turner's father, and Naomie Harris makes the most of a key role as the ambiguous Tia Dalma. The freshest touch here is the introduction of Keith Richards (the acknowledged inspiration for Depp's performance) as Sparrow's father, Capt. Teague. He drops by for a few minutes to give Sparrow advice about survival, and he has a memorably eloquent response to his son's question, "How's Mum?" If you take a bathroom break, you may miss his big scene entirely, but he turns up later for a curtain call.

Also new to the franchise is Chow Yun-Fat, playing a Singapore pirate, Sao Feng, who paws at Swann but otherwise has shockingly little to do. The original director, Gore Verbinski, teams again with screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rosio but fails to develop the characters or encourage the relationships to grow and count. At worst, they risk turning sentimental.

Fortunately, Verbinski has not lost his gift for gallows humor. The makeup effects are as ghoulish as ever, and an episode about frostbitten toes is delightfully squirm-worthy. Computer-generated special effects make possible several cartoonish episodes, including one with a monkey blown out of a cannon and another with a tiny pirate who finds himself launched with his own gun.

Of the actors from the first two films, Bloom has improved most by avoiding self-consciousness and relaxing into his role. Richards, leathery and self-mocking at 63, is such a natural that you can't help wishing he had more to do.

This time around, Verbinski seems more interested in creating stunning visuals and playing games. A nighttime sequence in which the stars merge with the sea, while a ship stirs up the mirror-like water, is especially beautiful. Just as gorgeous is Verbinski's dramatic use of the "green ray" (celebrated in such movies as "Summer" and "A Flash of Green") that takes place under certain conditions at sunset.

Depp co-stars with several versions of himself in a couple of hallucinatory episodes, much like John Malkovich in "Being John Malkovich," but these are show-off moments. Just because Verbinski can do it doesn't mean he's found a good reason for doing it. And, there's already too much of Depp camping it up as Sparrow. This may be the third time, but the charm's worn off. No. 4 would really be pushing it.

Creating a successful sequel can be like trying to make lightning strike more than once in the same spot. It can be done, but it's especially hard to pull off a "threequel." Neither the new "Spider-Man" nor the new "Shrek" quite managed to do it, and the latest "Pirates" is even less successful. In the summer of 2006, "Dead Man's Chest" set a new opening-weekend box-office record that has since been eclipsed by "Spider-Man 3." No doubt "At World's End" will give the latter a run for its money in the opening-weekend category as well.

Still, that doesn't necessarily mean audiences or critics were satisfied with what finally made it to the screen. "Pirates" No. 2 was a good sales job, and "Pirates" No. 3 is expected to duplicate it. No. 1 may trail both films in total box-office receipts, but it's the one most people will remember.
W-T-*bleep*? Orlando is NOT a B-movie actor!! Where has this guy been for the last six years? Outer space? Oh, I know...snoozing in his seat because he's already written the review and is at the theatre just to prove he went!

Sheesh. At least Orlando's part got a bit of a nod even if this guy bluntly trashed the rest of things save for Keith Richards. You really have to wonder when the last time it was when this guy actually went to a movie with the idea of having fun instead of analyzing everything instead. I know he's a critic, but I think the day they get their license to critique, these people abandon their sense of fun...

Last edited by Istariel; May 26th, 2007 at 08:53 AM.
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  #22  
Old May 26th, 2007, 02:15 PM
Artanis
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Well, that's not one of my favorite reviews and that certainly did not make my morning any better, but thank you for posting it here regardless. We all know that Orlando's not a B movie actor.
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Old May 26th, 2007, 02:41 PM
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GeminiGirl GeminiGirl is offline
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Calm down ladies, he's not saying Orlando is a B-movie actor! He's talking about the actors who appeared in Saturday matinee serials...

~Gem~
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  #24  
Old May 26th, 2007, 03:07 PM
Artanis
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My bad. Sorry.
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Old May 26th, 2007, 05:22 PM
Istariel Istariel is offline
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Now that I read that part about the B-actors in that context, Gem...and not at 2 am in the morning when I'm fried from lack of sleep...I see what you mean, and so I quote Artanis:

Quote:
My bad. Sorry.
I should learn to not read stuff like critic reviews (which I do just for the laugh factor, because I form my own reviews and trust to the fans for reviews/explanations more than the "official" critiques, concerning how they get stuff wrong at times even though they went, they saw it...and they still goof it) very late at night, because my brain doesn't track well... The only thing worse is an interviewer who goes in to talk to Orlando and doesn't have their facts straight (most recent: the interviewer actually wrote in their article after the interview that Orlando was the older and Samantha the younger sib. Can't remember which, I was laughing too hard...)

Last edited by Istariel; May 26th, 2007 at 05:27 PM.
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