Tuesday, May 29, 2007
At Cinema's End
Ryland's got his review of Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End up at The House Next Door (Warning: There Be Spoilers!), so I'd thought I'd kick in the two cents I wrote last week about the film, in response to complaints that the two sequels are such much messier than the tidy first film (an aspect Ryland touches on as well).
The messiness of it, the sheer crazy incomprehensible insanity of the whole enterprise is exactly what I love about Pirates 2 & 3. I thought the first one was alright, but aside from Depp, it was pretty standard. These last two though, are just all over the map.
So many action/adventure blockbuster movies are straightforward and earnest and linear, full of exposition and tearful Tobeys. The last two Pirates, though, are wholly unique. Avant-garde summer blockbusters that are in every way Anti-Ratners.
I thought of two films while watching At World's End, and the first is Miami Vice, a beautiful, expositionless tone poem of a film in an action movie's clothing. Pirates 3 is a beautiful film, with some fascinating imagery and only tops the intricately complex and deep compositions of the second one, especially in the action sequences. The baroque Looney Tunes stunts within frames of overwhelming detail are always stunning, the only action sequence I've seen equal it is in the opening shots of Revenge Of The Sith.
Which is a nice segue to the second movie I was reminded of . . . Star Wars (oh yeah, I said it). We ran Star Wars at the theatre Tuesday night for the staff (for the anniversary: the original, non-Special Edition one, naturally). I was struck again by just how relentless the last half of the film is, and how little information there is to orient the viewer. It's just one action sequence after another, with the bare minimum of information conveyed as efficiently as possible in a few lines of dialogue to connect the action. Now, the Pirates films aren't as good as Star Wars (I'm not that crazy). But they're clearly following the same model and I think they work for the same reason.
I just find the anti-Pirates camp to be inexplicable. Too me, it's like saying there weren't enough explosions in Citizen Kane. I don't understand what it is they expect . . . a straightforward narrative? Bleh. Give me chaos instead any day.
And all of this is not to mention the fascinating web of ideological explorations in the Pirates films. Many a master's thesis can (and will) be written on the transformations in the sexualities of Depp and Knightly in these movies.