Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End

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The end of Western civilisation. Mark's review - which came down the line from Cannes, with Simon Mayo at the Open golf - ran for an full, (almost) uninterrupted 11 minutes, thus:

MARK: Well, I think it's important to say that one goes into these things with an open mind -

SIMON: Yeah, right.

MARK: No, but look, ok. Historically, the first Pirates movie was absolute bilge -

SIMON: Wrong!

MARK: - No, it was, it was rubbish, and it ended up taking like a billion dollars worldwide, which was really, really terrifying. The second one was kind of worse, because it was longer, and it was like a holding pattern, because it went on for like 150 minutes and nothing happened. I mean, a bunch of stuff happened, but nothing actually happened, just a bunch of stuff happened. And when it came out on DVD, I said to everybody, 'you should boycott this movie - if this stuff does well it's your own fault.' And it came out on DVD, and I was told this terrifying thing that it was the fastest-selling DVD of all time. Somebody - it may even have been you - said that on the day it was released, one in five DVDs that were sold was Pirates Of The Caribbean 2.

So, we get - I had to go to Nice firstly, so I go to Nice to see it in Version Originale - and I'm really heartened, because I get into the cinema and there's only four other people in the cinema. It's a two o'clock screening - ok, admittedly it's an English screening in France, but there's quite a lot of English-speaking people in France; it was largely Americans in there. So you sit down, ok, and you think, 'ok, we're here for 168 minutes.'

The film starts off with a hanging sequence - a sequence in which a whole bunch of people are hanged, including underage people; probably the most misjudged opening of any allegedly family-friendly movie I have seen in a long time. You're sitting there thinking, 'they've totally lost the plot. They've decided to go dark for the third Pirates movie. What on Earth are they playing at? This is not something that needs to go dark - this is something that needs to lighten up, this is something that needs to be entertaining.' But no - we have this really long, really sort of drawn out, really completely out-of-place hanging sequence at the beginning. And the BBFC guidelines - I looked it up - say 'contains moderate horror and action adventure violence.' If it said 'contains completely inappropriate darkness at the beginning that is absolutely out of kilter with the rest of the film and has no right being there' - fine.

So we get through that. Then, after the opening sequence, the plot - or more precisely the plots - start. And, if you remember any of the plot threads that were at the end of Pirates Of The Caribbean 2, it's like: somebody's got to go off and get a heart; somebody's got to find an island; somebody's got to get a treasure map; somebody's got to get a compass; somebody's got to sing a song; somebody's got to stand on their head and turn round 38 times; Orloondo Bland has got to go and find his dad for some reason that is not clear to anybody, other than the fact that Stellan Skarsgård is clearly picking up the cheque and he's a great actor so I'm happy that he's employed.

So, it starts. And it goes on a little bit, and I'm thinking, 'I'm really dreading the moment that Johnny Depp's going to come on and do that Keith Richards impression that we all know wasn't funny the first time, and really wasn't funny the second time, and here we go - he's going to do it a third time.' And then the movie plods along, you know - Keira Knightley and Orloondo Bland and all the rest of it all happening - and no Johnny Depp! It's 35 minutes before Johnny Depp actually arrives on screen. And I'm starting to think, 'this is really clever - because what they've done is, they've realised that Johnny Depp is so terrible in the film that they're withholding him; they're withholding him because actually everything else in the film is going to do better without him.'

But no.

Thirty-five minutes in, Johnny Depp turns up. But not just one Johnny Depp. Ten Johnny Depps turn up at the beginning. And there's a brilliant line in Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, which is referring to Arthur Dent meeting up with Ford Prefect, and it says 'he's one of those people that you couldn't see him for months at a time, and then as soon as you saw him, he was immediately annoying.' And Johnny Depp in Pirates Of The Caribbean 3 is exactly that - but he's immediately annoying squared; he's immediately annoying to the power of 10, because there are 10 of him.

And there's a little bit of business about, 'oh, Johnny Depp's dead, but he's in the underworld' - all this stuff seems to exist purely to show off the fact they've got a special effect that can turn a stone into a crab. Great, brilliant, marvellous - not enough to hang a feature film on, but hey - well done to the special effects guys.

Then, they escape from the underworld that he got into at the end of the last movie (because I think Keira killed him but I can't quite remember - there was something to do with a kraken), then they all get together and say, 'ok, off we go on the various plot strands again.' And it's business as usual. There's actually one line in this where somebody says, 'one person has the ninth piece of eight,' which is just about as coherent as any form of plot synopsis gets.

On the IMDB Trivia page, it says, 'the most amazing thing about Pirates 3 is that they started filming without a completed script.' No, they finished filming without a completed script. So they just ended up with a montage of bits - a whole bunch of special effects; a little bit of him doing that; a bit of yeah, everyone else - and they just stuck them together in any order, and they didn't cut any of it out. They just said, 'there's 168 minutes, shove it out into the cinema and everyone will buy it' - because everyone has clearly had some kind of terrible joint lobotomy, so that nobody any longer has the guts to stand up and say 'this is absolutely terrible, and what are we doing here - actually we should walk out the cinema and go next door, where they're showing Zodiac.'

However - Johnny Depp? Least of the problems. Let's start with Keira Knightley. Because clearly, Keira Knightley's agent has been speaking to the scriptwriters and saying, 'look, it's fabulous - we're really pleased that Keira's back in the movie again - obviously wonderful. The thing is, up until now, she has really been window-dressing. And what we really think is that Keira needs to expand her role. And why don't you make Keira a pirate? Because I think, really, she could do pirate.' So, through the most ridiculous, contrived plot device, Keira Knightley actually ends up being King Of All Pirates In All The World Ever. So Keira Knightley, King Of The Pirates. This means Keira Knightley has to do two things. Firstly, she has to do the pirate 'aaar' - you know, 'aaar haar haar haar' - but of course when Keira Knightley does it, its like, 'yah, yah, hallo, ah haah haah haah.' Then, she has to do a rabble-rousing speech which is basically like that speech that Mel Gibson does in Braveheart about 'they can take our lives but they can never take her freedom' - only when Keira Knightley does that speech, it basically sounds like the Head Girl addressing a convention of Fifth Formers on prize-giving day at the end of term.

So, Keira, disastrous: given more to do; messes it up it terribly. And then we have the magisterial talent of Orloondo Bland. Now, there has always been a problem with Orloondo, which is that very early on the script had a relationship between the Keira Knightley character and the Orloondo Bland character. Nobody at that point realised that the minute you got Orloondo Bland on screen, nobody would care what happened to him - he's so wet; he's so drippy; he's so completely ineffectual; nobody cares about him. So in the second one, there was this sort of attempt to make the Keira Knightley character somehow interested in the Johnny Depp character, because everybody else in the audience - other than me - was interested in the Johnny Depp character, and kind of didn't care what happened to Orloondo Bland. So this time, we have to take Orloondo Bland and take some kind of interest in him. Now, he's acting this love interest against Keira Knightley. Now, Keira Knightley's acting has always been wooden. But this time, it is like a petrified forest of woodeness. I mean, you really feel like you could build a very nice piece of Ikea furniture out of her performance - it's that bad. And when she and Orloondo Bland are on screen together, it's like watching two chairs mating. There's a scene in which they have to kiss, and it's literally like, 'what is that? Is that a nest of tables? No! It's Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley having some sort of red-hot passionate embrace!' It is positively teaky. You feel like you need to get out the varnish and varnish it.

So I'm going to give away a plot point now. If you're going to sit through Pirates Of The Caribbean 3: At World's End - and believe me, never was a film more accurately named - turn your ears away from the radio now. Because there is a moment towards the end of this film in which it is contrived to have Keira Knightley can get married to Orlando Bloom, but she can only see him for one day in every 10 years. I'm sorry - if somebody made me that offer, I'd take it right now. If somebody said to me, 'if you marry Orlando Bloom, you won't have to see him again for another 10 years, and when you do and so on, do you take this man' - 'absolutely, I will take him right now.' If I only have to see him one day every 10 years, sign me up, because I don't think I stand another moment of sitting in the cinema watching this dribblesome bore waltz around like somebody out of a Milk Tray advert. I mean, how on Earth has he become the prominent actor that he has? He killed Kingdom Of Heaven stone dead, and in this he's actually got worse than before.

And then we have the mighty Johnny Depp performance. So, Johnny Depp started off doing this performance as basically Keith Richards - although actually, he wasn't really doing Keith Richards as far as I can tell, he seemed to be doing David Bowie around the period of The Laughing Gnome. Everyone says, 'oh, it's a great impression of Keith Richards', but it didn't - it sounded like 'David Bowiee, hellooo, oh, I'm the Pirate King Jack Sparrooow' - that's not Keith Richards, that's David Bowie. But the big gag with Pirates Of The Caribbean 3 is - guess what - Keith Richards is actually going to turn up. So you sit there, and you fall asleep, and you wake up, and you fall asleep, and you stretch your back a little bit, and you feel most of your lower body start to go numb - then about two hours of the way through, Keith Richards turns up. And here's how it goes. Keith Richards goes 'hrrahheraghr', and Johnny Depp goes 'hrrurrsrruggsrher', and Keith Richards goes 'hrrurrsmarrhghr'. If you thought Johnny Depp was bad at being Keith Richards, you should see Keith Richards trying to be Keith Richards. I mean there was a ripple of sort-of appreciation in the audience which, as far as I could tell, was entirely for the fact that Keith Richards was still alive at all. But he's even worse at doing on-screen Keith Richards than Johnny Depp is. And between them, this incredible in-joke about, 'oh it's so funny, up until now I've been doing Keith Richards, and now here he actually is' - it's like, 'no. No. All of you. Rolling Stones? Don't care. Go away. I never want to see the Rolling Stones, I never want to ever see another Pirates Of The Caribbean movie' - despite the fact that at the end of this, there is a door left open for there to be another one.

The whole thing goes on forever. I added this up, right - first movie, 142 minutes; second movie, 150 minutes; this, 168 minutes - I make the best part of eight hours of my life. Stanley Kubrick went from the beginning of civilisation -

SIMON: (Whistles)

MARK: - to the dawn of a new breed of human being in just over two hours. This has taken them eight hours to get from Point A to Point A. It's enough. It has to stop now. And really, if you pay money to go and see Pirates Of The Caribbean, it's your own fault - and you're bringing down the collapse of Western civilisation.

I had a feeling in my waters that actually Gore Verbinski was going to pull it out of the bag and do something that would make me have to say, 'I'm wrong'. But you know what? I'm so right. I am so right. It is so bad.

SIMON: I haven't been on for 15 minutes.

You can view the rant here.