Everything Wrong With the "Pirates" Movies
The Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy
Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightly, and Geoffrey Rush
Director: Gore Verbinski
*Note: I will not be focusing on the fourth film On Stranger Tides (2011). Just the original trilogy*
It's well known that when the first film was being made, none of the filmmakers ever expected that what they were making would immediately become one of Disney's most successful blockbuster franchises.
Exciting adventure, memorable characters, incredible music, awesome battles, and a whole bunch of other stuff that, for the time, we had never seen before. It's just an all around fun ride (No pun intended). I remember after I saw the first movie, my first reaction was "I want to see it again!!!", and I did the next day.
However, the Pirate movies are NOT without their flaws. I think we can all agree that the first movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), is a masterpiece, or at the very least, the best one out of the trilogy. But what started out as an exciting movie series ended up becoming a huge disappointment to many fans with the events of the next two movies, Dead Man's Chest (2006) and At World's End (2007)
Here are the problems that I had with the movies:
Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) was the main villain of the first movie and left quite an impression on us. He was not a pirate that you wanted to cross paths with and he played off of Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) really well. His storyline was quite simple to follow: Barbossa started out as Jack's First Mate. He ended up taking over the ship and marooned Jack on a deserted island. Jack, however, was able to escape the island and vowed to get revenge on Barbossa for betraying him. The story played well in the movie, leading up to an amazing climax. In the end, Jack got his revenge and his ship back.
However, at the end of the second movie, Barbossa was resurrected to help our heroes fight against a common enemy. His return was a bit disappointing to me. As a result, his charm had declined throughout the rest of the movies. They should have just left the character dead while he was still a memorable villain.
Here's how I'd have done it: Dead Man's Chest ended with Jack and the Black Pearl being eaten by the Kraken. While the other characters mourn over Jack's death, they are given an opportunity to go to the ends of the world to bring Jack back to the land of the living. However they need a captain to lead them. Instead of the choice being Barbossa, a villain our heroes worked hard to kill in the first movie, I think it would've been better if the captain who led them to World's End was Jack's father!!!
Before the second movie even came out, there was all this hype about Rolling Stones guitarist, Keith Richards, receiving the role of Jack's father, Captain Teague. Since Depp had originally used Richards as an influence for the character of Jack Sparrow, it seemed only appropriate to cast the inspirational man as the character's old man. But to our disappointment, Richards' character only made a small cameo in the third movie, At World's End. Pretty disappointing with all the build up in media that he had.
So I would have had Jack's father be the one to lead our heroes to World's End and for the character's ending line in Dead Man's Chest, I would have Captain Teague say "So tell me... what's become of my son?". Immediately we would have known that it was Richards and anyone not familiar with Richards would have instantly known that this man must be Jack's father. It would have made a much better twist and a much better entrance for Richards.
The Pirates movies had given us so many memorable characters. Especially Jack Sparrow. In the first movie, we had come to love them all, but their development in the next two films would see their charms lost and come off as quite annoying at times. They begin to scheme against each other and willing to sacrifice one another for their own personal gain, thus making it hard for them to trust one another and causing the bonds that they formed together in the first movie to slowly break apart.
Jack Sparrow is the spotlight stealer. A title he carries throughout the entire series. In the first movie, he's brave and selfless when he needs to be, but in the other two movies he's brave and selfless when he wants to be. He is seen as more of a coward and only cares about himself.
Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) became Jack's greatest ally in the first movie. The way they moved, looked out for each other, and fought together looked like they were both sharing a brain. So they made an excellent team. However, Will became more loyal to himself than anyone else in the other two films. He had sunk to making deals with pirates in order to get what he desired.
Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly) started out likable in the first movie, but as the series progressed the love for her character began to decline. Many have said that the reason for this was because actress Keira Knightly wasn't interested anymore. Judging by her performance in the other two films, this is a good theory.
Barbossa was a man who was established as "A man so evil that Hell itself spat him back out". But as the series went on, his character's relationship with Jack was downgraded from a battle between good and evil to just a common rivalry.
The other loyal members of Jack's crew have followed him for three movies and in the end they abandoned him and signed on with Barbossa's crew
THE THIRD MOVIE
The third movie, At World's End, is where things really got messed up! Many fans and critics have said that the story is the main problem. It's too confusing and hard to follow. I heard, somewhere, that the cast, themselves, didn't even understand the story while they were filming it.
Even the filmmakers didn't have much faith in the film. I remember reading in Entertainment Magazine, before the movie came out, that the filmmakers were giving us a heads up not to expect it to be as good as the first. When there is a lack of faith, like that, then you begin to lose interest and the movie had not even premiered yet.
It's so difficult to make sense of anything in this movie. There are so many different schemes going on that it's hard to keep track of what every single character's motives are.
One of the most confusing aspects that the film introduces us to is the politics of pirates. The politics are run by the nine Pirate Lords and as it turns out, both Jack and Barbossa are two of the Pirate Lords! If the two of them have such an important part to play in politics, then why are they spending so much time trying to kill each other? How did Barbossa become one? Who takes over their position after one of them dies? Basically pirate politics are poorly explained.
The newest pirate of the franchise, Sao Feng, was well advertised during the promotion of the film. He was in the trailers, on posters, etc. We all expected him to play a big part in the movie, but in actuality, he died halfway through the film and the lack of action for his character caused him to be quickly forgotten.
The entire final battle is just two ships fighting in a whirlpool in the middle of a storm. So, yeah, the filmmakers went all out to make it as epic as a battle can be. I do have to admit, I did enjoy the battle for the most part... until the wedding. Yes, a WEDDING!!! In the middle of an epic battle, Will and Elizabeth decide to get married, at that moment, in case one of them got killed before the battle ended. And who did they get to do the ceremony? BARBOSSA!!!! Yes, a pirate, who just two movies ago, would have killed them without a second thought ends up being the one who marries them!!
The Wedding (I Dare You to Watch This With a Straight Face)
And what about the villains?
Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) was forced to work for Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) because Beckett had Jones' heart. However, during the final battle, Beckett idiotically left the heart on Davy Jones' ship, the Flying Dutchman, while he commanded his own ship! Why would Beckett leave the one bit of leverage he had of controlling Davy Jones so close to Jones himself? What was to stop Jones from taking it back? If Beckett had wanted to be certain that Jones remained loyal to him, wouldn't Beckett have kept the heart as close to himself as possible and not in a place that it could be so easily taken?
Cutler Beckett was the villainous mastermind in the second and third movie. But his ending was one of the most disappointing parts of the movie. When the Black Pearl and the Flying Dutchman, now under the command of Will, turn on Beckett's ship, he doesn't even fight back!! When he sees the two ships coming at him he immediately loses faith and gives up. He's got a powerful ship with three rows of cannons on both sides. Shouldn't he have at least tried to fight back? He causes all this trouble in the movies and yet when the odds are suddenly against him, he does nothing about it!!
Cutler Beckett's Death
You expect a main villain to be part of an epic final battle, not the easiest battle in history!! I can understand that they needed to get rid of Beckett quickly because the movie was getting to be too long, but don't you think that just maybe they could've shortened the Davy Jones battle to make room for a battle with Beckett?
All in all, the third movie was a huge disappointment and many fans lost interest in the franchise afterwards.
IN THE END... NOTHING IS GAINED
One of the most basic parts of any story is the process of building towards something of improvement by the end. The first Pirates movie gave us just that... AND TOOK IT ALL AWAY BY THE END OF THE THIRD MOVIE!!!!! Every achievement from the first movie was practically taken away by the end of the third movie.
In the first movie, Jack had gotten his revenge on Barbossa. However, at the end of the second movie, Barbossa returned thus robbing Jack of his revenge.
In the first movie, Jack had also gotten his ship back. At the end of third movie Barbossa had taken Jack's ship from him again! Leaving Jack to exit the trilogy the same way he had entered it in the beginning.
At the end of the first movie, Will had finally expressed his love to Elizabeth and they lived happily together. By the end of the third movie they had gotten married, but because of Will's new job with the Flying Dutchman ship, they couldn't be together.
All the characters are building towards something, but in the end, for the most part, the trilogy ends up right back where it started with the first movie.
The Curse of the Black Pearl: 5/5
Dead Man's Chest: 3/5
At World's End: 2/5
Overall, the Pirates movies are still major blockbusters and the franchise is continuing on with the fourth film, On Stranger Tides. The fifth movie, Dead Men Tell No Tales is, as of right now, set for 2017. So there are still much more pirate adventures to come. Will the franchise ever be able to recover the charm it had in the first film? Highly unlikely, at this point. But there's still hope for it being a fun adventure.