Last week’s post about the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie hinted that I was having difficulty reconciling its summer blockbusterness (and all the suckiness that usual entails) and the feeling that there was something more to be discovered under the distracting explosions and swordplay. Ryland Walker Knight, writing at The House Next Door, says that Pirates trilogy is a film series worth watching seriously (emphasis mine):
The Caribbean world of Verbinski’s trilogy is, after the first film, one of constant shuffling, of tangential narrative ruptures: the world of the film, like the world we audience members live in, is chaotic. Of course, this Caribbean world is not the world we live in. In our world, there are no giant mythological squids or sea goddesses, but there are, however, pirates - and daily acts of piracy. And there are social dictums, social pacts, that we appropriate and reconstitute on an individual basis, to live with ourselves, to live with the world. The main thrust of this trilogy is that reckoning: How will we live in the world when our autonomous freedom is continually challenged?
It’s certainly not a stretch to make the connection between the autonomous freedom theme and the US government’s recent actions to limit freedoms in the name of fighting the “global war on terror”. The Onion AV Club’s Noel Murray didn’t read that much into it, but he did think it was more than just swashbuckling and gunnery:
No, I’d rather argue that Pirates is not junk. It may be a lousy movie — I’ll accept that argument, even if I more or less disagree — but it’s not just, as Nathan Lee writes in his Village Voice review, “a delivery system for two kinds of special effect: those created by computers, and those generated by Johnny Depp.” I believe that a genuine effort to delight — and not just subdue — has been made here. The movie contains the same kind of preoccupation with clockwork gags and bad guys accidentally doing good that’s been part of The Verbinski Method since Mouse Hunt. Like it or not, Pirates does have a brain, and a soul.
I almost want to go see it again, to watch it not as a blockbuster but as a film that might have a little something to say.