Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
|Featuring:||Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, Yun-Fat Chow, Stellan Skarsgård, Jack Davenport, Kevin R. McNally, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook, Andy Beckwith, Reggie Lee|
|Producer:||Bruce Hendricks, Mike Stenson, Chad Oman|
|Distributor:||Buena Vista Pictures|
When you are at the end of your rope, God is there to catch you—but not before. —Erwin W. Lutzer
Ahoy, Mates… Pirates beware!
The East India Trading Company, headed by the dastardly Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) has united with Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and the barnacled crew of The Flying Dutchman to wipe out all pirates everywhere forever.
In this third and just as lavish installment of the wildly popular “Pirates Of The Caribbean” series, our familiar characters Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), and Gibbs (Kevin R. McNally) team up with the mysterious Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) and the dread Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) along with some new nasties like Singapore pirate Captain Sao Feng (Yun-Fat Chow) to retrieve Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) from the clutches of The Kraken in a barren, forsaken place known to all Pirates as World’s End.
First off, I want to remind everyone that this is a movie based, after all, on a theme park ride, not a story that has anything remotely comparable with real life, and pirate legend which also has absolutely no sea legs in the real world. So there are no rules and no reason why Captain Jack can’t be fetched from the grim land he now inhabits, and Captain Barbossa is now back in the land of the living. In the mythical world of POTC a crisis threatens all pirates, so Jack’s compadres decide he must be rescued so they all can convene the Court of Brothers, the nine highest ranking pirates in the world, at Ship Wreck Cove and ultimately sail the Black Pearl against The Flying Dutchman to salty victory.
Swirling around the ever present love between Elizabeth and Will Turner is the chaos which ensues encompassing all these characters because of the double and triple crossing common between all pirates. The story hinges solidly upon three things: true love and friendships, Will’s need to save his long lost father Boot Strap Bill Turner (Stellan Skarsgård) which in turn includes saving all pirates from extinction, and the continuing conflict between good and evil.
In accord with the express wishes of Disney Studios that reviewers not let too much of the story line of “Pirates of The Caribbean: At World’s End” be told, I will keep all spoilers to myself so as not to ruin the movie goer’s experience. I will say that all loose ends from the previous two movies are creatively tied up. You decide if this is truly the final chapter.
After seeing notes from other reviewers who had the fortune (or misfortune, depending on their taste for all things pirate) to see the previewing of this third installment, the grades are either A or F and not much in between. So surmise it to say, you’ll either love it or hate it. I doubt I will find many neutral comments on this page. And more than likely many negatives because of the pirate image based in superstition alone, but bear in mind—this is Disney make-believe.
I for one, grew up in and around Disneyland in southern California, and never missed a chance to wait in line, sometimes over an hour, to shiver my timbers on the best ride Disney has to offer. I am a true fan, not unlike those of Star Trek, who keep up with the story line of POTC and each character’s persona with a delight even the most die hard Trekkers would commend. But, even though I enjoy these Disney films, a BIG viewer beware warning is advised here for all Christians and especially Christian parents.
Disney has seen fit to give “Pirates of The Caribbean: At World’s End” a PG-13 rating, which is extremely appropriate: this means no one under 13 years of age! Anyone under 13 will not understand much of the disturbing images of gore, violence that seems realistic, intense sequences of action/adventure, grisly macabre comedy, and some characters injured or impaled (surprisingly not much blood), some killed using some very frightening graphic images. Those of particular note are: two pirates who clash, and one is shot in the head, sexual innuendo, though light, is a part of pirate fancy, pirates are hanged in the beginning, including a boy (although not shown on screen, the implication is undeniable), and a scene where Davy Jones uses his slithery tentacles to gruesomely kill an opponent in order to retrieve the key everyone seems to be after.
And as the ride so states: …‘tis not for the faint of heart…
As a Christian, I would so like to say that this POTC has lots of redeeming qualities, but alas I cannot. Most Christians will stay away because of the pirate myth images, although not meant in any way as fact, they are indeed part of the pirate story, and the script would not be much without it. Some will not tolerate the mystic sea goddess Calypso, or the conjuring the misled pirates try to perform to get her to go back to the sea, the land of the dead, the idea of pirates being able to retrieve a lost soul (Jack and Captain Barbossa along with Will’s father, Boot Strap Bill), not to mention the beating heart within Davy Jones’ locker—ick!
There are macabre and gross-out images. Characters use some salty pirate language, but there is no profanity, and being pirates, they drink rum. There are some mildly ribald comments and some kisses. A great credit of the movie is the portrayal of the strength of true love and the use of many diverse minority characters endorsing the ability for them to eventually come together for the greater good of all. It is also worth noting that this film’s language is slightly less briny than its predecessors, and that it is subtly but clearly shown that the main characters wait until they are married to do anything more than kiss.
Christian families who see this movie should talk about the issues of trust and betrayal. Go to the Bible and discuss David and Saul and their relationship. They might also want to talk about how the filmmakers made the pirates the good guys by making the people on the other side even worse. Is the outside image what’s important, or is it the condition of a man’s heart? What does God see?
When it comes to the final hour, Pirates 3 delivers the utmost in excitement. The last 60 minutes offer adventure as rousing as anything provided in either of the previous two films, with the most explosive CGI effects—absolutely eye popping. Other than “Titanic” and “Saving Private Ryan,” this is the only movie more than two hours I have sat through and was totally entertained to the end, although thar might be some mates who disagree… argh!
I am reminded of a story told by the inspiring speaker Max Lucado about a man on an African safari deep in the Jungle. The guide in this story is much like the character of Jack Sparrow in POTC, he does a lot of stuff everyone around him thinks is crazy, but in the end it turns out he knew what he was doing all along.
The Lucado story goes like this:
The guide before the man had a machete and was whacking away the tall weeds and thick underbrush. The traveler, wearied and hot, asked in frustration, “Where are we? Do you know where you are taking me? Where is the path?!” The seasoned guide stopped and looked back at the man and replied, “I am the path.”
We ask the same questions, don’t we? We ask God, “Where are you taking me? Where is the path?” And He, like the guide, doesn’t tell us. Oh, He may give us a hint or two, but that’s all. If He did, would we understand? Would we comprehend our location? No, like the traveler, we are unacquainted with this jungle. So rather than give us an answer, Jesus gives us a far greater gift. He gives us Himself.
Does he remove the jungle? No, the vegetation is still thick.
Does he purge the predators? No, danger still lurks.
Jesus doesn’t give hope by changing the jungle; He restores our hope by giving us Himself. And He has promised to stay until the very end. “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20 NIV).
We need that reminder. Every single one of us needs that reminder. For all of us need hope. We know we are not equipped—we all want someone to lead us out.
As in most all myths and fairytales there is a boy and girl, Prince and Princess, or a central character like Peter in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” who longs to go home, capture a lover’s heart, secure the bond of marriage or save a trusted friend. The concept of longing as the signature quest of hero and heroine in children’s literature, or myth for that matter, is also a parallel with childhood and young adulthood. Love, salvation and virtue are all themes we relate to, especially as we pass from childhood into the adult world.
It wasn’t until C. S. Lewis converted to Christianity that he eventually realized what he’d been longing for: God. Not the treasures of the pirate world, not even the loves or spirits of fantasy worlds, but the God of the Bible—a real, living Being in whom we can have life forever.
The struggle between good and evil that twists and turns throughout all fantasy and “The Pirates of The Caribbean” films, too, is a spiritual one we all associate with, because first and foremost, before we consider ourselves physical beings we are spiritual beings. The spiritual side is one many people choose to disallow and ignore, but never the less it is there because God made us that way from the beginning. This is the side that longs for a king, for the happy ending, for truth and for love to win in the end. I can’t help but think of “The Lord of The Rings” and how violent and at times gruesome it was, but that is the nature of evil, and in the spiritual realms outside our conception and dimension, evil does most defiantly exist.
No matter how the story is told—a Lion king named Aslan, Oz of the Emerald City or a rouge pirate with a secret heart bent towards true love and friendship underneath his rough tattooed exterior, we enjoy these stories because we are all looking and longing to meet the True King in the end. Fantasies allow us to ride with the hero, bind evil for good, and indulge in the happy ending. Our spirits long for this, and if we have met Jesus we are knowing, even if it be subconsciously, that the true happy ending is ours forever more.
With our own friends, part of our role is to help them understand that their longing comes from an inborn desire to know the King of the universe. And, whether it be like the Beavers with Peter, or Captain Jack making it possible for Elizabeth and Will to have their own private island, we are to tell our friends about The King—that His return is at hand, know it or not, His love surrounds us, that He is on the move even now. Our rescue is imminent.
Above all, God is The King. Not Jack Sparrow or the Wizard of Oz or any human being, be he real or fantasy.
No one can save you but God. God is the only one who can catch you.
There is no one like the God of Israel. He rides across the heavens to help you, across the skies in majestic splendor. The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you. —Deuteronomy 33:26-27 NLT
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.