Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

The nominations:

  • Achievement in Makeup
  • Achievement in Visual Effects

The Black-and-White:

Last year’s third installment of the Pirates franchise didn’t disappoint die-hard fans. It had every bit of the snappy dialogue, beautiful costumes and sets, and great action and visual effects sequences as the earlier two films. The problem for the less die-hard among us is that it may just have had had too much of all of those things.

Here’s the oscar.com synopsis:

Captain Jack Sparrow is trapped in the netherworld of Davy Jones’s Locker, with his only hope of rescue lying in the hands of his friends Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. With the help of Captain Barbossa, the pair set out from Singapore to find Jack, and then take on Cutler Beckett, the evil head of the East India Trading Company, and Davy Jones himself in an attempt to free Will’s father from Jones’s grasp.

Let me say a few words about this film, but concentrate mostly on the the nominations.

The film, overall, was solid, but not spectacular. Geoffrey Rush comes into his own in this movie, and gave a nuanced and solid performance. Orlando was, well, Orlando, and for those who like him, he gives a decent performance here, enhanced by his usual eye-candy presence, for those who like that sort of thing.

The story had flaws. First, it was 2 hours and 39 minutes long. That’s just laziness on the part of the storytelling. Granted the movie was complicated, pulling together elements from the previous installments, but still — there is no excuse for making an epic-length picture out of a Pirates movie.

More problematic, however, was that the story was joyless. This seems to be a common trend in sequels. I’m thinking of the Harry Potter franchise in particular — what started as such a fun, magical voyage into a mystical world, slowly evolved into a dark, brooding, joyless battle between good and evil. Bring back the Quiddich, I say!

But I digress. Back to the Pirates

What was missing in this film was a definite shortage of Johnny Depp. Whenever he was on screen, it was like a breath of fresh air in the movie. Unfortunately he was kept on a short leash, but he still managed to bring a bit of fun and levity into an overly long, and comparatively uninteresting, movie.

In terms of the nominations, however, the movie shone. Coming into the movie, I was an advocate of Transformers for the Achievement in Visual Effects Oscar. I am still impressed in what Transformers achieved, but Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End took it to an entirely different level. Let’s face it, with a dearth of Johnny Depp in the movie, all that remains are the visual effects. And they were magnificent. An entirely different world was constructed. In fact, several worlds appeared on the screen, and the integration with the “real” was seemless, believable, and breathtaking. There is no doubt Pirates wins Oscar in this category.

The makeup was similarly fantastic. While Edith Piaf’s aging process was inpressive in La Vie en Rose, every single character in Pirates was made up to the nines. And the make up worked. It was believable, interesting, consistent, and more than that, it was an integral part of the story. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End sets the standard in this category, and will go home, again, with an Oscar well-deserved.

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