Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How Not To Tell A Story

So it’s Pirates of the Caribbean, movie 3, and grim times are ahead. The evil, law-abiding British East India Trading Company (which has for some reason expanded its reach worldwide) is headed for a thunderous showdown with the murdering, lawbreaking, good-guy pirate hordes.

Our Heroes spend most of the movie preparing for the showdown: first they have to go grab Jack Sparrow and the Pearl from the ditch the last movie stuck them in, then they have to all assemble at Pirate Stronghold Of The Week to convene the “Brethren Court”. After deliberation and argument up to the ceiling, they finally manage to convince the assembled Pirate Lords to elect a Pirate King, as according to the Pirate Code, and they all ride out and prepare for battle against the BEITC.

This is no small deal. There are (racist caricatures of) Pirate Lords from every (stereotyped) corner of Earth. There are battle flags being raised from all the great historical pirates of antiquity. Absolutely everything the pirates have is here on the table. And on the other side is a fleet composed of everything the enemy has, literally hundreds of warships ready to fight. 

So, to summarize: The characters have spent maybe the past 70 minutes of screen time getting to this godforsaken place, convincing the pirates to all assemble into one united fleet, and getting them to ride out and meet the enemy head-on. Two enormous fleets are ready to go. A humongous battle is clearly in the cards.

And we get… the Black Pearl and the Flying Dutchman duking it out for a solid 20 minutes.

Don’t get me wrong, that fight is pretty excellent. But what about the fleets? What about, you know, the fleet we spent the last hour and change assembling?

Well, the next time we see the pirate fleet is them celebrating at the end of the battle, which they took zero part in. As for the BEITC goons, the Dutchman and the Pearl combine to sink their flagship, and then they all go home.

Just like that.

The entirety of that time spent building up the fleet meant absolutely fuck-all in terms of the plot. They could have shaved off that hour of screen time, cut out those stupid scenes with multiple Jack Sparrows for good measure, and had more space for actual decent storytelling where the fat used to be!

And the Dutchman could've retired to the Bahamas a long time earlier than it did.

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