Overall, I liked this film better than the last. Dead Man's Chest felt like two hours of set up for this film and Davey Jones just wasn't that interesting of a character and, more importantly, villain. AWE (Oh, there is the abbreviation of irony) did provide answers (if you paid really close attention and thought really hard) and did give closure to the characters and various relationships...not that I liked much of it.
Before I start bitching, let me tell you what I did like:
* The cinematography and effects. Yes, I know you are all thinking that's the compliment of desperation when you can find nothing else good to say about a summer blockbuster, but I couldn't even pay that compliment to the Star Wars prequels. AWE had some truly stunning sequences. The ship sailing through the glaciers. The rocks turning into crabs. The Pearl sailing through sand. Davey Jones and his crew looking impossibly real.
* Seeing Governor Swann's soul left adrift, Elizabeth coming to realize her father was dead, her desperation to save him, and his telling her how proud he was of her - it broke my heart a little.
* Keith Richards and the subtlety of his performance. When I first heard he was cast as Jack's father I expected him to make a grand entrance, all swagger and slurred speech with Johnny following suit, but there was none of that. Keith, to his credit, took the role quite seriously and played it straight. The only hint of an in-joke was when he picked up the guitar, but that I didn't have a problem with since it felt like a character trait, something this guy does as chaos ensues around him. Actually, the only reveal that we got that this was Jack's father was Johnny's 'Oh, crap, me dad's here' expression upon first hearing his name and his casual, "So how's mother?" at the end of the scene.
* Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa. Perhaps the only man who could have upstaged Johnny Depp...and did.
* The monkey who went from evil to hero. He allowed himself to get shot out of a canon. Talk about taking one for the team.
* Johnny Depp can convey so much with just his facial expressions. Even when he's relegated to the background. Did you see how pained Jack was as Elizabeth pleaded with her father to come aboard the Pearl? My favorite moment though was the utter horror he expressed as Will was stabbed through the heart. Suddenly, his thoughts of immortality and infamy are replaced by the knowledge that his friend is about to die. And I love the fact that this guy that everyone sees as a self-serving bastard who would leave them all to die sacrifices what he sees as his future to obtain justice for Will and possibly save his life.
So now let's move on to the what the f***ery of the rest of the film:
* Norrington's death. The guy had a pretty good arc going. He was on top on TCotBP, hit bottom in DMC and made a deal with the devil to get his name and station back. I expected him to be redeemed before dying here. Someone should have told the writers that redemption cannot be adequately shown through two brief, 'Oops, I think I made a mistake' scenes. Then he gets killed by Bootstrap a character we are suppose to feel sympathy for and apparently went crazy since the last film.
* Chow Yun-Fat was wasted. Sao Feng had a lot of potential, but apparently he was only around to set up a case of mistaken identity with Elizabeth and to position her to become the pirate king.
* The Tia/Calypso/Davey Jones connection most of us figured out at the end of the last film and that may be the last time the relationship made any sense. She wasn't where she was suppose to be after ten years, he got pissed at her 'betrayal' and supposedly told the other pirates how they could imprison her in human form. Now the pirates think by freeing her she'll assist them in taking down Davey and the British Naval fleet. Accept she still loves Davey and didn't know of his betrayal. Is it just me or is this incredibly convoluted? To make matters worse, after all the build up to Calypso being freed to unleash her wrath she becomes the fifty foot woman (thank you beccatoria ;), mutters some unintelligible words, turns into a whole lot of crabs, then, I guess, turns into her natural form of water and wind creating a big storm that, um, really doesn't do much but get everyone wet.
* I am not a Will/Elizabeth shipper at all, but, boy did their ending piss me off. It's a big budget popcorn movie. We expect the boy and girl to end up together, not end up together once every ten years. I'm not sure which character suffered the worse fate. Elizabeth lost her father, her husband, her friends (such as they are), and her dream of being a pirate. Heck, she wasn't just a pirate, she was the pirate king. At the end of the film (assuming you stayed through the credits) we see that she has spent the next ten years being a single mom to Will Jr. and is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her husband. Will gets to spend eternity ferrying souls to their final resting place and, considering the shorter life spans back then, probably gets to see Elizabeth three or four times if he's lucky. But at least he gets to hang out with his nutty dad.
blondheroine posted an excerpt of a post by one of the writers, Terry Rossio, at the Wordplayer forums elaborting on Will and Elizabeth's fates. Since the original link no longer works here's some of what she found in reference to Will and Elizabeth:
"I don't know that I would say, "forbidden." There might be some story to be told where Elizabeth manages to make a trip to the land of the dead, with the help of someone, etc., etc., to find Will, etc.
But the basic requirement is that Will agrees captain the Flying Dutchmen (in return for what the film reveals) and that he can step on land but once every ten years, and that at any time, if he finds a love that is true (this is part of the original Flying Dutchman opera by the way) then his attachment to the ship is broken. "
Um, so we were suppose to know that when Will returns at the end he's returning to Elizabeth and his son permanently? And, if so, who takes over the Dutchman's duties? Considering all the exposition that went on during the film, they couldn't have mentioned this loophole at some point? Ack
* I guess Jack's ending was OK. I suppose it was meant to mirror his introduction to us. Once again he's off to reclaim his ship. Still, I wished for something with a little more oomph.