Home > Film, Opinions (Film) > Film: 30 Movies in 30 Days: Day 17

Film: 30 Movies in 30 Days: Day 17

This post is part of a month-long project, answering thirty topics about movies over thirty days. The subject for the seventeenth day is:

A movie that disappointed you the most

One film immediately came to mind for this one as an ideal example, but I’ve subsequently thought of something else that is at least as relevant that I also want to cover here. That means this will be a double entry, kicking off with the one I thought of first:

 

Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End

Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End

(Click the image for a link to the source)

The first film in the series, Curse of the Black Pearl, was a real surprise. Pirate films haven’t exactly been much of a success for some time but the film was fun, had a great cast (with Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow and Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa being the highlights), and a lot of great moments (such as Jack’s initial entrance on a sinking ship). It told an entertaining story of cursed pirate gold and betrayal and was a great film, so expanding it into a trilogy didn’t sound like a bad idea.

Then came Dead Man’s Chest, and like most sequels it threw in a few more storylines to keep track of. With Barbossa defeated in the first film it added two new villains, Davy Jones (who ferries those lost at sea into the afterlife after offering them the chance to join his crew) and the East India Company’s Cutler Beckett. Jack needs to find Jones’ heart (stored in the titular chest) to force Jones to call off the kraken that’s been sent after him, Beckett wants the heart to control Jones and the kraken to give him control over the entire sea and wipe out all pirates, and Will wants the heart to stab it and free his father from Jones’ service. There are a lot of threads running concurrently and there are some action sequences (the island tribe and the lengthy sword fight) that go on a bit too long but I still liked the film, which was a lot of fun and managed to further develop its characters and give them some great moments.

Then came At World’s End. One of the strangest things about the film is that it was filmed back-to-back with Dead Man’s Chest but doesn’t in any way feel like it, coming across more as a sequel that the writers tried to shoe-horn onto a predecessor that wasn’t set up for it.

Dead Man’s Chest essentially backs At World’s End‘s plot into a corner, giving Beckett the kraken to control the sea and enabling him to wipe out every pirate without ever going near the water himself, and ‘killing’ Jack in a way that sets up a major expedition into Davy Jones’ locker to save him. It gets around those by making Beckett inexplicably force Jones to kill the kraken to prove his power over him (meaning he just wanted Jones rather the powerful, unstoppable kraken) and having the locker be more of a personal torment for Jack that is tricky to leave and find (thought not that tricky) rather being a particularly dangerous place itself.

With Beckett and Jones united they become the major villains, forcing the writers to make the pirates into good guys, free spirits who refuse to be chained down by the laws and rules of the landlubbers rather than greedy villains who rape and pillage to serve their own needs. They have a council they all obey with all sorts of rules, they’ve enslaved a god, and essentially there’s very little left of the pirates as they were presented in the first film (or even the second).

The story gets far too convoluted (and I say that was somebody who bought into everything from Dead Man’s Chest), a lot of moments (including the final battle) don’t make sense, the pirates aren’t what they used to be, some of the cast are wasted (including Chow Yun-fat) or killed off nonsensically, some of the existing cast become essentially different characters, and the film as a whole is just incredibly unsatisfying. It’s a shame because there are occasional moments where the good shines through (like with Jack’s manipulation of the council) but they’re wasted in a bad film.

And now for the other film, which as far as I can recall was my first major Hollywood disappointment:

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

(No source as the image came from an illegal download site)

I was really looking forward to The Lost World, not just because I enjoyed Jurassic Park but also because I’d already read Michael Crichton’s excellent book version (which was at least as good as the first book, if not better) and knew all of the potential it had. For some reason they chose to ignore all but the most general elements of the book – Ian Malcolm as the central protagonist, the second island, some of the characters – so that they could tell their own story, and it was terrible. Good characters were left out in exchange for new, obnoxious ones, new dinosaurs left out in place of focusing on the same ones as the first film, the book’s tense moments stripped out and replaced with much worse ones (including a Tyrannosaur rampaging through the city, with all kinds of ‘wacky’ reactions from the people who encounter it).

There’s just so much about it that’s bad and for me it was a double whammy of disappointment, being both a lousy sequel to a film I enjoyed and a terrible book-to-movie adaptation, and was also possibly my first experience of both. For me The Lost World: Jurassic Park has pride of place when it comes to disappointing mediocrity.

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