I liked it more the second time--I'd felt so battered by spectacle that I had to see it again to really look at what the movie was about, as a narrative. Which is a highfalutin way of saying, it flowed better once I knew what was going to happen, as opposed to beating me about the head with awesomeness. I felt the same way about Dead Man's Chest, although that one's a crazy, sunny romp, so I didn't really care if it was a "good" movie or not. But I did need a second viewing to get my head around the whole thing. And you know what? I really liked At World's End, but I will go on record as saying that I still love Dead Man's Chest and all y'all haters can step. It's just so much fun, and while AWE has the trippiness and the wrenchingness and the apocalyptic doom going for it, I'd probably watch DMC if I needed cheering up (or Curse of the Black Pearl, for that matter). It's kind of the way that I'd rather watch Fellowship of the Ring than Return of the King if I only have time for one. Of course, I'd probably end up watching all three in both cases, but there you go.
Note: I saw each of the previous two movies exactly three times in the theater. So I'm probably going to see AWE again, if only because I'd hate not to do a threepeat (a threepeat threepeat)--and my mother still hasn't seen it, after all.
More observations, including a few I made already at Snarkfest:
>> As folks over there have pointed out, the sword that Norrington is given is, of course, the sword that Will made for him, which I did catch; and of course, it's also the one that Davy Jones picks up, saying "Nice sword," but I didn't follow it to the logical conclusion, which is that he later kills Will with it.
>> I heard Gibbs say "Sweet blessed Westley!" the first time I saw it, but it was the second viewing that convinced me it really was a Princess Bride reference. (Maybe he said "westerly." I don't know. However: Dread Pirate Legolas. Coincidence? I think not.)
>> If you look behind Davy Jones in the bucket scene, you will see three other buckets lined up behind him, because he had to use them to get to that part of the beach at all--and the distance between them even suggests that big monster stride of his. It's the little touches that mean so much.
(I can has bucket?)
>> I should clarify that what I meant by "Will! Get a bucket!" was that at least he could visit more frequently than every ten years; of course he's still got the soul-ferrying to do.
>> Davy Jones having a crab arm and leg suddenly made a lot more sense. However, I cannot say if, conversely, Tia Dalma always having a mouthful of ink is therefore also explained.
>> The Calypso thing still isn't as resolved as I would like, but I finally realized that Davy Jones falls into the very center of the vortex, like he and Calypso are now one, which at least is something. Also, it's kind of... Freudian. Although I guess you could argue that sometimes a giant female opening is just a giant female opening.
>> People complained about the Multiple Jacks continuing on through the movie, but I realized that he never has them unless he's under Davy Jones' power--in the Locker, and they're still in the Locker when he starts rocking the ship, and he's in the Dutchman's brig when the multiples show up again.
>> I think the place to clue people in on the "loved one meets you and you're free" thing would have been in the Tia Dalma/Davy Jones scene, because it would explain the seriousness of her betrayal a lot better, but then I realized that if they'd dropped that in there, Will having to become the new captain wouldn't have been as horrifying. It's like they had to sacrifice information for suspense, I guess.
>> The thing about the "Will is actually freed" point that wasn't in the movie is that it at least allows one thing: if you prefer the sadder ending, you can ignore the out-of-movie explanation and it's still yours. If knowing that the writers explain it that way, on the other hand, unbreaks your heart (cough) and improves the movie for you, well, you can have that version.
>> When Will comes back after the credits, his shirt is now white instead of red. Clearly, we should have understood that he was released at that point. Clearly.
>> I keep trying to figure out what Beckett's deal is, and all I can think is that he doesn't realize that Will is now the captain (and would obviously blow him to bits); he thinks that Jones still is (I didn't see anyone with a telescope who could have seen the change-out from that distance). So he thinks that Jones has betrayed him ("It's just... good business"), and he's finally on the losing end of all the bargains and betrayals. And maybe the concept of that just blows his tiny little mind. Maybe he so gets off on domination and superiority and power that it just really never occurred to him that defeat was possible; he was completely unprepared for it, and as a result, shut down. Maybe he has a Napoleon complex. I don't know.
>> Also, I saw some tidbit of a review that called the movie "soulless and corporate" or something like that, which kind of boggles me, because it seems to me like they made a lot of dark, potentially unpopular choices. People who weren't invested didn't have the story logic served up to them on a platter (no matter how you feel about that); Jack was involved in some really bizarre, surreal scenes; there was a lot of violence (and it wasn't happy summer blockbuster violence, it was hanged kids and women shot in the head and prominent characters dying tragically); they pushed the PG-13 line with the sexual innuendo and the leg-licking--I don't know, I think you could say that the movie is convoluted or overstuffed or self-indulgent, but "corporate" is about the last word I'd use to describe it. It wasn't a safe, bland, manufactured thing, and I think that this one potentially making less money is a testament to that. Which is a little like complaining that Disney will only make billions instead of trillions, but there you go.
>> Speaking of which: Box Office Mojo: "[Disney's Chuck] Viane noted that At World's End's grade from CinemaScore, which polls opening night moviegoers, was an "A-," about the same as Dead Man's Chest." So far it seems to be making less money than POTC2, but it's a lot darker and, more importantly, friggin'-ass long, so what're you gonna do.
>> bluebren (post): "The only other awesome thing that is not on this list was Ragetti being all 'BARBOSSA YOU ARE SUCH A TERRIBLE LOVER' and stammering in Tia Dalma's ear and it was so sweeeeeeeet. You'll notice one of the crabs she turned into ended up in his pants. "
>> reannaremick (post): I Freed Calypso From Her Human Form And All I Got Was A Nasty Case of Crabs.
>> ipomoea (post): "I'd seen references to the writers' comments on the curse in other LJs so out of curiosity I went and dug up their actual commentary. I'm just going to link to the thread, the Ted & Terry posts are easy to spot. They definitely confirm that the green flash at the end meant the curse was broken, which was what I was hoping was implied there."
>> lauramcvey (post): More confirmation.
>> laughingacademy with more support for the writers' explanation: "The 'Will Goes Ashore for Good If Elizabeth Is Faithful' happy ending was doubtlessly inspired by Richard Wagner’s opera based on the legend of the Flying Dutchman, in which the captain is allowed ashore once every seven years and will be redeemed if he can find a wife who will be true."
And then something DMC-related I noticed reading the main Flying Dutchman entry: "Versions of the story are numerous in nautical folklore and are related to earlier medieval legends such as that of Captain Falkenburg who was cursed to ply the North sea until Judgment Day, playing at dice with the Devil for his own soul."
>> And finally, quizzicalsphinx (post): "It's a sad day when Keith-bloody-Richards has to step in to keep other people from ripping apart a rented room."