Something beautiful, something glorious, something absolutely fabulous happened while I was viewing "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End": I stopped caring.
I'm hard-pressed to pinpoint the moment when I stopped caring. Maybe it was when Chow Yun-Fat appeared and started sounding like Jo Jitsu from the old "Dick Tracy" cartoons. (Leave it to a Jerry Bruckheimer movie to make the eternally cool Hong Kong action star look like a dork.)
Perhaps it was when one character ballooned into a behemoth 50-foot sea goddess. Or maybe it was when Johnny Depp, after arguing with a ship full of hallucinatory Capt. Jack Sparrows, announced that he had stopped caring as well.
"Gentleman, I wash my hands of this weirdness," he said. And this was even before rocks started turning into crabs, a wedding ceremony was performed in the middle of a fight sequence, and Keith Richards came out of nowhere as Sparrow's old man, wearing a fake nose and prosthetic skin that's more ghastly than his own.
I'm not even going to attempt to explain the plot of the third and (can we please say?) final installment in the swashbuckling action-adventure series, since it has already left critics smarter than me scratching their heads.
With the movie's 168-minute length (word to the wise: bring a sack lunch -- trust me, you're gonna get hungry halfway through), you'll find things go a lot smoother when you don't invest a single ounce of thought in this monster.
It seems like, after two movies, producer Bruckheimer, director Gore Verbinski and screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio have realized that they've been making some incomprehensible summer blockbusters. And this one is no different.
The movie itself feels like a celebration of cinematic incoherence. "End" practically orders you to put your brain under the seat and just enjoy, since deciphering the plot could very well give you an aneurysm.
Here's what essentially needs to be known: Will Turner (Orlando Bloom, continuing his reign as the world's most obtuse action hero) and Elizabeth Swann (a seething yet frail-looking Keira Knightley) team up with Capt. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush, hammy and loving it!) to bring Sparrow back from the Land of the Dead.
But wait a minute! Didn't Sparrow off Barbossa in the first movie?
Yeah, but he's brought back from the dead. Of course, that makes no sense, but you'll find that suspending your disbelief will be a prerequisite for viewing this movie.
With its aforementioned Swiss-cheese story, a cast of characters written as nothing more than double-crossing jerks, and enough CGIed-to-heck effects to distract you from those things, "End" reaches ridiculously farcical heights in no time flat.
You're better off taking a cue from Depp, who once again staggers through this thing and reminds you why you paid hard-earned money to watch this near-three-hour disaster in the first place. Although Depp has publicly reiterated that this is all just some silly summer fun that his and other kids can watch, you suspect he knows he's better than all of this nonsense.
And that comes across when he plays Sparrow with the same anarchic, hedonistic and highly entertaining indifference you'd get from a drunk during Mardi Gras. His performance almost becomes a meta-commentary on the multimillion-dollar absurdity you're watching.
When he tells another character the best way to get through this ordeal is by closing your eyes and pretending it's all a dream, it's as if he's giving the audience advice.
And indeed, the audience will be there.
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" may be an expensive, clamorous mess, but it's an expensive, clamorous mess that'll ultimately make one essential sound: "Ka-Ching!"
Staff writer Craig D. Lindsey can be reached at 829-4760, email@example.com or blogs.newsobserver.com/ unclecrizzle.