IS A MOVIE better the third time around? Not for Spider-Man 3 and Shrek the Third.

But yes, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End works as a third sequel.

The Spider-Man series has generally been an excellent take on the character created by Stan Lee, transcending the stereotypical comic-book movie. The cast, led by Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker and Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson, have effectively pulled things off acting-wise. The first movie generated raves among the exacting comic-book fans and the second even fared better. The third, however, misses the mark.

What makes Spider-Man 3 disappointing is that it tries to squeeze in too many story lines, not to mention too many characters, all at once, which results in a very short time for character development.

Venom, the most anticipated character in this film, received way too little a screen time. It is also not clear whether Sandman is a good or a bad guy, and how Spider-Man deals with him in the end is rather absurd. The story consumes more precious time showing Parker crying, walking around, and battling the “alien symbiote” that almost takes the better hold of him.

On the brighter side, the computer-generated effects are masterfully done and the fight scenes are well choreographed. Setting aside the generic theme of the good winning over evil, it is still one of those films fans can not afford to let slide because, well, it is Spider-Man.

“Shrekervescent” no more

When Shrek was first introduced in 2001, it took the whole world by storm. This animated comedy film, which lured the hearts of moviegoers from toddlers to octogenarians, was not the average fairy tale flick; in fact, it was by no means average. Its success was followed by the equally good sequel released in 2004. The film’s jab on easily identifiable pop culture once again captured the audience regardless of the age bracket.

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But like Spider-Man, it is hard to define the third installment aside from being a sheer mediocrity.

Shrek the Third lacks the surprise, the originality, and the magic of its predecessors. It seems like the writers have run out of comical inspiration, leaving spectators with a tacky farrago of half-baked jokes. Aside from the hilarious parody of a third-rate dinner theater in the first scene, a few hearty laughs trailed on.

Focusing mainly on Shrek’s fear and joy of being a father and finding an heir to the throne of Far-Far-Away Kingdom, the plot is not exciting. There are also too many characters to love?a madhouse of minor characters and cameos that somehow drowns the story and makes the movie dragging.

Behind these overstatements, Shrek the Third is still appealing, especially to younger audiences. Clever scenes abound and no death scene could ever be as hilarious as the one on this film. However, the film’s impeccable animation seems to be the only thing that basically keeps the moviegoers glued to the screen.

Pirating the record

At a time when comic book films and sequels dominate the box office, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a breath of fresh air. The second Pirates film, Dead Man’s Chest, sustained the fascination; and the third and final Pirates installment of the movie titled At World’s End perfectly caps the trilogy.

The last film, At World’s End, is massively entertaining and thrilling from start to end. With a $300 million budget, the film is visually arresting with extravagant costumes and ambitious locations, which include the Caribbean Sea itself.

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The unforgettable cast renders superb acting, and the script is indubitably witty. There is nothing not to love about Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, but Geoffrey Rush, back as Captain Barbossa, stands out.

The musical score by Hans Zimmer is fantastic, almost sublime, and it puts viewers so much into the movie, especially during the huge battle scene. The mishmash of action, adventure, comedy, and fantasy makes Pirates a well-rounded movie, even though its ending is non-Disney-like with the death of some important characters.

The fate of these three movies readily shows the unpredictability of sequels in the box-office and in the eyes of the critics. Although novel ideas and sheer inspiration do not guarantee a winner, it will at least prevent a film from being reduced to flotsam and jetsam in the world of movies. Juanito Alipio A. de la Rosa

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