I Wrote a Piece of Fan Fiction for 10 Years and Here’s What Happened…

Fan fiction gets a bad rap, and that’s mostly because of some of the more…strange products that end up on the internet. While we often see cringeworthy, oftentimes hilarious outcomes that freak out celebrities like James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, or even have entire Twitter accounts devoted to some of the more outlandish musings (and let’s not forget “My Immortal”), “fan fiction” is generally used as a derogative term that denotes something exceedingly derivative or poorly written. Even I thought ill of fan fiction at first.


This was before I published some.

…and no surprise, it’s Pirates of the Caribbean related.


Let’s start at the beginning:

I was twelve years old, visiting the Disneyland Resort. This was in the months immediately preceding the release of Pirates 3, which everyone thought at the time would be the final installment of the franchise (oh how wrong they were). I liked the movies quite a bit, and was enchanted by the new additions to the park including Jack Sparrow and Barbossa animatronics inside the Pirates attraction, as well as the complete revamp of Tom Sawyer Island to Pirate’s Lair.

And you can bet that I will absolutely be recreating this photo when the island reopens, given that the bone cage is still there.

Inside the Pirate-themed Pieces of Eight store in New Orleans Square, I bought a book called, Bring Me That Horizon, a compendium of cast and crew bios, on set and behind-the-scenes details, and exclusive set photos from unit publicist Michael Singer. It covered the entire trilogy, and as I had been interested in film from a young age, I was proud to have bought the book with my own money that I had earned from chores.

I started rifling through the book as soon as it was mine. I can clearly remember sitting at a waterside table at the Hungry Bear restaurant with it as I waited for my parents to bring back lunch. It was also at this table that I started thinking about a story. I wanted to write about a new character who was always a part of the Pirates stories, but was never seen, and I wanted her connected to my two favorite characters from the movies, Jack Sparrow and Tia Dalma.

The summer began with me seeing the third Pirates movie (which quickly became my favorite), getting a cat I named Calypso (because I had no self-control), and then spending the remainder of the season writing my story. I wrote on pieces of brightly colored construction paper and stuck them in all possible pages of the Singer book and carried it with me everywhere I went. So loved is that book, there are pages currently falling out of it.

Myself and said hero, Michael Singer, along with a satchel gifted to him by Mr. Depp himself.

I named my original character Rose Hexfury, a name randomly generated for my player from the short-lived World of Warcraft-esque virtual game Pirates of the Caribbean Online. She was to be Jack’s half-sister and Tia Dalma would be her mentor. I wanted her to be a gypsy from France, interact with all of the characters in the franchise, and somehow have mystical powers by the end.

…sounds pretty lame, doesn’t it? I was twelve. Shut up.

Well, I agreed with you. Life moved on, and within a year, I was over it. My love for the Pirates movies continued to grow, but I felt silly writing this story, which I had devised into filling FIVE books (an ambitious little one, I was!). I wasn’t Ted Elliot or Terry Rossio, I was a preteen from Nevada without any writing experience whatsoever. What was the point of writing this story? Anyone who would ever read it would find it ridiculous, I thought. So I stopped. I put it down and intended to never return, and I never told anyone what I had been working so hard on that summer.

Aforementioned well-loved book. Don’t judge it by its cover–it’s most definitely falling apart on the inside.

Word about a fourth film began years later, and at the age of fifteen, I saw the finished product of On Stranger Tides. Even though it had been years since I had written a word of Rose Hexfury’s story, I found myself worried that the movie would interfere with the canon of what I had planned. I remember feeling relieved that it hadn’t, and I even started thinking about how I could add Penelope Cruz’s character Angelica to my story. This newfound interest in picking it up again failed, however, as now I was midway through high school and really considered it childish.

I was just about to graduate from my senior year in high school when I found myself on the then still-untitled Pirates of the Caribbean 5 IMDb page. I nearly fell to the ground when my eyes drifted to the rumored cast list, which included Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush (obviously), as well as Orlando Bloom as Will Turner and GASP!…JACK DAVENPORT AS NORRINGTON! “But how?” I thought. “Norrington (who by that point had grown to become another favorite character of mine) died in Pirates 3!”

In considering ways in which this could be possible, I felt once again the familiar stir of my story begin to resurface. Even though the iteration of the script featuring Norrington’s return to the story would ultimately be rejected, I started trying to find a way to bring him into mine.

That’s when I realized that Rose Hexfury’s voice was still inside me, and somewhere deep down, a twelve-year-old version of myself refused to shut up until I finished the story. So, that summer after I graduated, I got to work, vowing to finish it once and for all. Would I publish it? Never. Would I tell anyone? DEFINITELY not. I still found the whole thing rather embarrassing. I just wanted it done so that I could print out the final product, stick it in a drawer somewhere and forget about it completely.

Then I came to college, and I began to meet people just as impassioned by film and television as I was. I met writers, nerds, fans, and fellow minds who were incredibly witty and creative. Many of these friends had dabbled in fan fiction, and one of them convinced me to put my work online via fanfiction.net at the start of 2015.

I will say, were it not for the Dead Men Tell No Tales release date tomorrow, I would have had no impetus to finish the story. But I can clearly see that the film’s plot threatens to completely destroy the ending of my now ten-year-old story. So with a hard deadline of May 26, 2017, I have finally completed Rose Hexfury’s journey, and my, how far it’s come. I can’t believe a decade-long project has finally come to a close.

This process has been absolutely invaluable to me, and I would like to tell you why:
  • The discovery that I can write! Not only that, but I like it. It’s been so interesting to go back through the old pieces of construction paper and map how my vocabulary and syntax has grown far more dynamic in the passing years. I now feel so much more certain of my abilities.
  • Learning to write in another’s voice. I tell you what, it’s surprisingly hard. It’s been so much fun but also such a challenge to visualize the performers of these established characters saying the words that I am penning. I give credit where credit is due to fan fiction writers who can do this well. It’s no easy feat.
  • Learning to keep true to another canon. My story attempts to be 100% canonically correct to ten full hours of a movie franchise, something I put down in 2007 and have stood by throughout the process. This has also proved challenging. I’ve had to know what I’m talking about, and still haven’t totally succeeded. After the storm passes, I will launch into edits to fix a few missteps, rogue typos, and inconsistencies, as I really want the story as airtight as possible.
  • Feedback. I am usually scared to death of criticism, but feedback from users of fanfiction.net has been absolutely key to my work and has helped me grow significantly. I now better know what an audience responds to, as well as times when I’m being far too vague or not giving a character enough attention.
  • The people. Branching off of this thought, I have learned to be far more open-minded about this facet of the internet. Fan fiction isn’t embarrassing. It’s not worthless or lesser, as I originally thought. People from all over the world contribute, and how amazing is it that that many people are so inspired by someone else’s work to write a continuation or a spinoff or a crossover with some other work? Yes, it most definitely can get weird, but for the most part, these sites are an epicenter of creativity and passion, and I think that deserves to be supported and treasured.
My fic’s cover image. Phone filters these days…

My story is based on the work of Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie, Jay Wolpert, and Jeff Nathanson, the screenwriters who built such a wonderful world for me to play with, as well as everyone involved in the creative teams of the films and the Imagineers who designed the original 1967 Disneyland attraction. I further was inspired by the work of Robb Kidd, who did an amazing job with his Jack Sparrow and Brethren Court series, which I have also looped into my story several times.

I thank my friend for forcing me to put my work online for people to read, and the handful of people who ever knew it existed in the first place and the readers on fanfiction.net.

Ten years and 196,835 words later, I am finally embracing my work. I’m not ashamed anymore. In fact, I’m proud and relieved that it’s over. If you would like to read what I’ve done, below is the link. While you’re there, I encourage you to poke around the site find stories from your own favorite movies, books, television shows, games, and more. There’s so much out there, much of it very good.


All photos by author. Gifs from giphy.

Reading Too Much Into Trailers #3: Pirates of the Caribbean; Dead Men Tell No Tales

Post originally appeared on Chapman Club 55’s Blog.

Hello. My name is Jessica Johnson. And within maybe an hour, MAYBE an hour of meeting me, you’ll always discover that I am a psychopath: my nerdom for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, franchise, even nautical history is…a lot. A lot to even handle, sometimes. It’s a wonder I still have friends, honestly. 

Well, this is a big year for Pirates fans…the few of us who remain. The fifth installment of the franchise that was definitely supposed to end in 2007…then again in 2011…and now maybe 2017 (we’ll see? I guess?) will grace our lives on May 26th of this year. Minutes ago, the first full length trailer was dropped during the Super Bowl. This production has been shrouded in mystery from the start, so I’m going to go ahead and break down what is probably going to go down with the plot, and what direction I need this film to go. DO NOT DENY ME THIS, DISNEY. 

  • The Cast:

What Disney Says: In early 2014, POTC 5‘s IMDb page postulated the return of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa, Kevin McNally as Joshamee Gibbs, Orlando Bloom as Will Turner, and Martin Klebba as Marty. These returns were all confirmed at the 2015 D23 Expo. However, three more cast members were on the rumored list, but disappeared only a few months later: Mackenzie Crook as Ragetti, Lee Arenberg as Pintel, and my personal favorite (because I’m a sucker for a good villain-turned-misunderstood-good guy) Jack Davenport as James Norrington. The page’s Trivia even had a rumored plot line which made my heart so happy: 

“This will be the first Pirates of the Caribbean film to have Johnny Depp (Jack Sparrow), Geoffrey Rush (Captain Barbossa), & Jack Davenport (James Norrington) teaming up together.”

That fact is now long gone off the page, but not before I preserved it because how flipping cool would that be!? Those three despised each other! And even though Norrington died at the end of POTC 3; At World’s End, he died at sea, which allowed the caveat that perhaps his soul joined the crew of The Flying Dutchman. Just imagine him serving under Will Turner’s command! Talk about conflict!

Alas, these rumors of were dispelled with one fell Tweet from Lee Arenberg- he and Mackenzie would definitely not be coming back: 

Lee Arenberg Not Returning

However, new characters joined the scene. Confirmed in the cast was Javier Bardem as our new villain, Captain Salazar, Brenton Thwaites playing a character simply known as “Henry,” and Kaya Scodelario playing a young scientist named Carina Smyth

What I Say: Keira Knightley, who played the damsel-turned-Pirate King Elizabeth Swann, ruled out ever returning to the franchise back in 2008. HOWEVER…

That’s right! Knightley was seen shooting very secret scenes in a sound stage in London! The original gang (almost) is most-assuredly all back! 

  • The Plot:

What Disney Says: Here’s the official plot synopsis released by Disney

“Johnny Depp returns to the big screen as the iconic, swashbuckling anti-hero Jack Sparrow in the all-new Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. The rip-roaring adventure finds down-on-his-luck Captain Jack feeling the winds of ill-fortune blowing strongly his way when deadly ghost sailors, led by the terrifying Captain Salazer (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil’s Triangle bent on killing every pirate at sea – notably Jack. Jack’s only hope of survival lies in the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it he must forge an uneasy alliance with Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a brilliant and beautiful astronomer, and Henry (Brenton Thwaites), a headstrong young sailor in the Royal Navy. At the helm of the Dying Gull, his pitifull small and shabby ship, Captain Jack seeks not only to reverse his recent spate of ill fortune, but to save his very life from the most formidable and malicious foe he has never faced.”

…nuh uh. There’s more. 

What I Say: Well, there’s a few things to consider here, fam. 

New cast member Brenton Thwaites began the Rumor Train with a simple slip of the tongue: 

“It’s about a young man who wants to reconnect with his father, Davy Jones. There’s a curse that prevents him from doing that. I think it’s about how he goes around that and tries to fix it and he has to save his dad. I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be a lot of fun!”

HA!! You know who Davy Jones is now, Brenton? WILL TURNER. Plus the odd way that his character only has a first name…yeah. He’s most definitely Will and Elizabeth’s son. 

Now let’s take a look at the trailer that just dropped this afternoon: 

…now besides screaming at the top of my lungs, there’s a few things I noticed and want to point out to inform what is my plot synopsis. 

One…oh no.

Poor Will! Get some ointment for that, dude!

Will Turner has barnacles on his face, and that’s not good at all. POTC 3 clearly lined out the conditions of Calypso’s curse upon the original Davy Jones and the crew of The Flying Dutchman: If you don’t do the job (ferrying souls lost at sea to the other side), you get all tentacly. So this means that Will stopped doing his duty and is getting punished for it. Orrrrrr….there could be another reason Orlando’s beautiful face has been compromised. Here it is, MY prediction for how this will all go down. 

My Plot Prediction: 

Captain Salazar has escaped from the Devil’s Triangle to wreak havoc upon pirate-kind. This includes the three most powerful pirates on the seas: Captain Hector Barbossa, Captain Will Turner, and most of all, Captain Jack Sparrow. Henry Turner, son of Will and Pirate King Elizabeth Swann, has grown up seeing his father only once every ten years and is tired of it. Just like his father before him, he bravely ventures off to find a means by which he can free his father from his cursed state; a mystical artifact known to be the Trident of Poseidon. Astronomer Carina Smyth seeks the trident for her own means, and Jack seeks it in order to free The Black Pearl from its constricting bottle. This common goal brings these three together. Meanwhile, Salazar reaches Barbossa (…I have a bad feeling about his fate, I’m sorry to say…Sorry, Barbossa fans.) and Will. Seeing as Will is immortal, the only thing Salazar can do is make him and his crew gradually decompose back into barnacles and sea creatures. The clock is ticking for our heroes…THEN NORRINGTON SAVES THE DAY! 

okay, I may have projected my own dreams there at the end, but that’s overall what I think is going to happen, plus an amazing Elizabeth Swann reappearance! Meanwhile, we all must wait for what will hopefully make a great (and final) installment of this billion-dollar franchise! It’s killing me slowly, but hey, all good things to those who wait, I suppose!

For an awesome, nerdy, fun blog related to all things Disney, please visit www.chapmanclub55.com for more reading from some talented Chapman students!

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, Don’t Shatter All My Dreams!

UPDATE: September 8th, 2015: A little late I know, but some information in this post has since changed. I was fortunate enough to be amongst 8,000 Disney fans at the 2015 D23 Expo from August 14-16 at the Anaheim Convention Center. I stayed up all night and waited in line in fervid anticipation for any POTC5 news that came our way at the Walt Disney Studios Live Action panel first, then onto the Internet in a matter of mere minutes.

So, yes, I got to see Johnny Depp, in full Jack Sparrow regalia, in person. Yes, I made eye contact with him, and yes, I can officially die happy now. He also threw grapes at us, but that’s beside the point:

Orlando Bloom HAS been confirmed for his return in Pirates of the Caribbean; Dead Men Tell No Tales. I congratulate Disney on keeping Mr. Bloom’s return to the series completely secret, waiting to reveal his presence at the D23 Expo.

Now back to our originally scheduled programming!

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: AUGUST 29th, 2015: Dear Disney Powers that Be: HEAR THE WORDS OF A RATIONAL (albeit terrified) FAN.

Johnny Depp with Pirates of the Caribbean; Dead Men Tell No Tales directors Sandberg and Ronning
Johnny Depp with Pirates of the Caribbean; Dead Men Tell No Tales directors Sandberg and Ronning

It all started in 2003 when you released the first installment of what would become one of the most successful franchises of all time. You took an obscure Disneyland attraction and made it a household name. Somehow, you discovered the perfect recipe: you start with a Bruckheimer and a well placed foundation by Elliot and Rossio, add a dash of Gore Verbinski, add several cups of Depp, Bloom, Knightley, Rush, McNally, Davenport and more, and finish it off by decorations by Zimmer, Rose, and Wolzski, plus a couple thousand more extras and crew members, and you have an unprecedented success for a total of three films.

Then, the system was broken. While both the second and third installments began to drift with critics, they both remain in the list of the top highest grossing films of all time. You could have left well enough alone. That’s when the decision came about to make a fourth film. Verbinski was out. Knightley was out, and therefore Bloom was ousted as well. Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio wrote a script with added restrictions: the idea was to have this film mirror the first film in simplicity and spirit, but with added simplicity came killing of beloved members of the original Pearl crew. Rob Marshall came in to direct the film, and though doing a commendable job, the film itself was devoid of the magic and adventure of the first three, and was riddled with plot holes. Though still earning over $1 billion worldwide, it was clear that the Pirates love was declining rapidly.

When the idea for a fifth film was first tossed around, many rumors surrounded the casting. Confirmed for return was Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow, Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa, and Kevin McNally as Gibbs. On the contrary, Keira Knightly confirmed that she would NOT be returning as Elizabeth Swann. Rumored was Christoph Waltz as the story’s villain, known on IMDB.com as simply, “Captain Brand,” as well as Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook, and Martin Klebba, all members of the original Pearl crew who were supposedly killed offscreen in between the events of the third and fourth films. Also rumored were (my personal favorite) Jack Davenport as Norrington and most notably Orlando Bloom as Will Turner. The return of deceased characters such as The Pearl crew and Norrington could be attributed to the fact that they all died at sea, and therefore could have had their souls saved by Will Turner, the new captain of The Flying Dutchman. 

Then things started to become set in stone as Orlando Bloom heavily advocated for his hopes to return to the Pirates franchise, Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg were hired to follow in the directing footsteps of Gore Verbinski and Rob Marshall, and Kara Scodelario and Brenton Thwaites were cast. A bit more concerning news surfaced that Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, who had penned the previous four films had been replaced by Jeff Nathanson, the screenwriter of The Terminal, Catch Me If You Can, and Speed 2. The government of Australia offered the production $19 million in tax incentives to film in Queensland, Australia, and Jerry Bruckheimer promised fans a more “back to basics” pirate film. Christoph Waltz backed out of the project due to scheduling issues, and was replaced by Javier Bardem as a character known as “Captain Salazar.”

Suddenly, Pirates fans’ worlds were thrown into turmoil as a rapid-fire surge of news that contradicted prior information began to surface. First, Jack Davenport, Mackenzie Crook, and Lee Arenberg were taken off the cast list altogether, rumored or otherwise. Arenberg even expressed his disappointment via Twitter:

Lee Arenberg Not Returning

Additionally, Brenton Thwaites, when questioned upon his upcoming role in the film with The Mirror, let a major plot point slip.

“It’s about a young man who wants to reconnect with his father, Davy Jones. There’s a curse that prevents him from doing that. I think it’s about how he goes around that and tries to fix it and he has to save his dad. I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be a lot of fun!”

Sir, I’m not sure you realize who Davy Jones is. HE’S WILL TURNER NOW. Thwaites unknowingly confirmed Will Turner’s presence in the storyline. But even more concerning is the news that as of July 8, 2015, production has officially wrapped on the fifth film, despite the fact that A) Orlando Bloom has not been anywhere near Australia since production began at the start of the year and B) Dead Men Tell No Tales‘s release date is TWO YEARS AWAY.

So here is this earnest fan’s plea to the Walt Disney Company, Jerry Bruckheimer, and the sea goddess Calypso herself: MAKE PIRATES 5 RIGHT. It isn’t too late! You have two whole years to figure this out! Bring Bloom back, bring Davenport back, bring everybody who wants to come back BACK. Sure, I’m just a girl who thinks far too much about the entertainment industry for any healthy person, but I can fly out to London and personally try to convince Ms. Knightly for at least a ten second cameo! While I’m at it, I’ll try to get Penelope Cruz as Angelica back as well! Why she isn’t in the film at all while her husband is playing the villain is beyond me, but I digress!

I speak for the Pirates fan-base as a whole when I state what we are looking for from this last film:

1) That is IS the last film. No more, please! Put a nice little bow on it and we’ll love and appreciate all five for what they are!


2) That, at the very least, Orlando Bloom comes back as Will Turner. MAKE HIS DREAMS COME TRUE. MAKE OUR DREAMS COME TRUE.


3) An epic, large scale and fresh-feeling climatic battle ensues, be it via sword, cannon, or pistol. We want drama, flair, and action. Bring it on!


4) UNDER NO MEANS ARE YOU TO TRY TO REPLICATE A WILL/ELIZABETH LOVE STORY WITH MS. SCODELARIO AND MR. THWAITES. You tried that in On Stranger Tides with the mermaid and the missionary, and look how well that worked out for you! **note to self: Write the pilot for a sitcom entitled “The Mermaid and the Missionary.” That’s comedy GOLD right there!**


5) Make it nostalgic as hell! It will have been fourteen years since the first film was released back in 2003 when Dead Men Tell No Tales premieres. Most of your fan-base and audience grew up with these movies, so make it a testament to our youth! Cheesy is good (but don’t make cheesy dialogue. That is just unforgivable.)!


That’s all I ask, Disney. You are SO dedicated to your ever-growing list of live action reboots of your animated classics, so spend the extra time you have to make this film a classic finale to a record-breaking franchise.

No no. No need to thank or repay me. Hey listen: If I’ve influenced your filmmaking in any way, you don’t even need to put me in the end credits. But you know…if you could get this guy a cameo and satisfy my nerd heart….


…I would be willing to call it even!

You’ll Never Believe What My Favorite Movie Is.

Come one, come all! I am about to defend a film that, universally, NOBODY likes! Not only do I like this film, but it is also coincidentally my favorite movie. Ever. Like, this is the feature that I would take with me on that desert island. Forever. And ever. So, without further ado:

Pirates of the Caribbean….3. At World’s End.

I can hear you assembling your pitchforks and torches as I type this, but let me explain, and I might just convince you that this movie could actually be worthy of the title, “Favorite Movie.”

Now, when you think of a great film, what comes to mind? Something that makes you happy to watch? Does that mean a comedy? Not always. Is it something that makes you think? Something with a statement or a moral? Simply a fun ride? Something that tugs at the heart strings? Or is it a movie that seems as if it was made only for you? Something that appeals to your every whim, every like, and every expectation? Something that when you sit in a room with 200 strangers watching it, you feel like you alone have entered body and soul into that two-dimensional world for two hours?

That’s the magic of cinema. It’s all so subjective, that it is very easy to get lost in a film you personally find entertains you the most. For most people, these favorites are limited to what everyone has historically found worthy of that “best film” title— The Godfather, Singin’ in the Rain, The Artist. Which, don’t get me wrong, these films are on my top ten list as well. I am a scholar of the film industry and don’t wish to peg myself as someone who doesn’t appreciate truly good cinema, but rare is it that a personal favorite film is a summer blockbuster.
A summer blockbuster film in a series.
A summer blockbuster film in a series about a Disney ride.
A summer blockbuster film in a series about a Disney ride about pirates.
…A summer blockbuster film in a series about a Disney ride about pirates in which the film in question is argued as being the weakest of the series.

Pirates of the Caribbean; At World’s End, which I shall henceforth refer to as POTC 3, appeals to me so much because it truly has everything in it. The film was released in 2007, and followed the release of POTC 2, Dead Man’s Chest, which is commonly hailed as the “Two Towers” of the original Pirate Trilogy as it served only as the creamy center between the first and third films. POTC 3 cost over $300 million dollars to make, and when adjusted for inflation, it is the most expensive movie EVER made. Worldwide, it did well, almost passing the $1 billion mark. However, that makes it (as of August 2014) #23 on the highest grossing films worldwide list, and a staggering #40 on the highest grossing films in the U.S. Yikes! That’s only significant because POTC 2 did so incredibly well. Even though it has been surpassed by films like Avatar and Titanic (because damn James Cameron rereleased the stupid thing, cheater!!) and The Hunger Games, POTC 2 was at one point the highest grossing film of all time.

Why was this? Because everyone loved the first film, and word got out about the intended series. Literally, there is nobody who did not like SOMETHING from the first movie! It was the first film to be based off an original theme park attraction, which was a completely new and fresh concept. It was historical, it was full of action, it had replicated scenes from the ride that everyone knew and loved, and it was a good story that was well made by a powerful group of writers, producers, musicians, directors, costumers, cinematographers, and, of course, actors. It made Jack Sparrow a household name, and young kids wonder why he wasn’t appearing in their history books. The confusion on why Jack Sparrow wasn’t in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at the Disney Parks prompted Imagineers to do something unheard of— changing Walt’s original design! Now, the film and the ride it was based off of are constantly being renovated to keep up to date with the stories as they progress!

Now, some of the audience dropped off from POTC 2 to 3 because of the added complexities that came along with the new storyline of the series’s new villain, Davy Jones. Writers Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, who are absolute GENIUSES of plot complexities, made the storyline a lot more intricate the second and third time around. Now, instead of the POTC series being about a damsel who is caught between true love and societal expectations and her adventures with pirates, now every character had his or her own motivation, which often times got very confusing. By the third film, we had anywhere from two to five villains (Norrington, Beckett, Barbossa, Sao Fang, and of course, Davy Jones), when we really only had one in the first film in the form of Captain Barbossa, and MAYBE Norrington.

But I fell in love with the third film because truly, it wraps every single hanging plot point beautifully. The lovebirds Elizabeth and Will get their ending, however happily tragic, Norrington meets his match, Beckett and Jones get their just desserts, and Barbossa gets what he’s always wanted. The only fate left in question is Jack Sparrow’s, but as he is the main character, you assume that the journey he is taking will continue as long as time itself. Although the protagonist, Jack is a static character in that through and through, he is quite simply, THE pirate. He will do what he wants when he wants it, and will leave everyone else in the dust wondering what in the world just happened.

The climax of the picture, which takes place in a gigantic maelstrom, is well choreographed and paced, leaving viewers on the edge of their seats. The added setting of Singapore is unique and is a relatively unexplored part of the cinematic universe. The music is top-notch, with Hans Zimmer’s beautifully composed score reflecting the adventure of the plot, infused with some Asian-based instruments.

The only thing that is constantly criticized about the film is the most important elements—story and length. The film is nearly three hours long, and you are truly exhausted by the end of it. I argue that the length is necessary, but only because Elliot and Rossio made the second film with so many added plot points that they needed to wrap up. The story gets very confusing to someone who isn’t on board with the entire plot and can’t suspend their disbelief. If you blink, you will miss an important plot point. This is not an ideal situation for a summer film, which are generally designed to appeal to mass audiences, and mass audiences are usually not die-hard pirate fans like I was (am). Elliot and Rossio tried to allow some mindless scenes for relief that the audience could stop trying to comprehend the thick story, which typically involved Jack Sparrow hallucinating. Their attempts at relief backfired hoever, as these scenes, when juxtaposed with the high action of the rest of the picture, seem extraneous and unnecessary. I however am not bothered by this as much as some, because I found Depp’s antics truly something to admire.

Which brings me to what endears me the most to this film— the acting. If you want to see Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightly, Geoffrey Rush, Jack Davenport, Stellan Skarsgard, Bill Nighy, Naomi Harris, and Tom Hollander pull out some truly fine acting, give this film another chance. This is surprising, as according to Depp, none of the actors understood the story themselves. They simply were proceeding scene by scene, unsure of how each piece fit together. However, they all work so well as an ensemble and as individuals, which is truly indicative of not only their talent, but also their appreciation for each other. The movie series was such a large scale project that they at times didn’t even know would appeal to an audience at all, and through these many strifes, you can clearly see how close the actors grew to each other in the process. When an original character dies, it seems as though the reactions of the other characters on screen are genuine. In their final shots, as at this time no one knew if there would be more films to follow, each actor seems to have sadness reflected in their eyes, as though they know that this is the end of something truly fantastic. This is followed up by the BEST credit music in the history of ever, where you can clearly feel the energy that the Royal Philharmonic puts into that incredible score.

It is the best end to an epic-scale series that I have witnessed to date, and I personally don’t think will ever be surpassed. I of course was excited to see POTC 4, which was far easier to understand, but that incredible relationship between the actors was missing because so many of them were either killed off in the third film, or decided simply not to return. And now that POTC 5 has been announced as the final film of the series which is set to be released in 2017, I sincerely hope that the characters who have not been killed off will return as a nostalgic nod to a fantastic endeavor that will have started fifteen years prior. (And even characters that have been killed off. I am a believer that Norrington is not dead. BRING BACK NORRINGTON!! Actually, can we make that a thing? #norringtonlives )

So that’s why I love Pirates of the Caribbean 3; At World’s End. I love that I kept up with the story, I love the music, I love the settings, I love the actors, I love that I can recite full forty minute segments, but for the life of me I cannot explain the Pythagorean Theorem to you. Please give the movie a second chance, forgive its flaws, and suspend your disbelief. I guarantee you that you still will not like it as much as I do, as I could never love your favorite movie as much as you do.

You have a movie out there that you feel was made only for you. Pirates of the Caribbean 3 was made only for me. And isn’t that a wonderful thing?

Drink up, me hearties yo ho!