- The Washington Times - Monday, June 4, 2007

Arrgghh

“When it comes to an open-ended series, it is generally a good idea to revisit the previous film before embarking on the latest. But in the case of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ even a review of ‘Dead Man’s Chest’ might not be enough to ‘savvy’ (as Jack Sparrow would put it) ‘At World’s End.’ … So many plots and subplots are entangled in this bloated three-hour sea adventure that even die-hard fans will find them difficult to follow. …

“Yet as convoluted as the plot is, the worst sin director Gore Verbinski commits is not in overloading what should be a cheeky character- and atmosphere-driven sea tale, but in forgetting why audiences loved the ‘Pirates’ franchise in the first place.

“A pirate’s appeal is based in large part on his status as a renegade. But Verbinski gives us pirate codes, law books, and congresses — hardly the stuff of swashbuckling lore. …

“Jack doesn’t make an appearance for the first half hour, and then most of his contributions are as bizarre aside sequences.”

— Megan Basham, writing on “Off course,” in the June 9 issue of World Magazine

Europe’s corpse

“Reports of Europe’s death may have been greatly exaggerated. For a continent in the supposed grip of demographic implosion, economic stagnation, political paralysis and existential anomie, the news has been oddly cheerful recently.

“In the past year, the rate of economic growth in the eurozone has actually overtaken that of the U.S. …

“Is it possible, then, that the writers who have spent the past few years predicting Europe’s collapse could be wrong? The short answer is: no. Even a corpse has been known to twitch once or twice before the rigor mortis sets in. The longer answer is provided by Walter Laqueur in ‘The Last Days of Europe,’ one of the more persuasive in a long line of volumes by authors on both sides of the Atlantic chronicling Europe’s decline and foretelling its collapse. …

“The demographic problem is by now so familiar that it hardly bears restating. Mr. Laqueur notes that the average European family had five children in the 19th century; today it has fewer than two, a trend that will shrink the continent’s population in the next century on a scale unprecedented in modern history.”

— Gerard Baker, writing on “Continental Drift,” Thursday at OpinionJournal.com

Sheehan’s farewell

“Cindy Sheehan announced to the world that she is penniless and emotionally broken after her seemingly endless jihad against the United States military and the war against terrorism.

“Many political and media observers are consumed with the debate about the sincerity of Sheehan’s declaration — was this just another desperate publicity stunt by the left-wing antiwar activist, or was Cindy sincere about her desire to put her life back together and repair the relationships with family and friends that she herself destroyed?

“Buried within the press accounts on Cindy’s open letter to America was news that she had decided to sell the five-acre plot of land in Texas she had used as a staging ground for antiwar activists. …

“That development lit up the phone lines of the pro-troop, nonprofit organization I lead, Move America Forward, with supporters begging Move America Forward to purchase the land.

“After consulting with dozens of people, a plan has been put into place to do just that.”

— Melanie Morgan, writing on “Making lemonade with Cindy’s lemons,” Friday at WorldNetDaily.com

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