Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Is this third installment an overblown, drawn-out spectacle with more plot twists than a pretzel factory? Perhaps. Does it still deliver a visually stunning, wham-bam conclusion to a rousing pirate trilogy? Absolutely.
Sailing to the end of the world, escaping Davy Jones' Locker, betraying your fellow shipmates, forming alliances and/or crossing swords with either dead crustaceans or British government baddies is just another day in the life of these pirates, whose convoluted interactions with one another rival any soap opera. The players have all returned: Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley), now a expert pirate herself; steadfast Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), estranged from his love Elizabeth and on a mission to save his father, Bootstrap (Stellan Skarsgard); Capt. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), risen from the dead to lead the Black Pearl; Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander), the evil head of the East India Trading Company, who has control of the Flying Dutchman as well as the inky Davy Jones (Bill Nighy); Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris), the mystic who may be a little more powerful than we think. And a few new faces, too, namely Capt. Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat), a cunning Chinese pirate. And then there's Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), who, since being rescued by his mates from the depths of hell, has some great dead man's tales to tellas well as a few debts to pay. As the Pirates of the Caribbean get ready for their final, titanic battle, all their lives and fortunes--and the entire future of the freedom-loving pirate wayhang in the balance.
Everyone does a nice job further developing their characters in this third installment. As the young lovers, Knightley's Elizabeth has gone from being a pamperedalbeit feistylass to a full-fledged, ass-kicking pirate (even if she has clean teeth), while Bloom's Will, once green at the whole hero thing, turns into a true leader. Rush, as the new and improved Barbossa, isn't nearly as menacing in human form as he was undead, but his sparring with Captain Jack over who's the rightful captain of the Black Pearl makes for some hilarious scenes. Nighy even gets to display a somewhat softer side to Davy Jones, as we learn more about the octopus head's backstory. Hollander (Pride & Prejudice) appropriately oozes villainy, while Chow makes a nice addition as the grizzled Chinese pirate lord. Last but not least is Mr. Depp. Thankfully, his Jack Sparrow isn't as cartoonish as he was in Dead Man's Chest. In fact, watching him interact with a whole pirate ship full of Jack Sparrow clones is quite something. But with a mixture of pirate swagger, sexuality and effeminate mannerisms, Jack never really changesand that's fine by us. And yes, Keith Richards makes a well-placed cameo. That guy was born to play a pirate.
Two hours and 45 minutes, folksthat's what you're in for with At World's End. Even if you are a pirate fan, that's a lot of time yo-ho-ho-ing out at sea. Maybe director Gore Verbinski wanted to make four POTC movies but instead he's forced to tie up all the loose endsof which there seems to be an endless supplyin the third installment. At one point just to further things along, Verbinski stages a long scene of exposition, backstabbing and deal making by cutting between characters pacing around on their respective ships. We get it. Everyone has an agenda, and no one can be trusted. To its credit, however, At World's End still manages to keep your attention with its amazing visuals. The production value and special effects on this trilogy rivals another famous trilogy involving a place called Middle Earth. In At World's End we have: the crowded waterways of Singapore and opulent den of Sao Feng; Shipwreck Cove, where an important pirate summit is held; watching how the Black Pearl makes its way from a dry, flat sea bed to the ocean AND the way to get from Davy Jones' Locker back to the world of the living; and of course, the final climactic battle at sea. The movie's long but definitely worth its weight in gold doubloons, giving just a whiff of possibility to a fourth one.
Hollywood.com rated this film 3 stars.