Genre: Adventure and Fantasy Running Time: 2 hrs. 49 min.
Release Date: May 25th, 2007 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Gore Verbinski Actors: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, Jack Davenport, Jonathan Pryce, Stellan Skarsgard, Tom Hollander, Naomie Harris, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook
n exhilarating and epic finale to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy, this overlong, overstuffed film manages to neatly resolve all the loose ends from the previous entry, even if it takes considerable time to do so. Like many trilogies, the 2nd and 3rd parts go hand-in-hand, following up with the same characters and predicaments, as if a single story split in half. With enough additional subplots, betrayals, double agents, and turnarounds to keep things both intriguing and confusing, “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” perfectly but longwindedly complements – and builds upon – the theme-park-ride-inspired pirate lore first cinematized in 2003.
In order to rescue Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) from the watery grave of Davy Jones’ (Bill Nighy) Locker, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), and a band of pirates led by the notorious Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) must first steal a navigational chart from the Pirate Lord of Singapore, and then traverse a frozen ocean, before facing the raging waterfalls at the mouth of a desert tomb. If this unimaginable odyssey wasn’t enough, the adventurers must also unite the nine Pirate Lords of the World to wage a massive war against Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander), who is now in control of Davy Jones, by way of his disunited heart. Beckett, heading up the East India Trading Company, hopes to eradicate the pirate way of life – but the existence of a goddess called Calypso just might throw a maelstrom into the entire ordeal.
Just shy of three hours long, this gargantuan closing chapter clearly deviates from the target audience Disney originally set out for back with “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.” Will children be able to sit through a film this protracted? Will adults? And while the film concludes most of the major plot points, in its attempt to be thoroughly unpredictable, the climax is anything but a storybook ending. The first film made audiences want to be a pirate, and the second made a squid-faced buccaneer seem like a lot of fun, but this third venture will make everyone glad they’re merely watching a movie from a theater seat.
There’s swashbuckling action, though not as much as in the former two productions, and there are awesome characters, though most of them were priorly introduced in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.” Fantasy and the supernatural (such as zombie pirates and half-man/half-fish soldiers) fueled the beginning of the series, but this final act goes even further, opting for the indefinable outlandishness of Davy Jones’ Locker and the spontaneous, unexplained magic of Calypso, causing interruptions in the smoothness with which the story unfolds. In many ways, despite resolving the primary conflicts, this feature sets up the possibility for future episodes – surely banking on the franchise’s continued success, regardless of immediate box office performance.
Of the already massive cast of characters, new entries on the pirate side include Lord Sao Feng from Singapore (Chow Yun-Fat in an amusing but underused role) and eight other pirate lords, each with unique costuming and fashioning and little substantial reason for being included. Keith Richards steps into a cameo as Jack’s father, which amounts to nothing more than a nod to one of the inspirations for the mannerisms Depp adopted for his character. Additionally, the incorporation of extra supernatural elements and personas never really progresses or enhances the plot, instead serving solely to cheatingly explain whatever details or conundrums the writers wanted to get out of easily. Any hole dug too deep is quickly remedied by some spontaneous bit of magic.
Of the returning cast, few are changed or expanded upon, and those that are seem to be for the worse. Elizabeth Swann’s character is drunk on female empowerment, particularly after being dubbed the “King of the Pirates” and made a captain of her own ship – resulting in her barking orders to everyone in sight, as well as delivering a tiresome battle speech right before the ultimate confrontation (which conveniently waits for her to finish). While she’s always been a strong, independent woman, here her abilities are stepped up to an unnatural, practically comical degree. And if her power trip wasn’t enough, she adds an unwelcome touch of melodrama to replace the whimsical, battle-of-the-sexes, high-seas romance displayed in the previous two installments. Meanwhile, James Norrington (Jack Davenport) is utterly wasted; Beckett just keeps getting more devious for the sake of pointing out the evilness of the villains; and Sparrow and Barbossa play off each other’s humorous idiosyncrasies with constant banter that is anything but fresh. Perhaps the most interesting new component is Jack’s delusional multiplicity, which adds to his already eccentric personality, but may prove too weird for mainstream audiences to embrace.
With a macabrely menacing opening sequence that mimics the mood of the precursor, “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” sets the stage for a climactic showdown loaded with thrilling action, unparalleled special effects, and nonstop sarcastic quips from Jack Sparrow. While it succeeds wholeheartedly on the latter two of these accounts, it also incorporates an extremely long running time, which hurts the pacing and stretches the sense of adventure awfully thin. Falling into that unfortunate trend of sequels, in which they’re unable to maintain the energy and momentum of the originating pictures, “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” is arguably as entertaining as the Disneyland attraction on which it’s based, though its length might feel a bit like waiting in line for the ride.
– The Massie Twins