Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
- Reviewed by: Mel Valentin
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Current Rating 6.97/10 | 165 Votes
The Curse of the Black Pearl's box office returns convinced mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer to push the sequels quickly into production. Bruckheimer decided to round out the after-the-fact trilogy by shooting the sequels simultaneously and bringing back director Gore Verbinski and screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio along with the principal and supporting casts. Last summer, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest sidestepped critical disapproval and became an unqualified hit at the box office. Overlong at two hours and a half, Dead Man's Chest was all set up and little payoff (as expected for the middle film in a trilogy). Spectacle and action took precedence the characters and stories audiences seemed to adore so much. That did little, of course, to hinder Dead Man's Chest's success with general audiences who wanted to spend more time with Captain Jack Sparrow and revisit the world he lives in.
Dead Man's Chest introduced one of the more memorable villains in quite some time, Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), a cursed pirate with tentacles for a beard and as despicably villainous as Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) was in The Curse of the Black Pearl. It also introduced another, more stealthily dangerous villain, Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander), a rapaciously greedy, scheming representative of the East Indies Trading Company. Beckett plans to end piracy in the Caribbean once and for all. Dead Man’s Chest also introduced Will’s long lost, covered-in-barnacles father, 'Bootstrap' Bill Turner (Stellan Skarsgård), cursed to serve eternally on Davy Jones’ haunted pirate ship, the Flying Dutchman. Also back, mostly for comic relief, were Weatherby Swann (Jonathan Pryce), Elizabeth's father and former governor, Pintel (Lee Arenberg) and Ragetti (Mackenzie Crook), cousins and knaves, and Gibbs (Kevin R. McNally), Sparrow's first mate.
When we last saw Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), the Kraken, a giant monster, had swallowed him whole. Davy Jones was free, but, thanks to Commodore Norrington's (Jack Davenport) betrayal, Beckett now has Davy Jones' supernaturally powered heart and uses it to force Davy Jones to do his bidding. Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), Sparrow's crew rush to a voodoo priestess, Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris), for help in bringing Sparrow back from Davy Jones' Locker (a/k/a the land of the dead). Saving Sparrow, however, requires the guidance of the recently resurrected Barbossa. Barbossa seems eager to help, but given his duplicitous history with Sparrow, Will, and Elizabeth, isn't to be trusted. Will and Elizabeth's relationship has also grown uncertain. After spending time alone with Sparrow, Elizabeth seems less eager to settle down with Will Turner.
To find Davy Jones' Locker and World's End, Will, Elizabeth, and Barbossa have to travel to Singapore and steal a navigational chart from Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun Fat), a fierce Chinese pirate. Together, they have to journey through frozen wastes before sailing over an enormous, churning waterfall and into Davy Jones' Locker to rescue a hallucinating Sparrow. Post-rescue, Sparrow and Barbossa have to overcome their mutual antipathies and join forces to battle Beckett and Davy Jones. Beckett has put his plan to rid the Caribbean of pirates with Davy Jones' supernatural assistance. Realizing that they can't beat Beckett and Jones alone, Will, Elizabeth, Sparrow, and Barbossa call a meeting of the nine pirates lords, the Brethren of the Coast, in turn setting the stage for the decisive battle between the pirate lords and Beckett’s forces.
Densely plotted and excessively convoluted, At World's End is, when all is said and done, a fitting conclusion to an after-the-fact trilogy. Verbinski, Elliot, and Rossio packed the epic length,168 minute running time with plots and counterplots, betrayals and reversals, sometimes within moments of each other, all to keep audiences interested and involved until the final, drawn-out battle (as exhausting for the audience as it is for the swashbuckling water-logged characters onscreen) and the slow-to-unfold aftermath where we say goodbye to the surviving characters. As convoluted as Dead Man’s Chest was and At World’s End is, At World’s End reaches hard to be more than just another summer blockbuster and create a deeply layered world that filmgoers and home viewers will want to revisit repeatedly.
At World's End also ties up all the loose plot threads left dangling at the end of Dead Man's Chest. Most of the resolutions are, at minimum, superficially satisfying. It also offers a bittersweet ending to Elizabeth and Will's romance. Not surprisingly, At World's End leaves room for yet another sequel, giving Sparrow a new goal that could easily fill another feature-length film. At World's End also provides a post-credits coda of sorts for Will and Elizabeth, but it doesn't add much that audience members couldn't have guessed on their own. Disney spent $300 million on At World's End to make sure there was plenty of action and spectacle to satisfy audiences looking for that sort of thing (and really, who isn’t?). Whether audiences will want to see Sparrow and/or Elizabeth and Will again after At World's End is another matter. From the exhaustive, exhausting 168-minute running time, the answer is probably not.
© Mel Valentin, 25th May, 2007
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