PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END

 

Review by Mark Walters

 

As much as I enjoyed the first PIRATES movie, I've made it pretty clear how letdown I was by the second outing.  Much like BACK TO THE FUTURE II or THE MATRIX RELOADED, I found it to be little more than an overblown commercial for a third film.  And like those other films mentioned, the second and third outings of PIRATES were filmed at the same time.  Now at this point I felt like one of two things was going to happen... either I'd be very pleased with the third installment the way I was with BACK TO THE FUTURE III, or I'd be extremely disappointed the way I was with THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS.  Either way, I've been very curious to see how the folks involved (namely Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer) would try to wrap up this franchise.

When we last left our heroes, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) was doing battle with Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), whose heart (and control of his ship) still beats inside a modestly sized treasure chest.  The men of the East India Trading Company, led by Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander), got control of the chest and with it control over Davy Jones.  Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) had betrayed Jack, letting him "die" in the grip of the monstrous sea creature called the Kraken, and her boyfriend Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) was busy trying to save his father Bootstrap Bill (Stellan Skarsgard) from Davy Jones' curse.  At the end of it all back then, Sparrow's crew enlists the help of a mysterious witch named Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris), who reveals that the previously believed dead Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) can now help them find Jack at the "world's end", and potentially bring him back.

  And so begins this new outing.  Elizabeth Swann along with the apparently alive Captain Barbossa infiltrate the camp of some Asian priates led by Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat), where she finds Will Turner already caught.  Through some clever negotiations, they get Captain Feng to allow the use of his ship and crew, and set sail to find Captain Jack at the location Barbossa speaks of.  Meanwhile, at the "world's end", Jack is spending his days hallucinating and speaking with several mirror images of himself.  All the while Beckett is still using Davy Jones for his power-hungry purposes, and hopes to wipe out any and all pirates that remain in his way.  Once Jack is found, Will and Elizabeth must struggle with their now mixed feelings for each other, and the entire crew must fight to survive against both Davy Jones and Beckett's invading armies.

  PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END is 2 hours and 47 minutes long, and man oh man does it feel it.  To focus on the positive, the final 47 minutes of footage is nothing short of spectacular action at its finest.  We're treated to pirate ships blasting cannons at each other amidst whirling ocean pools, well-choreographed sword fights, huge explosions, and special effects galore.  In fact, that final 47 minutes may just be some of the most astounding movie footage I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing in theaters.  BUT, the two long hours leading up to it is sadly meandering, confusing, and at times downright boring. On more than one occasion I actually began to nod off, and it became a struggle to keep my eyes open.  Where was the action?  Where was the intense thrills?  Where was the lively comedy?  Not here folks.  Knowing the running time going into this, it made it that much more annoying that they couldn't have done some important trimming and tightened editing here and there... and just about everywhere.  The Captain jack we know and love is back... kind of.  If you're like me, you were probably more than a little upset to see Jack portrayed as a somewhat despicable and downright mean pirate in the second outing.  Here he is almost back to original form.  The personality is there, even if the memorable lines still aren't.  Kiera Knightley gets some nice character moments, which are long overdue in this series.  Even Orlando Bloom seems to have some new life breathed into him this time around.  The principle three are in pretty fine form, which is nice to see after their lackluster portrayals in the second movie.  But some characters, such as the almost impossible to understand Tia Dalma, or even Sao Feng, end up being either wasted or just less than impressive.  I know I'm not the only one out there who has a hard time trying to understand Naomie Harris' overly thick accent.  As for Chow Yun-Fat, someone must have turned on his overacting switch, because his portrayal is unusually over the top, and left me with a bad taste for that character.  Oh, and don't get me started on how lame Jonathan Pryce's moments were this time around.  That guy is a great actor, and did not deserve the afterthought treatment his character got here.  Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa gets plenty of screen time, though I found myself asking "When did Barbossa becomes a nice guy?"  I mean, Jack stole from him, killed him even, and now he's all smiles.  I don't get it.  Even the score, which like the second outing lacks many of the themes we grew to love so much in the first film, in this one just comes across as bombastic and familiar.  Come on Hans Zimmer!  Is it an awful film?  By no means.  As I stated early in this review, that last act is superb.  But getting to that point is a pain.  Someone needs to tell director Gore Verbinski to embrace editing.  There is absolutely no reason why this had to be a three hour movie.  And as great as the third act action was, how about spreading it out a bit to make up for the dull parts, of which there are many.  One thing this film makes clear is that there's plenty of opportunity for more sequels, though I can only hope they'll learn from their mistakes.  These films could easily be great, with a lot of cutting and more simplistic scripts.  How simple?  See part one, which if I remember correctly was more than a bit long-winded itself.

BIGFANBOY.com score - On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being best, I give PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END a generous 6.


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