Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) return for the third installment in a film franchise that has accrued over $2 billion worldwide. The trio, and a whole bunch of other familiar faces and tentacles, return to break new box office records in “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.”
I won’t belabor going into the plotlines of “Pirates 3.” It will not make a bit of a difference for the millions that are going to fork out well over $100 million on its opening weekend. I am guessing that this could be the record breaker that may even top the $200 million mark on its debut over the Memorial Day weekend.
I was apprehensive, to say the least, with the prospect of seeing a near three hour follow up to Pirates 2,” a film that was, to me, akin to watching paint dry. Sure, the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” was a lot of fun, especially Johnny Depp’s creation of a swishy, always drunk Jack Sparrow. The sequel, “Dead Man’s Chest,” had the single-minded story of Jack trying to get out of his blood debt with the infamous Davey Jones (Bill Nighy) – for over two and a half hours. It was an agonizing experience for this reviewer.
Fortunately, the third “Pirates” provides a plethora of plots from Will’s search for his father and proposal of marriage to Elizabeth to the Brethren Court of pirate bosses and the evil Lord Beckett’s nefarious plan to destroy the pirates world wide with Davey Jones and his ghostly Flying Dutchman. As such, there is enough to keep the mindless part of the mind occupied for 160 minutes without too much strain. The good thing about a long film like this is that you can take a bathroom break at any time without fear of missing anything important, because nothing important happens.
This is not to say that “At World’s End” is not entertaining. There is enough swash and buckle, bad guys, blow ups, funny antics and sword play to keep the fans very happy and give the non-fans forced to accompany them a modicum of amusement. The returning players give more of the same as in the previous films but Geoffrey Rush gets a chance, and runs with it, to chew up the scenery as the human-again Captain Barbossa. New to the franchise, Chow Yun-Fat, as Captain Sao Feng, is a two-dimensional character that is there because of his star power and little else.
To me, not exactly a fan of the theme park ride (never been there) or the film franchise, “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” is a piece of high tech fluff that will draw its fans in droves. For the rest of you, wait until it comes out on DVD rental. It should have been cut, easily, by 30 minutes to no detriment to the finished product but, hey, this is a Jerry Bruckheimer film. I give it a B-.
In order to defeat the evil Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander, "Pride & Prejudice") of the East India Company, who has vowed to wipe out the world's pirates with the Flying Dutchman and its Captain, Davy Jones (Bill Nighy, "Notes on a Scandal") under his control, Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley, "Pride & Prejudice), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom, "Kingdom of Heaven") and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush, "Munich") must unite the Nine Lords of the Brethren Court. One of those members is Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), last seen being consumed by the Kraken, and so they form a crew and consult mystic Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris, "Miami Vice") to arrive as "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End."
With his third, and hopefully last, installment of the Disney theme park ride, director Gore Verbinski stops taking on the water evidenced in the bloated "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" and turns his ship around enough to deliver a conclusion that, if not exactly satisfying, doesn't suck. There are moments of great action, great effects and some humor to be found here, but there is no mistaken that the film is still over-plotted, way too long and simply not funny enough.
After an extended opening sequence in Singapore that completely and utterly wastes the talents of Chow Yun-Fat ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") as Captain Sao Feng, but does start the feminine empowerment ball rolling for Knightley's Swann character, Jack's tenuous pals journey through frozen seas to arrive in the underworld, prettily visualized as a sea of stars. It's taken quite a while to get to Jack, but when we do get to him there are a whole shipful of him - seems Sparrow's delusional, captaining a ship crewed by himself in various incarnations, in a scene that really does nothing but extend the film's running time. Once found, Jack's the one who unlocks the mystery of their stolen map and once again, pretty visuals (a realization of the Caribbean's legendary 'green flash') accompany dicey plot logic as the Black Pearl returns to the land of the living.
Crosses, double crosses and romantic intrigue continue to pile up with one satisfying political partnership between Sparrow and Swan crowning her King of the Pirates. The votes of the Nine Lords can be overruled by the King, you see, and Sparrow believes their only chance of success lies with releasing the sea goddess Calypso. Once done, this sets in motion two very entertaining, if overlong, sea battles - one against the Dutchman, the next against the British (featuring an absolute stunner of a scene where Beckett's world literally implodes around him). A final coda is actually a unique wrap on the romance that began the trilogy, yet it also opens the door for a fourth film.
Depp, who began to disappoint in "Dead Man's" returns to form here, but the role that ironically garnered him his first Oscar nomination has been keeping the actor from exploring his talent. Enough is enough. That said, it's a joy to watch Rush eat up the scenery and Knightley really comes into her own as a swashbuckler. The much ballyhooed Keith Richards cameo fails to excite much of anything except the inexplicable return of that jailhouse dog, but there is a well trained monkey in the movie that delivers.
"Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" delighted because of Depp's truly inspired choices and the low expectations set by the film's inspiration, a theme park ride. The third installment gets a pass for undoing most of the damage done by the second. This is a trilogy that floats on faint praise.
Home | Reviews and Ratings Archive | Top 10 | Video | Crew | Article | Links