Movie Review of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)

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Review #463 of 365
Movie Review of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007) [PG-13] 168 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $12.00
Where Viewed: United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, Denver, CO
When 1st Seen: 24 May 2007
Time: 10:30 p.m.
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer
DVD Release Date: 4 December 2007

Directed by: Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest)
Written by: Ted Elliott (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest) and Terry Rossio (Déjà Vu)

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest) • Geoffrey Rush (Candy) • Orlando Bloom (Love and Other Disasters) • Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest) • Bill Nighy (Hot Fuzz) • Jonathan Pryce (Renaissance) • Stellan Skarsgård (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest) • Tom Hollander (A Good Year) • Naomie Harris (Miami Vice) • Yun-Fat Chow (Curse of the Golden Flower)

Soundtrack: Download now from Hans Zimmer - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End — or — order the CD below

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
Cruel and off course, unfortunately, the third installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean, failed to sail perfectly into the sunset not only taunting fans with the potential for a fourth film but seemingly sealing faulty fates for its beloved main characters. Helming all three films Director Gore Verbinski and writers Ted Elliott and created legendary characters and an exhilarating and fresh look at Pirate lore for their Curse of the Black Pearl and Dead Man's Chest (click here for a three part review of DMC). In what was a surprise to most, the second one left things unfinished and revealed this third chapter, At World's End in a clever and beguiling way. Our 'hero' Captain Jack Sparrow, a character as richly painted as ever there were one, from the clever mind of Johnny Depp, seemingly was killed by the Kraken and plunged to the depths of what the Pirates call, Davy Jones's Locker. In perhaps the most convoluted fashion since the equally misguided resurrection of Spock in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), attempts to conspire with a fellow Pirate Lord, Captain Sao Feng (Yun-Fat Chow) to bring a now-gone-bonkers Sparrow from his icy grave. Things don't go as planned when Sao Feng suspects treachery as he has previously apprehended Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) attempting to steal his prized sea charts leaving Barbossa and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) to outwit and outrun the men of Sao Feng and the attacking troops under the command of Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) and his newly acquired toadie, Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and his crew of the Flying Dutchman. Tia Dalma, the Caribbean siren who resurrected Barbossa and his crew holds the key to everything at the side of Barobssa and Elizabeth Swann as we will later learn of her true identity and the pact made by Barbossa to unite the 9 Pirate Lords and use their 9 pieces of 8 to unleash a secret power back onto the world. With apologies and attempts not to spoil too much of the slightly unintelligible plot (between the folds and twists and Tia Dalma's mumbling lines and riddles) if you are lost with that short description, don't worry you won't feel much differently upon seeing it on screen. This is, the very first of the downfalls of PoC:AWE.

"Gone is the adventure, gone is the hilarity, in place we have a predictable climax, under-utilized stars, and a relatively boring, 168-minute film that may leave you eager to volunteer to walk the plank to escape."
The overall plot concept is fine. Resurrect Sparrow. Defeat Beckett. Allow pirates to go back to being pirates. Finally unite Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. Tie up other loose ends. Explain some more pirate lore along the way. And, wouldn't 168 minutes be more than enough time to accomplish all that? No doubt! Unfortunately, writers Elliott and Rossio mired the overall plot with too much minutia. Honestly, at least 68 minutes could have been cut from the film with no loss. The action sequences are drawn out to excess, the eventual and predictable meeting of the 9 Pirate Lords goes on and on, the who's Elizabeth Swann really in love with (Sparrow, Turner, or someone else) overburdened, and there's literally no sense of adventure at all. There's actually nearly and equal amount of plain, old-fashioned quarreling as there is anything else. Not sure about you, but watching people quarrel endlessly isn't that much fun. And, sadly but truly, a lack of fun is the other main downfall of the film. There's almost no fun. Looking back on PoC:DMC there was frolicking adventure and riotous fun. Some of Captain Jack's antics from his time as the Tribal King where he ultimately gets set up as dinner to his water wheel walking escape, there was a seasoned and delightful blend of fun and adventure. Humor offset the horror of the potential doom and dread inflicted by the Kracken. There are some scattered jokes in PoC:AWE (most of which are revealed in the trailer), but there are zero, not just fewer, there are no singularly hysterical parts of this film that would entice me to want to pay the ticket fee again and again just to relive.

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In some ways, it is entirely unfair to compare chapters of a film or sequels etc. There used to be a prevailing sense among film critics that all sequels were just plain bad. On the one hand, PoC:AWE is not a sequel. It's really more like part 2 of PoC:DMC. And, it's the bad part. The unnecessary part. The part that just sinks the ship or makes you eager to walk the plank and get it over with. In any case, judged in series, PoC:AWE is not the best part. It is, by far, the worst. Judged alone, it would have ranked the PoC concept right up there with the other Disney® ride-turned-film movie, The Haunted Mansion—in other words, disaster. The third part of a story is not the time to introduce the dark sides of beloved characters. The only character that was improved over time was Elizabeth Swann. She becomes even more powerful and lovely. She gives an inspirational speech to unite the Pirates, though she does so with some tendency to sound a bit whiny and overly emotional, that causes her character to soar. Virtually all the others, from Sparrow to Turner to the ruthless Davy Jones and Barbossa, become watered down versions of their former selves. They seem, quite honestly, tired. And why wouldn't they after spending years making the second film to be quickly spun into making the third? Their performances are not the larger-than-life characters we'd grown to love, but more sullen shells. There is too much effort on their faces. Not wishing, of course, in this non-spoiler review, to blow the climax of the film, I'll write only this for those who may disagree and think I'm being too harsh: (1) There were 9 Pirate Lords at the final battle plus their ships and crews. How many did we see actually participate in the battle? (2) Calypso arises, disappears, and then what? Does she create the maelstrom as we must presume? What else? So what? She's so angry and powerful etc.? So what? And (3) Was it necessary for the foreshadowing of what would happened to Turner and Swann to be as blunt as a cast iron skillet hitting us over the head so that we could predict it so easily?

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Was there anything redeeming about the film? Anything to motivate me to want recommend people see it? Well, no doubt people will see it either way. Last night's special early opening deviating from the "special midnight opening" concept and just going ahead and starting at 8:00 on Thursday to capture even more viewers was populated by people in pirate costumes ready to swashbuckle the theatre. People, fans, etc. came to enjoy the film. There was applause at the end. Not by me, but by others. My two companions to the showing both loved the film and thought is was, by far, the best of the three. They loved the love story and thought Keira Knightley was spectacular. I didn't remind them, really, that this franchise, at least in my mind, was not about Elizabeth Swann or Will Turner or their love story. This franchise was about Captain Jack Sparrow. Was being the operative word in the sentence of course. Because this film really was not about him. It really was about Swann and Turner. In the previous two films, they were the supporting cast, the icing on a great cake baked by Sparrow. For me, it has always been Johnny Depp and his Keith Richards-inspired take on the Captain who made this whole thing work. In PoC:AWE he's relegated to the back seat amongst all these other Pirate Lords and the rise of Swann and Turner to power. He's got a few one-liners and the same gag escape used not once but twice? I don't blame Mr. Depp at all. I blame the writers and the director for setting his character to the back seat in this one.

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Cast Members
Johnny DeppGeoffrey RushOrlando Bloom
Keira KnightleyJack DavenportBill Nighy
Jonathan PryceStellan SkarsgårdTom Hollander
Naomie HarrisYun-Fat Chow
Gore Verbinski
Ted ElliottTerry Rossio
CD Soundtrack
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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007) Review-lite [150-word cap]
Had this been the story for the Curse of the Black Pearl, PoC would have suffered the same sad box office fate as Disney's other ride-turned-film mishap The Haunted Mansion. Unfortunately, in this third film be it chapter 3 or part two of chapter two, loses focus on what really made the other two so spectacular: Johnny Depp's Captain Jack and his rollicking, hilarious misadventures. Gone is the adventure, gone is the hilarity, in place we have a predictable climax, under-utilized stars, and a relatively boring, 168-minute film that may leave you eager to volunteer to walk the plank to escape.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The first Pirates of the Caribbean was great, not too sure about the other two, tho the special effects were top notch of course. if they come out with a fourth will it maintain the quality of the first?