Film review: "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"
By Sarah Pfander
Gargoyle assistant editor
Posted Saturday, May 26, 2007, The OG, arts
THIS MOVIE DIDN'T have to be good. As the third and supposed final installment of a well-known and overly-hyped movie series, “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End” promised to be an instant success (if not in the minds of the critics, at least in the box office).
With director Gore Verbinski making his third appearance alongside the all-star cast of Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, and Johnny Depp, “At World's End” is slotted as one of the summer's big blockbusters, and so far seems to be right on track.
“At World's End” sees the return of Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp), Elizabeth Swann (Knightley), and Will Turner (Bloom) as they try to defeat the East India Trading Company and the evil Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander), who has vowed to end the way of the pirate for good.
The three obtain maps from Sao Feng, meant to help them in their journey to the end of the world, where they will retrieve Jack from Davy Jones' locker.
After a successful journey to the land of the dead, in which the crew braves freezing cold, giant waterfalls, sweltering heat, and some upside-down boating, Jack and company finally return to the world of the living.
However, a grim future is waiting for them. Beckett, in possession of Davy Jones' heart and thus in a position of command over the infamous, treacherous ruler of the seas, has been blasting pirates to bits.
- Directed by: Gore Verbinski
- Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley
- Rated: PG-13
- Released: May 24, 2007
- Runtime: 168 minutes
- Playing in C-U: Beverly 18, Savoy 16, Boardman's Art Theatre
- Summary: Weird and funny, exciting and action-packed, “At World's End” is a fine way to wrap up the “POTC” series.
As a result, the nine Pirate Lords from the four corners of the Earth assemble at the brethren court in Shipwreck Cove to decide a course of action.
The pirates choose to face the British — and Davy Jones' ghost ship, the Flying Dutchman — in a final showdown that takes place in center of a maelstrom and will determine the fate of piracy.
The Black Pearl with Barbossa, Will, Elizabeth, and Jack face the Dutchman in an action sequence that is not soon to be forgotten, featuring a dangerous sword battle between Jack and Davy Jones atop the mast of the Dutchman, an amazing kiss between Will and Elizabeth, a monkey that is shot out of a cannon, hilarious antics from the incompetent English navy, and overall slicing and dicing, swinging and shooting.
Was this movie good? No, absolutely not. But it was brilliant; brilliant in the way that it sticks to its strengths. “POTC” has not made it this far because of interesting plot development, multidimensional characters, and subtle humor.
Rather, these movies are dependent merely on action, special effects, witty one-liners, and, of course, Johnny Depp.
Depp steals the show yet again as Jack Sparrow. Even though he doesn't come back from the land of the dead for 40 excruciating, Johnny-less minutes, the audience gets its fair share of wobbling, leering, and wisecracking. Unfortunately, at least for the Johnny fanatics like myself, Depp peaked in “Dead Man's Chest.”
Because Bloom got “Curse of the Black Pearl” and Depp got “Dead Man's Chest,” it was Knightley's turn to dominate.
In “At World's End,” neither Jack's humor nor Will's valiant honor are the focus as they were in the previous films. Rather, Elizabeth is given her moment in the sun as the sexy, empowered woman.
And Knightley does it well, very well. From killing bad guys to kissing Bloom to pulling guns out of her butt, she always looks razor sharp and gorgeous.
However, Knightley's leap to main character status was not the only new thing in “At World's End.” Numerous loose ends left from the first movie and an unbelievable amount of double-crossing and treachery meant that much less time was devoted to sword fights and swashbuckling.
Was this bad or good? I would say it was an improvement over the second film, in which pointless, 10-minute sword fights left the movie lacking and uninteresting.
However, when the action is replaced with incoherent and incomprehensible monologues from the magical Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) as well as unecessarily confusing twists and turns, there hasn't actually been much of an improvement.
That's not to say that this movie was not incredibly enjoyable. Most scenes were, in fact, quite understandable and fun.
One of the best scenes was the pirate meeting at Shipwreck Cove, featuring funny caricatures of the pirates from Mexico, Africa, China, the Mideast, India, and France. Though easily misconstrued as too stereotypical, this scene is hilarious. See, “POTC” has progressed past crude, violent humor to sophisticated, prejudicial jokes. What could be better than that? (Despite this sarcastic tone, the scene was entertaining.)
On a more serious note, Keith Richards enters this scene as Captain Teague, Sparrow's estranged father. This actually was funny, seeing as Depp modeled his flamboyant portrayal of Captain Sparrow off of Richards.
The final interaction in this scene is classic “POTC.” Jack enquires after the state of his mother, and Teague holds up a gross, shrunken head. Grimacing, Sparrow replies, “She looks great.”
“At World's End” does what the “POTC” movies do best. And it does so while leaving the viewer satisfied in a way “Dead Man's Chest” did not. And in my mind it rivals “Curse of the Black Pearl,” but that may simply be because I have become more obsessed with the series in recent years.
Weird and funny, exciting and action-packed, “At World's End” was a fine way to wrap up the series. It provided a good three-hour respite from the boring and mundane world that we live in, and entertained (me, at least) from start to finish. It leaves the audience wanting more, while maintaining a sense of finality.
The delighted sighs and applause from the audience as the lights came back on let one know that this movie is a hit.
— External link: The film's official site
— External link: The film's IMDB site