Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie, Jay Wolpert
Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Jack Davenport, Bill Nighy, Jonathan Pryce, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook, Kevin McNally, David Bailie, Stellan Skarsgrd, Tom Hollander, Naomie Harris, Martin Klebba, David Schofield, Chow Yun-Fat
As May ends, the last of the trilogy cappers that I’ll be checking out has arrived at the multiplex. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End takes Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and company on new adventures, expanding the maritime universe that we came to love and then to hate.
Although the number of twisting plots in At World’s End isn’t as poorly put together as those in Spider-Man 3, they are far more complex and irritating. Everyone has an ulterior motive and each of the characters take efforts to secure what they desire.
As Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) works desperately to rid the seas of cutthroat pirates, Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris), and most of the remaining crews of the Black Pearl come together to help rescue one of the Pirate Lords so they can convene the Pirate Court and seek a unity to push back the forces threatening their livelihoods.
Sparrow is the man they must rescue, but they have to take a twisting, frigid trek to get to him. This involves stealing an important map from another of the Lords, Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat). This is all introduced in the first thirty minutes of the film, giving the audience to speculate what the filmmakers will do for the remaining 2 hours and 15 minutes.
The rest of the film is filled with unnecessary exposition, a thoroughly ridiculous segment featuring Sparrow and the Black Pearl trapped in the middle of some salt flats, and countless other contrivances that waste the audience’s time unnecessarily.
What works well is the dazzling sets and overall production design. The film is sumptuous to look at and for the price tag, I would hope so. The film’s visual effects are definitely better than its web-slinging box office competition, but not so much as you would expect. While there are some amazing fight sequences featuring Rush, Bloom and Knightley, much of the rest of the film is given to posing and grandstanding that overwhelm the overly simplified plot.
Director Gore Verbinski definitely knows how to create suspense. If there’s one thing the film excels at is creating dramatic excitement. When we’re given over to fast-moving, non-expository sequences, we get the visual flair we came to love in the first film. However, Verbinski can’t keep the pace when forced to slow down.
The performances haven’t gotten better and even the normally-interesting Depp barely keeps your attention. He’s reduced to the role of a blithering idiot at times and much of his mysterious charm is ruined by the unflattering insanity forced upon him from when he walks on the screen until the very end.
Oftentimes the supporting performances are more interesting and varied. Keith Richards in his all-too-brief role as Jack’s father shows up many of his compatriots while on screen. Even the rowdy crew of the Black Pearl is more interesting than the top billed actors.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End slightly passes the film’s second chapter, Dead Man’s Chest, in terms of quality. And it’s a better film than the cluttered Spider-Man 3 or the out-of-ideas Shrek the Third, but when stacked up against the series’ first film, it can’t compete. The first film was a delightful surprise when audiences discovered it.
While filmmakers have claimed that a trilogy was always in the works, they didn’t decide to add the sequel-ready title of The Curse of the Black Pearl to the film until they had test audience approval. However, like The Matrix before it, Disney took an interesting and engaging concept and bludgeoned it into the ground. The only difference between the two trilogies is that the final Matrix film, Revolutions, was the worst of the series. At World’s End at least provides a better conclusion.
June 3, 2007