Chalk up number three of the summer. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End has arrived in theaters and knocked out the oh-so endearing “Shrek the Third” from it’s elevated position as the weekend top grosser. But isn’t that what we expected to happen? After all, our lovable ogre lost a great deal of his mojo in his third time around the track. Same goes for Spider-Man. Thankfully, as I’d been hoping, a worthy third has hit the cinemas. Finally.
In this chapter, we find our hygieneless(?) pirate Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”) banished to Davey Jone’s Locker where he has apparently taken to talking to multiples of himself to occupy the time. Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) set off to find and release Sparrow — each for their own nefarious reasons. Turner wants to turn Sparrow in to East India Trading Company (EIT) in exchange for the Black Pearl so he can set his father free from the Jolly Roger. Barbossa needs the pieces-of-eight Sparrow holds so he can reconvene the brethren court of nine pirate lords. His ultimate goal is to release Calypso, the goddess of the seas. Swann has guilt issues dating back to “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” and sees Sparrow as the ultimate solution to defeating EIT and Davy Jones. Of course everything goes every which way but loose and allegiances and plans change as often as I change my boxer shorts on a hot summer day. It’s this fluidity caused by fractured promises and outcomes that works both for and against Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.
On the one hand, it’s great because it keeps the movie fresh and invigorating. There are a myriad of side plots all twisting and flailing about, yet marching toward, the main objective. The subplots allow for the introduction of a few new characters, most notably Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat) and additional face time to others from the previous movies. The director (Gore Verbinski) does a handsome job of intermixing all the characters and developments as the story progresses. It could have been extremely easy for him to lose his bearing while navigating these storylines. This is a job very well done.
On the other hand, with all these subplots, cut-tos and cut-outs it is rather easy to get confused and forget who is doing what to whom and why. An average movie goer isn’t necessarily going to follow along with all the twists and turns and may find themselves scratching their heads later in the movie. Even I’ll admit there were a few moments, albeit extremely brief moments, that I needed mentally try and piece back the chronology of events — something I don’t like to have to do (it detracted from my enjoyment of “The Matrix Revolutions” too). Although they’re done well, they just may be one too many.
And of course I shouldn’t have to say it, but I will; visually Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is brilliantly crafted. The land, and especially the seascapes, are a sight to see. It reminded me why I won’t be taking any cruises anytime soon. The attention to detail is evident on each of the warships. Nothing is skipped — whether it was a barnacle encrusted to a cannon, the splintering of the planks making up the decks or the weathering and tearing of the mainsails. And the final battle is truly something to behold.
Lastly, the acting. Each of the actors does an adequate job; none of them blew me out of the water. Perhaps it’s because this is the third installment and I’ve seen them all before. Depp’s portrayal of Sparrow is even more zany than before. I believe it is just a bit too metrosexual for my tastes this time around. And I’m not quite sure what I think about Keira Knightley. Very pretty, yet something about her screams man, which I find uncomfortable. The two standouts are Lee Arenberg as Pintel and Mackenzie Crook as Ragetti. These two guys are the prefect comic segues to the incredible action occurring around them. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End would simply not be as good as it is without them.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is definitely the best of the summer blockbusters of 2007 (at least until “Transformers” in July). Hell, it’s damn close to being the best of the Pirate’s trilogy. Go for the laughs. Go for the action. Whatever the reason, just go. You’ll be hard pressed to find another way to burn nearly three hours without knowing it.