a critiQal film review Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)

Plot: As Will Turner (Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Knightley) team up with Captain Barbossa (Rush) in a desperate attempt to free Jack Sparrow (Depp) from Davy Jones' locker, the East India Trading Company uses ghost ships to take control of the seas.

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With our finances headed in other directions this summer, we knew there was no way we were going to able to repeat our feat of Summer ’06 (a movie every week). However, there were a few movies we just couldn’t miss, and Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End was high on that list. Once it hit theaters last Thursday, we’ve been chomping at the bit to go see it – but how to do so without being crushed among the masses? Then, this weekend, the opportunity presented itself – first showing on Memorial Day Monday – and we jumped at it.

But, would Pirates of the Caribbean 3 be worth the year-long wait (since the cliffhanger ending of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)), or was it bound to be as much of a disappointment as Shrek the Third (2007)?

Johnny Depp, as Captain Jack Sparrow, again steals the scene every time he appears on-screen in Pirates of the Caribbean 3 – sometimes even from himself. He enjoys playing this lunatic-fringe Captain (as evidenced by this being the only character he has agreed to play in a sequel), and the fun he has with the role is highly infectious. While his performance in the subsequent sequels has never been able to match the outstanding job he did with the original film, his firm grasp on the role – and his sly grin – will keep viewers returning as long as he keeps playing this character.

Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, on the other hand, both seem to have lost a lot of the fun that originally shown through in their roles, with Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Swann the only one of the two who retains at least a little of the fun her role is supposed to be in Pirates of the Caribbean 3. For Orlando’s Will Turner, however, his fun on the high seas has been replaced by an overwhelming obsession that leaves little time for anything else.

With the rest of the cast backing these three up (including the surprising return of an old foe in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)), the camaraderie between them all is evident. Newcomer Yun-Fat Chow (and the rest of the new pirates), know they aren’t a part of this group, and keep themselves at a bit of a distance in Pirates of the Caribbean 3. While Yun-Fat does a better-than-expected job of being a pirate, his character is not given enough depth for the viewer to really connect with him – and he seems to notice. In fact, he’s only around for one reason. Once that reason is played out, the viewer will find him easily forgettable, but he does play his part.

The biggest disappointment of Pirates Of The Caribbean 3, however, lies with another casting choice: Keith Richards. While his performance in the film has gotten the most publicity, his actual appearance in the film is so brief (and so utterly pointless), it’s obviously just for show. A pity, since they could have done so much more with the character, rather than making him just an obvious publicity stunt to draw attention to the film.

With the old friends from the previous films at hand, any plot would do, as long as it’s full of swashbuckling fun and adventure. However, the storyline of Pirates of the Caribbean 3 winds through so many twists and turns, it’s almost as if the filmmakers are playing mind games with the audience. While most films would have gotten the viewers lost in this maze of twists, the film manages to keep most up to speed, but leaving the viewers questioning some of the choices the characters are making. “Is Jack Sparrow actually more intelligent than anyone gives him credit for?” the movie seems to be asking…but then ends up not really ever answering it’s own question.

What Pirates of the Caribbean 3 does nicely, however, is wrap up the loose threads from the first 2 films – even a few that the viewer possibly hadn’t realized were loose threads. At the same time, it manages to add in a tease for a possible sequel.

And, even if that sequel is never made, it lets the audience picture the cast continuing on their high seas adventures, a little worse for wear possibly, but still ready to take on all comers. And, while there are a few deaths that may come as a shock to some, this film series has already proved that death – among this crew at any rate – doesn’t have to be forever…

All in all, Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End, while paling in comparison before the original, is a decent conclusion to a fun trilogy of films. And, while it may daunt a few potential audience-goers with it’s 2 hour and 45 minute run time, most should enjoy this ending….while holding out hope that there is a new beginning waiting further down the road.

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