Written by Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio
Directed by Gore Verbinski
Running Time: 2:48
for intense sequences of action/adventure
violence and some frightening images.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End wasn't the all-out spectacular I had hoped for, but it was entertaining and visually stunning.
When we last saw the motley crew of characters, Lord Beckett had taken control of Davy Jones's heart and therefore, control of the oceans. Using the Flying Dutchman as his ultimate weapon, Beckett is ridding the world of pirates. The only way to end his reign of terror is to have the nine Pirate Lords get together and either fight as one, or unleash the hidden power of the Gods. But one of the nine Pirate Lords is none other than Captain Jack Sparrow who was taken into the depths of Davy Jones's locker. Elizabeth Swann, Will Turner and Captain Barbossa endure a harrowing journey to the end of the world to try and save Captain Jack. But everyone is only really looking out for their own agendas. Through various twists and turns, changing loyalties, and lots of rum, the battle for control of the seas will end once and for all. But which side will survive?
The first film, The Curse of the Black Pearl was a surprise hit when it came out. A movie based on a Disney theme park ride didn't really have much buzz about it, but with an iconic performance from Johnny Depp, and a truly fun adventure story, the movie became legend. This of course led to the greenlighting of not one, but two sequels. Last summer's Dead Man's Chest was first out of the gates, and made even more money, even though the movie had lost its originality. What it did have going for it however was some fantastic visual effects with Davy Jones and his crew, and the best fight sequence in all three films. Easily my favorite moment out of the trilogy so far was the 3-way fight between Jack, Will and Norrington which featured the swordfight on the wheel. It was a perfect combination of action, special effects and humor, which is the hallmark of these films. And let's not forget, that entire sequence was intercut with Elizabeth having her own sword battles. All in all, that 10 minute segment might be one of my favorite moments in any movie I've ever seen.
What At World's End lacks is an 'it' moment like that. The movie clocks in at over 160 minutes, and for the first two hours, there is very little action. There may have been one or two times where there was some fighting or an explosion or two, but for the most part, the movie concentrates on the story. And while the story is interesting, it can get a little confusing and let's face it, these movies are entertaining because of the action and the effects, not the story. That being said, the last 40 minutes of the film were as fun and entertaining a 40 minutes as you'll find this summer, and since it comes at the end of the movie, people will leave the theaters feeling happy. What I did notice however was that for the most part the fights were large group fights. There was no Will vs. Jack swordfight in a shed, or the 3-way fight in the second film. There was a small one-on-one between Jack and Davy Jones, but it was in the middle of a larger brawl and kind of got lost.
As far as the characters go, Johnny Depp's role in these films has been diminishing. In the second film there were large chunks where he'd disappear, and the movie felt like it was more about Will and his father than it was about Jack. In At World's End it felt like the movie was more the story of Elizabeth and her rise into power. Jack wasn't around for the beginning of the film, and when we first meet him, he's gone almost completely insane. It's a very surreal experience actually because when we first see him, we see many hims. And that'll make more sense when you see the film. I felt like I was watching an experimental film from a first time director, rather than a rollicking pirate adventure. Keira Knightley stepped up her game this time around, exuding more sexuality than before, but also a harder edge. Orlando Bloom looked much meaner than before. His character probably changed the most from film to film, going from a lovesick puppy, to a true pirate looking out for his best interests. Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa was probably the one character who stayed true to form throughout. No matter what the situation, he was ready with a joke. Bill Nighy's Davy Jones wasn't around as much this time out, but the effects to make him were as astounding as ever. The rest of the cast was fun as well, including the much rumored appearance of Keith Richards as Captain Jack's father (and Captain Jack's mother makes an even briefer appearance.)
The special effects were, as always, top notch. And the greatest thing about this film was the atmosphere. The visual qualities and the ability to make you feel like you were right there in the middle of everything was incredible. Visually these films will go down in history as being some of the most amazing films ever. The 40 minute end sequence was a non-stop battle-filled extravaganza that takes place on the high seas and will have you on the edge of your seat. If only the first two hours of the movie could have featured a couple of fun-filled fights, this could have been the capper to a great series. As it stands, they leave the door open for more if everyone decides to come back for another go-around. And remember to stay in your seats through the credits, as there are a couple of more minutes at the end.
This movie is the only one so far where I've enjoyed it more on DVD than I did in theaters. I think one of the problems when I saw it originally is that I was extremely hyped up for it and it didn't reach the levels of the previous two films. But this time I had more fun because I knew what I was in store for, so the lack of action until the ending didn't bother me. It allowed me to pay more attention to the story (subtitles help by the way) and get lost in the amazing look of the film. Visually the film holds up very well on the small screen and you can notice smaller details that were lost in theaters.
The Two-Disc Limited Edition DVD comes with a lot of extras. The first disc only holds some bloopers, which were pretty funny. The second disc holds everything else. There's a short behind-the-scenes documentary focusing on Keith Richards. What I loved most about that is hearing Keith speak in his real voice, followed quickly by hearing Johnny Depp speak in character and realizing how closely they resemble each other. There's a rather long documentary on the special effects, focusing mostly on the Maelstrom sequence, which was easily the highlight of the film. It's extraordinary the amount of work that went into just that 20 minute segment. There are two deleted scenes that didn't serve much purpose, but made me wonder why they weren't just left in the final cut. They total about a minute, and considering how long the movie is, I can't imagine they were cut for time. There are a few other documentaries dealing with Chow Yun-Fat, musical director Hans Zimmer and some of the people responsible for the costumes/sets and other visual treats. There's also a cool one on the Pirate Brethren Court which was fun. And lastly what amazed me the most about all of the documentaries is that no matter what aspect of the film they dealt with, director Gore Verbinski was right in the middle of everything. It made me realize just how much work a director puts into a film. The Two-Disc Limited Edition is definitely a DVD to pick up.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I liked Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End even though I didn't think it was as good as the previous two films in the series. The first two hours was much too story heavy, but the last 40 minutes makes it worthwhile. I for one am hoping they come back one last time, and make the ultimate Pirates film.
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