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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Apparently Underwhelming Summer Sequels Also Happen In Threes"
2 stars

As I was heading into the theater for the screening of “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” the presumed concluding chapter to perhaps the most unlikely blockbuster movie series of all time, I was given a note by one of the publicists imploring me to “not reveal the many plot resolutions that occur throughout the film, completing the characters’ story lines from the previous two films in the series.” Fat chance of that happening. Even after sitting through all 168 minutes and taking voluminous notes on all the proceedings, there are so many double-crosses, reversals of fortune, shifts of loyalties and loose ends to be tied up–not to mention new characters and plot developments being introduced amidst all the chaos–that I am unsure that I could even accurately recount the basic plot, let alone offer spoilers.

Having deposited the flamboyant Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and his beloved Black Pearl into oblivion at the hands of the vile Kraken at the conclusion of “Dead Man’s Chest,” young lovers Will Scarlett (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), along with the crew of the Black Pearl, the sexy sorceress Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) and the recently revived Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), kick this installment off by traveling to Singapore in search of the feared Asian pirate lord Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat) and a map in his possession that can help them retrieve Sparrow and bring him back to the land of the living. It seems in the interim between the two films, the vile Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander), the representative of the East India Trading Company, has formed an unholy alliance with the equally vile Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) in a final grand effort to rid the seas of piracy once and for all. The only thing that can possibly stop this is if the nine Pirate Lords, one of whom is Sparrow, band together as one and unleash the power contained in their mysterious pieces-of-eight to make a final stand to protect their cheerfully peculiar way of life.

Of course, as anyone who has seen the previous “POTC” films no doubt knows, this is easier said than done. For starters, Sparrow and Barbossa are at odds as to who should be in charge of the Black Pearl and wind up in a running contest to see which one is packing the bigger spyglass. As for Will, who is already working under the mistaken impression that Elizabeth is in love with Sparrow because he saw her kiss him without realizing that it was a ruse to save his life, it turns out that he is perfectly willing to sell out his comrades in order to buy the freedom of his long-lost father, the eternally damned sailor Bootstrap Bill Turner (Stellan Skarsgard). With complications like these, the process of getting the nine pirate lords to pull themselves together and elect a single Pirate King to lead them into battle is actually the least complicated issue on the film’s agenda.

When “Dead Man’s Chest” came out last summer, critics and audiences were relatively entertained with the proceedings but most of them agreed that at 150 minutes, it was perhaps too long and too convoluted for its own good, especially when you considered that it was only telling half of a story. Based on the evidence supplied by “At World’s End,” it appears that if director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer actually took notice of these complaints amidst all of the notices of toppled box-office records, they must have heard them on Opposite Day and determined that people actually wanted the next film to be even longer and more convoluted than before. You would think that just trying to wrap up the storylines from the previous installments in a vaguely coherent manner would be enough of a challenge but the film decides to compound things by introducing new characters and plot threads into the mix just as we are trying to remind ourselves of where we left off last summer. (Not only does “At World’s End” assume that you have seen the previous films, it assumes that you watched both of them no later than five minutes before arriving at the multiplex.) Maybe I wouldn’t have minded this so much if these last-minute additions if they had really added anything of value to the proceedings but they don’t–the much-hyped appearance of HK legend Chow Yun-Fat turns out to add up to little more than a couple of scenes that fail to take advantage of his considerable magnetism. Then there is the subplot involving a previously unheralded supporting character who is now revealed to carry mystical powers that could either help the pirates during the final battle or destroy them completely–if this particular twist had been even slightly alluded to in the earlier films, I might not have minded it so much but as it plays, it just seems like another narrative mix-in tossed into a concoction already so overstuffed that you barely even notice it. Coming on the heels of the dramatic wheel-spinning that marked most of “Dead Man’s Chest,” even the most indulgent fans of the series (not counting those who own stock in Disney) may find themselves wishing that the filmmakers had trimmed all the fat from the two sequels and simply made one knockout film instead of two bloated ones.

Of course, narrative is hardly the only aspect of the film that appears to be working under the assumption that too much is never enough. Perhaps realizing that they were is a position to do whatever they wanted and to spend as much as possible since “At World’s End” is practically guaranteed to be one of the most financially successful films ever made, the filmmakers have essentially decided to do whatever they wanted and to spend as much as humanly possible. At times, it feels as if every single scene in the film is trying to be the biggest, loudest and flashiest thing ever committed to film and sequences that might have served as an eye-popping climax in your average tentpole blockbuster–such as the sequence in which our heroes literally sail over the edge of the world–are almost treated as throwaways here. The problem, as anyone who saw “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” can attest, is that it is almost impossible for a movie that consists of nothing but peak moments to sustain its energy for more than an hour or so before the energy begins to flag. Before long, “At World’s End” succumbs to that sense of overkill and not even the sight of a massive and climactic sea battle/swordfight set in the midst of a raging storm and whirlpool is enough to quite rouse viewers who have been cinematically pummeled for the previous 2 ½ hours. (Just in case you were trying to make sure, the very same critic who has used this space in the past to rave about the works of Luc Besson, Leos Carax and Brian De Palma and who considers Steven Spielberg’s grossly underrated blow-out “1941" one of the funniest movies ever made is accusing “At World’s End” of succumbing to overkill.)

The weariness in the audience is more than matched by the weariness of most of the actors on the screen–what once must have seemed like a lark to them now comes across as drudgery that they evidently can’t wait to get away from for good. Of course, I may just be projecting some of this since much of this film was shot at the same time as “Dead Man’s Chest” but you get the sense that most of the actors are just going through the motions. Keira Knightley is still sexy and spunky enough but the spark that she brought to her character in the first film has long since disappeared. Geoffrey Rush gets a few nice moments here and there but there is hardly any real reason for his character to even appear this time around. Even the considerable efforts of Johnny Depp, whose singular performance as Captain Jack Sparrow has already gone down in the annals of film history as one of the most fearlessly flaky turns ever captured by a camera, aren’t enough this time around–the joke of his addled character is still good for a few laughs but like most jokes that are being told for the third time, it simply lacks the zest and surprise that it once held. On the other hand, Orlando Bloom–whose basic function in the earlier films was to play the bland hero that no one notices amidst all the other colorful characters–actually gets to do a little more this time around and his relief at finally serving a function other than playing the other white meat adds a little juice to his scenes for a while before he too gets subsumed by the chaos surrounding him.

Amidst all that chaos, I will admit that “At World’s End” contains a few redeeming graces–the chief ones being some funny visual gags here and there (especially a bit in which Keira Knightley’s character is frisked for weapons and is revealed to be packing more heat than she did in “Domino”), some equally amusing tidbits involving a hallucinating Capt. Sparrow and the fact that the film as a whole isn’t quite as bad as fellow threequels “Spider-Man 3" and “Shrek the Third.” The real high point of the film, the element that I can see myself revisiting once it hits DVD and I can simply hit fast-forward, is the delicious cameo appearance from Keith Richards as Sparrow’s father, another legendary pirate. He only appears for a couple of minutes but he has the kind of presence that cuts through all the tricked-out nonsense on the screen to such a degree that you cannot take your eyes off of him. (Even Johnny Depp, who has often claimed that Richards was the chief inspiration for his portrayal of Sparrow in the first place, seems immune to his charisma–he essentially lets his hero take over the scene while he just stands there in awe as he did with Jerry Lewis in “Arizona Dream” and Marlon Brando in “Don Juan De Marco.”) As ironic as it may sound, it turns out that Keith Richards, that most cadaverous of celebrities, is the only person involved in the entire enterprise who is able to supply it with a genuine spark of life when he is on the screen.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15536&reviewer=389
originally posted: 05/25/07 00:09:10
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User Comments

3/03/19 Craptain Jacques Sbarro Mess of a movie. Here's an idea: cut out the filler from 2 and 3 and edit them into 1 movie 2 stars
9/16/12 roscoe overlong, no interest, no new elements, stale, hard to watch. 3 stars
3/03/10 dude too long boring confusing and talky 5 stars
6/08/09 freak boring as hell 1 stars
1/20/09 Anonymous. a little messy but sweet and sad ending. 4 stars
12/19/08 Scott kiera knightly is sooo hot in this film 5 stars
11/30/08 Roz Not as good as the 1st. Plot was an absolute mess and hard to follow. 2 stars
11/30/08 noops.... better than the 2 nd one but the first part was too good 4 stars
11/11/08 Michael M Elizabeth was the main character instead of Sparrow, and that's where this movie failed. 2 stars
10/09/08 man hated it 1 stars
9/16/08 Oiman Amazing music, action, and overall story. Callpso scene was unimaginative though. 4 stars
4/30/08 Charles Tatum Bloated but fun...like your mom 4 stars
3/09/08 RK notwithstanding the confusing twists and turns, it was fun to watch --- twice in a roll. 4 stars
2/15/08 daveyt confusing twaddle 1 stars
1/25/08 man boring overlong and reeeaaallly confusing 1 stars
1/15/08 Dani I love these movies. Great acting, amazing plot, hilarious dialogue, and hot actors. 5 stars
1/04/08 Pamela White vague plot but cute the movies are getting worse 3 stars
1/04/08 Ellen Tedious and unoriginal, very disappointing. 2 stars
12/29/07 Austin Wertman talky, too long, and confusing 3 stars
12/16/07 Jason Great action movie, cool characters and epic finale. 5 stars
12/07/07 zenny whatta mess 1 stars
11/28/07 Matt About 15 mins of good stuff and a ton of utter rubbish. Enough now-PLEASE! 2 stars
11/26/07 dude not nearly as good as the first two 1 stars
11/13/07 dude bland adn dissapointing 1 stars
10/09/07 Mango Waay too long and absolute waste of time. Hugely disappointed. 1 stars
10/02/07 wall dont bother 1 stars
10/01/07 Andrew Kercher Best SFX of 3, but 1st was the best overall. This one better than Pirates 2. 4 stars
9/13/07 dude waste of time 1 stars
8/30/07 fallon best movie i every seen and its not a waste of time 5 stars
7/26/07 pheonix not as wonderful as the lord of the rings, But , it is the best since then.. great movie! 5 stars
7/19/07 samantha this movie was the best of the three!! it was awesome!!! 5 stars
7/09/07 tom No story, way too convienent saves, more contrived than WWF. Depp's first sell out. 2 stars
7/03/07 kirsti this movie tied w/ pirates 1 as my favorite movie ever!!! lovelovelove this!!! 5 stars
7/03/07 PamE Loved it, though not as much as the 1st and 2nd 4 stars
7/01/07 RazorFang Peter Sobzcynski, you fucking idiot,this is a damn good movie! 5 stars
6/21/07 Dave bad 1 stars
6/18/07 lkeyser was awesome,looking forward to 4th one! 5 stars
6/17/07 Joe Smaltz fell asleep, but the damn cannons kept waking me up! 1 stars
6/16/07 Ron Newbold Excellent effects, Great cast, decent movie - the first is still the best IMO 4 stars
6/15/07 Qume Ah hah ha hah ha ha hahaha ha haha! 1 stars
6/14/07 romeo awsome movie ...people saying it bad hav no rights to watch eng movies.. 5 stars
6/11/07 Emily Brilliant. Sexy. Fantastic and stunning. Constantly keeps you in total AWE and is a blast!! 5 stars
6/10/07 Brian Mckay Stunning visuals, but a bloated incomprehensible mess. Verbinski, learn to fucking EDIT! 2 stars
6/10/07 Alice Beautiful settings but 3 movies is enough 4 stars
6/09/07 Jenna Walker I thought this movie was epic! Amazing! 5 stars
6/06/07 carl blast, xcellent, be rested non stop fun, super acting, lovely everything, wonderful, yeswow 5 stars
6/05/07 cher5253 Great movie can't follow plot try easier movies where everything is predictable 5 stars
6/03/07 COTBP was excellent, DMC was better,AWE tops them both put together Reesefire Black 5 stars
6/02/07 Zaw I didn't care what happens to any of the charaters. Marriage thing during battle was stupid 2 stars
6/02/07 lab chimp good but not great. worth the money for the special effects, acting v good, gusto-less plot 4 stars
6/02/07 Luji funny, emotional, hot hot actors...nice tie up of the multiple plots...loved it! 5 stars
6/02/07 Heidi Hernandez Excellant fantasy action packed adventure love story with just the right amount of humor 5 stars
5/31/07 Ole Man Bourbon Too short. I felt cheated. 3 stars
5/31/07 Katie Amazing movie.....best trilogy i've ever seen!! JOhnny Depp is brilliant as Jack Sparrow!! 5 stars
5/30/07 lauren i LOVED this movie how could u not it was action packed and has 2 of the hottest guys in it 5 stars
5/30/07 damalc not nearly enough sword fighting for a pirate film. better than 2, not as good as 1. 3 stars
5/30/07 Scott Vine Waste of 3 hrs. Big let down. Nothing new 1 stars
5/29/07 DS Better than the second, as good as the first! Please let there be another one! 5 stars
5/29/07 JP Great! Dont bitch about how confusing it was. Annoying children w/ your insignificant minds 5 stars
5/29/07 Dk better than the convuluted 2nd but still can't match number 1's charm 4 stars
5/28/07 Kurt I didn't care what heppened to any of them. what a mess! 1 stars
5/28/07 Jack Sparrow If you love adventure and swashbuckling battles watch this....If you don't, Bugger off 5 stars
5/28/07 ad the sequels made the first movie mortal, What a waste for such great actors! Wait for DVD. 2 stars
5/28/07 Ryan AAAWesome 5 stars
5/28/07 Jim Overlong and noisy, and Calypso isn't a goddess, she's a nymph 2 stars
5/27/07 Chris Thought the movie was the best so far and can't wait for the next one to come out. 5 stars
5/27/07 Pipina Truly great. But you have to love Pirates... 5 stars
5/27/07 Kate Was Will and Elizabeths son the boy from the beginning? 5 stars
5/27/07 Sasa If you love BAD movies you will love this. 1 stars
5/27/07 Dark Enchantress it was good expect it was confusing and had to much of kiera knightly...i hate her 4 stars
5/27/07 MP Bartley Fun, but WAY to much. Did they forget Depp is the star? 3 stars
5/26/07 kathryn was a little confusing and was more of an action packed film with tons of special effects. 5 stars
5/26/07 gr117 A total blast! 5 stars
5/26/07 devil/angel This film rocks i dont get wat u guys are on about this rocks! 5 stars
5/26/07 KingNeutron Best movie of the year so far. KRichards was very natural in the role. 5 stars
5/26/07 Emma Spectacular movie. Absolutely fantastic, loved it... Pure fun. 5 stars
5/26/07 Blondie This should have come with directions to understand it 3 stars
5/25/07 Mike Very confusing but something to do for 3 hours. Spiderman3 is way better tho. 3 stars
5/25/07 Cory The script's a mess in some parts and yet, the film works...much better than Spider-Man 3. 4 stars
5/25/07 Desperado I really am having trouble understanding why people didnt like it, i thought it was awesome 5 stars
5/25/07 PoisonElf No sense, no inspiration (same charaers/story as 2), unreasonably long, boring. 1 stars
5/25/07 Quigley One of the biggest disappointments ever. Great visuals, but the movie makes no sense at all 2 stars
5/25/07 Chris Pirates of the Carribean ROCKS!!!!!!! FOLKS 5 stars
5/25/07 Ara I can't understand how people dont understand this movie. Anyway gr8 movie! 5 stars
5/25/07 Sir spam-a-lot Okay, I shot myself. What now? 3 stars
5/25/07 Burnsy Yarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, me's a pirate. 5 stars
5/25/07 Snail This movie was EPIC. A lot more fun than Spider-Man 3 too. 5 stars
5/24/07 John I had no idea what the hell was going on 3 stars
5/24/07 Blizz Please, these movies are for morons. If you go see this, shoot yourself. 1 stars
5/24/07 Scott haller jack sparrow is hot 5 stars
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  24-May-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 04-Dec-2007



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