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PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Stellan Skarsgaard, Bill Nighy, Chow Yun-Fat, Geoffrey Rush, Jack Davenport, Kevin McNally, Jonathan Pryce
Director: Gore Verbinski
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Disney
Features: See Review
Length: 169 Minutes
Release Date: December 4, 2007

“Nobody move! I dropped me brain.”

Film **1/2

The hugely successful movie franchise, whose first installment was The Curse of the Black Pearl, has now fallen under the Curse of the Three-quel. After the disappointments in both Spider-Man 3 and Shrek the Third, I was praying that the third chapter in the Pirates of the Caribbean series wouldn’t fail to disappoint, especially since the first two movies were so phenomenally entertaining. Unfortunately, the result of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End was a mixed bag, and being that this was intended as the conclusion of the film series, the results should’ve been much better than mixed.

Watching this third chapter, I was largely reminded of my reaction to The Matrix Revolutions. I had made it through two fantastic pieces of popcorn entertainment in the form of the first two films, only to be less than enthralled in the very installment where so much excitement should be displayed. As it turned out, getting to this point was a whole lot more fun than experiencing it.

The main problem with At World’s End is that it has way too much plot build up, and the movie happens to clock in very close to three hours. And yet, the movie’s final hour is phenomenally executed, with the effortless action and breathtaking effects we come to expect from the Pirates movies. But the first two movies had those qualities going on from beginning to end, and both of those were two and a half hours long.

The movie picks up right where Dead Man’s Chest left off (both sequels were filmed back to back). Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp, brilliant as always in his definitive role) is locked inside the dreaded locker belonging to the squid/human Davy Jones (Bill Nighy). Now the unlikely trio of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and the newly resurrected Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) are planning an attempt to rescue Jack by traveling to the land beyond death.

And other characters are brought into the mix. There’s Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat) from the Orient whose presence is requested in helping to rescue Jack. Then there’s the case of the mysterious Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris), who helped in the resurrecting of Captain Barbossa, but may have some deadly intentions of her own.

Being a die hard fan of the first two movies, I found it nearly a drag to sit through the uneven first hour and 45 minutes of this installment. There are some neat bits, like the scenes that have Captain Jack talking to hallucinations of himself. But prior to the movie’s rousing final hour, all we are treated to is endless exposition and plot setup and very little in the way of action and razor sharp wit.

And the endless exposition brings with it another problem in that there are too many confusing plot elements that occur along the way. Characters turn against each other countless times to the point we’re not sure who are the good guys and bad guys. And they’re reasons for turning on each other are never fully explained, at least not very coherently.

Now I happen to like Dead Man’s Chest a lot, but it did have its share of detractors. And while it does serve as mainly a transition between The Curse of the Black Pearl and At World’s End, I admired its nonstop action approach, with constant thrills for it’s entire 150 minute running time. In the end, I think, it might have worked out better for the trilogy if the second movie had more of the build up and plot exposition and if the third movie had the roller coaster execution of the Dead Man’s Chest.

However, just like the first two movies, this is a spectacular looking production to say the least. Director Gore Verbinski once again delivers many intriguing visuals and an array of striking special effects sequences. And Johnny Depp is as solid as always with a one of a kind wit that only he can bring to the table.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is hardly a bad film, but it falls just a bit short of the first two movies in terms of pacing and quality.

BONUS: Keith Richards pops up in very role he was expected to play; Captain Jack’s father.

Video ****

No surprise here as the look of this Disney release matches the video performance of the first two movies thoroughly. The equal mixture of light and dark sets provide some truly outstanding looking shots, which appear phenomenal in this presentation. The anamorphic picture is clear and crisp from beginning to end and colors are nothing short of magnificent.

Audio ****

The 5.1 mix is astounding, to say the least. Every sound aspect you’ve come to expect from this franchise is at its highest quality. Once again, Hans Zimmer’s score is delivered in pure, fantastic form. And then the last hour rolls in to truly knock ones socks off with nonstop action that will work your channels to death!

Features ***1/2

A single disc edition will also be available, but this 2-Disc Limited Edition is the one to go with because it will indeed be available for only a limited time!

Disc One includes a gag reel titled “Bloopers of the Caribbean”.

Disc Two contains the rest of the extras, or “booty” as I should properly phrase it. Included are Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by director Gore Verbinski. There’s also many a featurette, including “Keith and the Captain: On the Set with Johnny and the Rock Legend”, “The Tale of Many Jacks”, “The World of Chow Yun-Fat”, “The Pirate Maestro: The Music of Hans Zimmer”, “Masters of Design” (A Five Part Documentary), “Hoist the Colors” and finally there’s the interactive game, “Inside the Brethren Court”.

Summary:

Though I haven’t lost my admiration for the franchise in any way, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is a step back for me after the sensational entertainment value of the first two movies. The last hour nearly saves it, but the first hour and 40 something minutes is quite a test to get through.

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