May 28, 2007
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)
When in 2002 rumors began to be spread about a movie based on Disneyland's classic dark ride, "Pirates of the Caribbean", nobody expected that any good would come out of it. However, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" was released and against all odds became a success that surpassed all the expectations. The movie, a tale of fantasy, romance and swashbuckling adventures that chronicled the escapades of a group of 18th Century pirates, earned both critical and commercial praise due to its fresh take on the genre. Due to its success, two back-to-back sequels were announced, both with the same cast and crew of the first film. The first of those sequels was "Dead Man's Chest", a film that while certainly lacked a lot of the original's power, started a new and interesting story arc that has its grand finale in "At World's End".
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" continues where the second part ended: with Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) making an uneasy alliance with former foe Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) in order to find a way to bring Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) back from "Davy Jones' Locker" the supernatural purgatory for those indentured to Davy Jones (Bill Nighy). The urgency of their mission comes from the fact that Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) of the East India Trading Company, has begun to purge pirates from the sea, organizing massive executions in an attempt to control worldwide sea trade. To face Beckett, the nine pirate lords must make up the Brethren Court, but since Sparrow, pirate lord of the Caribbean, was unable to appoint a successor, our friends must bring him back before its too late.
Once again, the film was written by Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, who continue the story arc that began in the previous film with an extremely detailed script that gives closure to many of the plots that were started by the previous two films. To do this, the writers employ a series of convoluted twists and turns that further explore the now complicated relationships between our heroes, who not only must survive Beckett's attacks, but also the consequences of their own choices and betrayals. Unlike the second film, this film is more focused on the characters than on the action scenes, in an obvious attempt to add more character development this time; however, this doesn't mean that the movie lacks in the action department, as there is plenty of it through the film. Of course, the movie keeps good doses of that special touch of humor that has given the franchise a lot of its charm.
As in the previous two installments, director Gore Verbinski takes the helm again and brings this adventure come to life in a very visually appealing way. With an extreme care for details and a great eye for visual compositions, Verbinski creates a sequel that manages to overcome the disappointment of the previous film, returns the story to its roots and concludes the series on a high note. Keeping a good pace despite the long runtime, Verbinski adequately handles the dialog based scenes and the action sequences in a well balanced way (with much better results than in Part 2) that even his extensive use of the remarkable special effects doesn't come off as over the top. It is clear in this film that while a mostly visual director, Verbinski knows a thing or two about film history, as at times he manages to capture the feeling of those classics about pirates with Errol Flynn or Charles Laughton in the main roles.
By now it is more than clear that Johnny Depp's character, Captain Jack Sparrow, is the driving force of the film. Once again Depp becomes the quirky yet charming pirate with great ease and talent, delivering a terrific comedic performance that still remains fun after all those years. Orlando Bloom isn't that lucky, as while he has improved as an actor, the writers have left his character in a third position after Keira Knightley, who in this chapter gets a lot of screen time and carries a considerable part of the film alone. This would be good if it wasn't for the fact that Knightley isn't as accomplished as an actress as those around her, as not only Depp manages to overshadow her, but the combined presences of Geoffrey Rush, Bill Nighy and Yun-Fat Chow prove to be too much a challenge for her. Among the cast Rush is a real joy to watch, as he steals every scene he is in.
Sadly, despite the many improvements that "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" has over its predecessor, it is also plagued by some of the flaws that brought down "Dead Man's Chest". It's main flaw is probably the enormous dependence the film has on the charm that the character of Jack Sparrow has over the audience. The writers know that Sparrow is a fan favorite, so they put a lot of the film over his shoulders, which results in many great scenes with him, but also in the belittling of the rest of the characters. The convoluted plot will definitely turn some off, but I think that the complex storyline added a lot of much needed character development to the film, specially as it allowed some characters a small chance to shine. Finally, I will only add that the script gets corny and silly at times, but not too much to be a real bother.
While not exactly a great artistic accomplishment, "At World's End" is a roller-coaster of fun that despite its long runtime still manages to be entertaining. It is unknown what is ahead for the successful "Pirates" franchise, but one thing is clear for me: the story arc that began in "The Curse of the Black Pearl" has a find its finale in "At World's End". It may not be an entirely satisfying one but, fans of this series will probably be pleased.
Buy "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (2007)