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The Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy: The Curse of the Black Pearl - 2-Disc CE3-Disc Gift Set / Dead Man's Chest / At World's End

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Movie Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End movie poster - click to buy Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Theatrical Release: May 24, 2007 / Running Time: 168 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Gore Verbinski

Cast: Johnny Depp (Captain Jack Sparrow), Geoffrey Rush (Captain Barbossa), Orlando Bloom (Will Turner), Keira Knightley (Elizabeth Swann), Jack Davenport (Jack Norrington), Bill Nighy (Captain Davy Jones), Jonathan Pryce (Governor Weatherby Swann), Lee Arenberg (Pintel), Mackenzie Crook (Ragetti), Kevin R. McNally (Gibbs), David Bailie (Cotton), Stellan Skarsgård (Bootstrap Bill Turner), Tom Hollander (Cutler Beckett), Naomie Harris (Tia Dalma), Martin Klebba (Marty), David Schofield (Mercer), Lauren Maher (Scarlett), Chow Yun-Fat (Captain Sao Feng), Keith Richards (Captain Teague)

The Art of Pirates of the Caribbean
Hardcover, 160 pages, Disney Editions

Chinese actor plays Sao Feng, a pirate based in Singapore.

Bring Me That Horizon: The Making of the Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy
Hardcover, 160 pages, Disney Editions

Lee Arenberg returns as Pintel, who throws his name into captain consideration in "At World's End."

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Black Pearl - A Pop-Up Pirate Ship
Disney Press, 4 pages

Orlando Bloom makes a "dreamy" pose in character as Will Turner.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Blu-ray Disc)
2-Disc Set, Brand New

Tom Hollander plays Cutler Beckett, an East India Trading Company lord with a distaste for pirates.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Storybook with Compass
Reader's Digest, 40 pages
Hardcover with Compass Viewer

Apple iTunes- Spiderman 3

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Video Game (PlayStation 2)
Also available for Xbox 360, Windows XP, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, and Nintendo Wii

"This is a mess." David Hasselhoff's Internet-circulating review of an uncooperative Wendy's hamburger is also perhaps the best way to succinctly assess Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

Arriving less than a year after the record-breaking Dead Man's Chest, this third installment of Disney's blockbuster adventure series offers more of the same --
double-crossing characters, elaborate state-of-the-art visual effects, general busyness, and plenty of idiosyncrasies. The feeling of "been there, done that" is amplified all the more by this sequel's bloated runtime, which is just a shade under 3 hours.

Things open in Singapore, where resurrected Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), and their nigh-untrackable lot of oddball pirates turn to Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat) for help in locating Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), last seen being devoured by legendary sea monster the Kraken. The efforts of Barbossa and company, soon joined by Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris), to rescue Captain Jack are instantly complicated by murky motives and the arrival of the East India Trading Company, headed by boring antagonist Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander).

Chow Yun-Fat joins the "Pirates of the Caribbean" cast as Singaporean pirate lord Sao Feng. "More steam!" Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) are on the same side in "At World's End." Or are they?

The journey to Davy Jones' Locker proves moderately compelling, though what awaits there raises the franchise to new heights of silliness. Johnny Depp turns in a mere caricature of his earlier performances, this time sharing the screen with countless clones of himself à la Michael Keaton in Multiplicity. Between this over-employed device and the central practice of bringing dead characters back to life, the word "uninspired" inevitably comes to mind.

What ensues next incorporates all parties, including: the squid-like Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), who is given a romantic back-story as his heart literally continues to pass hands in a locked chest; Will's father Bootstrap Bill (Stellan Skarsgård), who with the passage of time is losing his memory and physically becoming part of Jones' hellish Flying Dutchman ship; and Elizabeth's near-fiancé James Norrington (Jack Davenport), a morally ambiguous figure made extraneous by the years' various cast expansions.

Slow-paced and not very lively, it's rather disappointing to see the once-fresh Pirates franchise hobble to its (likely momentary) conclusion. For a movie so long in development that's spending so many millions of dollars on production and promotion, it's amazing that all of the people involved couldn't see where they went wrong here and corrected themselves. There is no change of personnel to cite; blame therefore must go to producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Gore Verbinski, and writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, who all, perhaps understandably, have developed this universe, to massively positive public approval, into something so big and lucrative that they can't possibly see it out in a coherent, satisfactory fashion.

Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris), and Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) stop, collaborate, and listen, respectively. Back from the dead, Captain Jack is a little confused about the present state of things.

At World's End feels closer to its immediate predecessor than The Curse of the Black Pearl, the original, subtitled-at-the-last-moment film that was embraced beyond all expectations in the summer of 2003.
That's somewhat attributable to the fact that World's End was written and partially shot at the same time as Dead Man's Chest. While able to stand on its own, World's End builds upon elements introduced in the second film and places a fair value on its humor abilities, with extremely calculated comic relief gags divided among animals (the Capuchin monkey Jack and Cotton's unnamed Macaw parrot) and misfits (the goofy duo of Pintel and Ragetti played by Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook, Martin Klebba's vertically-challenged Marty) alike.

The worst way in which World's End is similar to Dead Man's, however, is in its manufactured nature. The movie seems consciously designed to ensure repeat theater trips to pick up on everything in play. At any given point during the film, one is apt to ask "What the heck is going on exactly?" and get nowhere. "Who's betraying who?" The real question is "Why should we care?" The Bruckheimer style of moviemaking -- where only the rare shot can last more than four seconds -- collides with Elliott and Rossio's script, yielding something replete with both plot particulars and vagaries.

Pintel (Lee Arenberg) and Ragetti (Mackenzie Crook) are asked to provide laughs and they reliably deliver. Bootstrap Bill Turner (Stellan Skarsgård) has seen better days than growing barnacles on Davy Jones'

Like Dead Man's Chest, the movie picks up the slack a bit near the end, but this time it's not enough to overlook the dull, deliberately confusing happenings before.

More At World's End
Posters and Memorabilia
Once again much too long, the film deals us a large majority that feels disposable, not to mention repetitive and noisy. The editing style makes the film feel even longer than it really is; I can't remember ever checking a watch so many times during a movie. When all is said and done, reflection reveals that no character out of the vast cast and no idea out of the countless bandied around really hits its mark or receives sufficient time and treatment. How is this possible on a movie which feels like it runs forever?

As long as there's billions of dollars to be made, I'm sure Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer will keep on churning out more Pirates movies, regardless of what they now say. After being disappointed by but tolerant of Dead Man's Chest and feeling even more let down by At World's End, I only hope that any further follow-ups will be dictated by worthy ideas and not merely a financial demand. While no film really needs a sequel (and crafting the last one for such still feels cheap), I really think more organic, restrained Pirates sequels would have been a good thing. Choreographing such elaborate money-makers has left me not caring about the fates of any/all the characters, even those I enjoyed getting to know less than four years ago.

Nine pirate lords form the Brethren of the Coast -- the Pirates' equivalent of the heads of the Five Families -- which gathers together in one of the less sensible sequences of "At World's End." Davy Jones is back and he's not Monkee-ing around! Bill Nighy plays the octopus-like captain of the underworld with extreme visual effects.

By the time you're allowed to read this, screenings of At World's End will have already started, beginning 8 PM Thursday night at select theaters. As much as I wish it weren't the case, I'm sure that box office records will be set and that many flocking moviegoers will be able to overlook the movie's numerous flaws. They'll roast critics, fall for the hype, and be back in line before long to see it again. That's fine. Getting excited about a big movie is great fun and I can think of many worse things to spend one's money on. It's just a little sad that the Disney studio's all-time biggest hits and my favorite of all theme park rides will both be tainted by the flaws of two overblown sequels for a very long time to come.

NOTE: Like the previous two Pirates films, this one contains a scene at the end of the end credits. Unlike the last two, however, this is more of a conclusion than a throwaway joke (though it's still slightly funny in an unintentional way), so you may wish to endure the long scroll of names to see it.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Soundtrack
Score by Hans Zimmer
CD, Disney Records

Geoffrey Rush has been in all three Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but his work in "At World's End" is much more substantial than his brief turn in "Dead Man's Chest."

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide
Featuring All 3 Movies
DK Books, 104 pages

Mackenzie Crook (BBC's "The Office") once again portrays Ragetti, the pirate with the glass right eye.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: Junior Novelization
Disney Press, 160 pages

Keira Knightley is Elizabeth Swann, who becomes a captain and a pirate king in "At World's End."

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Blu-ray Disc)
2-Disc Set, Brand New

Naomie Harris' Tia Dalma has a huge alternate identity to reveal and some crabby feelings to let out.

Apple iTunes

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Action Figures (Wave 1)
24 characters, 3" each

Related Reviews:
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (3-Disc DVD)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2-Disc DVD)
Meet the Robinsons (Movie) • Bridge to Terabithia (Movie)

Related Interview:
Click to read UD's exclusive interview with Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, the writers of all three "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.
UD talks with the writers of all 3 Pirates of the Caribbean movies

Related Countdowns:
Top 30 Live Action Disney Films of All-Time
Top 30 Disney Villains

Related Products - At World's End Tie-In Books:
The Art of At World's EndBring Me The Horizon: POTC - The Making of the Trilogy
POTC: AWE: Movie StorybookStorybook with Compass and Picture Viewer
Pirates Trilogy: The Complete Visual GuideA Pirate's Tale: Play Pack
Glow-in-the-Dark Sticker BookAt World's End Novelization
The Black Pearl: A Pop-Up Pirate ShipSaving Jack Sparrow
The Mystic's JourneyPOTC: AWE - Singapore!
Escape from Davy JonesThe Missing Pirate

Related Products - At World's End Toys:
Jack Sparrow with Transforming Crab & Navigational Chart
Pirate King Elizabeth Swann with Glowing Brethren Court Globe & Sword
Singapore Disguised Elizabeth Swann with Double Holster, Pistols & Asian Cloak
Prisoner Will Turner with Sword & Navigational Charts
Sao Feng with SwordGibbs with PistolNorrington with PistolMarty with Jack the Monkey
12-inch Jack Sparrow12-inch Will Turner

Reviewed May 25, 2007.