Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Piratical Popcorn Flick

Main Cast: Johnny Depp, Keira Knightly, Orlando Bloom

Director: Gore Verbinski

Ah, the summer blockbuster. Not usually big on brains, but almost always packed with action; these are the movies we munch popcorn with while we pretend that summer still means something now that we’re not kids anymore. Pure escapism. Tossing in a pirate in the form of Johnny Depp adds a little lustful fantasy to the whole exercise – always welcome, thank you. So who could possibly resist the lure of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End? Not me…..

”Would you brave the weird and haunted shores at world’s end to fetch back wit’ ye Jack?” (our story)

So here we go, into the third installment of the massively successful Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. This time we’re going to be At World’s End, quite literally. Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) needs rescuing, and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) are on the job. They have some help from a couple of surprising sources revealed at the end of the second film – but I’m not spoiling that for you. Elizabeth is feeling guilty over her actions in the last installment, Will is peevish and jealous and all have motives that go far beyond any sort of beloved dedication to the King of Quirk, Cap’n Jack. We roll into our familiar piratical world as a change is coming, and it isn’t a change that’s good for our seafaring friends.

”I promise you will not be disappointed. Count on that!” (stuff I liked)

Eye candy!

Oh, yeah, it’s everywhere you turn. From the stunning special effects to the atmosphere laden initial scenes to the absolutely gorgeous footage of ships on the high seas, this film is shot with a no-holds-barred eye to the visual. While the battle scenes are not as intriguing as they might be if they were a bit less frenetic and slightly shorter, they’re still filled with swords-a-clashing, fancy foot work and loads of little details to make the observant chuckle or smile at the reference to earlier installments.

The creepy character make-up is back and as crusty and craggy as ever. Men who have become walking sea creatures pick up most of the character squickiness. The special effects blossom into the incredible in the battle scenes, with a few delicious stand-outs including a debris filled, slow motion sequence near the end of the film.

And of course there is the more earthly eye candy of both Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp (and Keira Knightly is as lovely as ever as well). Both fulfill their roles with the expected amounts of earnest goodness on the one hand and quirky skullduggery on the other (and kick butt girl power on the third). Both men are put on display with their assets firmly in place. Bloom is suitably serious and dashing and Depp is suitably odd and, as always, manages to make filth, bad teeth and chronic drunkenness drop dead sexy.

Piratical Consistency

I really love how all three installments of this series have given the pirates some complexity, especially Jack Sparrow. He is no Robin Hood with a heart of gold, he’s selfish, lacks basic hygiene skills, has seemingly boundless appetites for all things hedonistic and is never one to turn his back on a deal that may be to his benefit and others’ detriment. His flashes of apparent compassion and essential goodness are ambiguous – does he really care or is there something in it for him? It’s always a combination and I give the filmmakers credit for not watering down this aspect of the character in light of his massive popularity after the first two installments. It must have been very tempting to make him into a real “good guy” and they resisted, leaving him just as morally ambiguous in At World’s End as he is in Curse of the Black Pearl and Dead Man’s Chest. Moral ambiguity is always a proper trait in a pirate.

”Do you feel dead?” (stuff I didn’t like so much)


This is just a movie that didn’t need to be made. It reminds me in many ways of The Matrix, a perfectly fun and entertaining film in its own right, now marred by two unworthy sequels that stretched its once simple premise to ungainly proportions. The same thing happens here. By this third installment, the plot of the film has become convoluted and unwieldy, with those who haven’t seen the first two films likely to be completely lost by the entire proceedings. Frankly, a lot of the plot is boring.

Where’s my witty?

At World’s End lacks a lot of the humor of previous installments. Clocking in at over two and a half hours, the writers still didn’t give Jack Sparrow enough time to be oddly charming and disturbingly funny. Or maybe his character is just wearing thin after three movies. Whatever the case, there is more action and less verbal interplay this time around. Fun to watch, certainly, but not nearly as wickedly witty as I was hoping from Cap’n Jack.


There’s just too much going on here. Between the rapid fire dialogue in often difficult to understand accents and the myriad plot threads that the filmmakers are trying to tie together from all three films, it just gets out of control. It’s hard to keep track of who’s on which ship and why, who is allied with whom and how anyone knows who to stab or shoot. Though the pace isn’t altogether speedy, too much has been thrown into the pot and the result gets muddled far too often.

”Everything we’ve ever done has lead to this.” (in conclusion…)

Okay, I didn’t expect At World’s End to revive the brilliance of The Curse of the Black Pearl. That’s the kind of supreme karma that strikes once – and trying to replicate it is like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. One of the main reasons the first film is so delightful is because Jack Sparrow is so undeniably, delightfully weird – experiencing that for the first time is just fabulous in every way. That Johnny Depp pulled this character out of his psyche is both awe inspiring and a little scary. But like all good things, enough is enough at some point. We’ve gotten over the novelty of the character and since he is such a draw, no one saw fit to change him in any way for At World’s End. Eventually it all gets old. Even so, At World’s End is a reasonable piece of summer fluff. Nothing of substance, but it is a fun way to while away a couple of hours on a lazy afternoon with some of your favorite pirates. You won’t be disappointed by the stunningly gorgeous visuals – special effects, beautiful scenery and lovely, lovely lead actors – and it is always fun to gaze upon such glorious excess on the big screen. But you won’t come out of the theater bursting with enthusiasm for more, more, more! I’ve had enough Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s been a fun ride, but it’s time to let it be before every last bit of soul is sucked from what was once a fabulous fluke of Piratical Perfection.

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