Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

 

Little did the creators of the first film in the Pirates of the Caribbean know that they'd have a franchise on their hands. But Johnny Depp sauntered onto the screen and won over audiences young and old alike, and no matter what this final screenplay has to offer, it's him that is going to plant hind ends in the seats.
 
With the evil Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander) in command of the high seas, intending to rid the Caribbean of its pirates and all who associate with them, and Jack Sparrow (Depp) stranded in the endless wasteland of Davy Jones' Locker, it is up to the rest of the gang, lead by Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) to rescue Jack and set up a council of pirates to combat Beckett's bloodthirsty intentions. With the help of Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and the rest of Jack's crew, they journey to Singapore to seek the assistance of the infamous pirate lord Sao Feng (as Chow Yun-Fat) in obtaining a new ship and crew. Their desire is to sail to the ends of the earth and recover Sparrow from the madness of solitude, but none of them realize that Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) has an ulterior motive. He wants to recover the Black Pearl so that he can free his father (Stellan Skarsgrd) from a terrible curse.
 
Numerous battles and perils await the courageous men and women that sail right over the edge of the world into the afterlife. It's also the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to twists and turns. There is the heartless Davy Jones (Bill Nighty) and his rage against the woman for whom he gave up his liberty. The beautiful and infinitely mysterious Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris), who hides a great many secrets, and of course Admiral Norrington (Jack Davenport), who has recovered his life and station but now little realizes that he acts for a monster. The result is a fantastic film on most levels, but it does suffer a bit in its own ludicrous nature, and just about everyone in the screening I went to was fidgeting for the first half hour, wondering if it was ever going to improve. Until Jack Sparrow appears on screen, the laughs are few and far between, the setting is peculiar, and even though there are battles aplenty, it felt dull.
 
I was even starting to wish I'd stayed home and saved my late-night trip to the theatre for a daytime matinee, but then it improved and kept up a fantastic pace until after the closing credits (where the patient viewer will find a touching scene). Where it stands, this one is much bigger and more adventurous than the other two but doesn't contain near the heart. The characters are acting without much consideration of one another, and the only reason you have to hope that Will and Elizabeth make it together comes from past experience, since they spend most of the film either not speaking to one another or fighting. Still, there were some nice emotional scenes, such as Davy Jones' confrontation with his lost love and Norrington's brief speech to Elizabeth. It also made me cry twice, once out of sorrow and another time out of the unfairness of "life." But as much as I liked it, some things were just too much. I felt for a little while toward the climax that we had been sucked into a life-action version of The Little Mermaid, right down to the tide pool, the angry sixty-foot goddess, and the rainstorm. And as hilarious as it is to see Jack hallucinating hundreds of himself dashing all over the Black Pearl to do his bidding, that joke started wearing a little thin toward the end.
 
However, a lot of things left my mouth hanging open. I've never seen anything as gorgeous and earth-shattering as Beckett's final moments. A good portion of the plot is devoted to the legends surrounding the underworld. The sailors see ghostly forms passing on the sea, being ferreted to the other side. Tia Dalma is known for her "magic." There is talk of a pagan goddess trapped in human form that might be able to help the pirates win the war. Eventually, a meager spell is cast to set her free. For a series that has in the past dealt with half-souls and pirate curses, this latest addition to its mythology is not overly disturbing. Most audiences will never bat an eyelash. I enjoyed learning more about Tia Dalma and catching glimpses of the underworld, but other characters I felt were lost somewhat in the midst of the action scenes.

Things may not turn out just the way you imagine, and that's the mark of a good story, one that keeps you guessing up until the very last moment and then leaves you to ponder where you have been in the past several hours.
 

 
Sexual Content:
A man is excited to see up a short skirt; a married couple kiss and caress on a beach; revealing clothing.
  
Language:
There are a handful of mild profanities.
  
Violence:
Beckett's men hang pirates in the opening scene (including a little boy). Ships are blown apart in battle. Explosions go off and send bodies careening in every direction. Men are stabbed, hit over the head, pummeled with cannon fire, and sent crashing into the depths. Bloodied bodies are displayed after battle on the decks of ships; Will ties them to barrels and sets them afloat. We see seagulls picking at a man's flesh. A barnacle-covered creature aboard Davy Jones' ship has the ability to remove and play with its brain. While sailing through the arctic, many of the crew experience frostbite. One is shown snapping off his big toe. Davy Jones slides his tentacles through a man's eyes and mouth; the ends come out his nose as he is killed. Bodies are found with pieces of wood sticking out of their chest; one man is discovered to have had a wooden pike driven through his head.