At World's End
- Rated PG-13
- Buy the BD
All photos © Walt Disney
Reviewed by Bill Clark
irates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” feels like the final chapter of this shockingly successful franchise (the whole shebang has been crafted from a Disney theme park ride), and one can only hope it is. While the first two films skirted by on charm and sheer energy, “At World’s End” clunks through three hours of excessive characterization and exposition – and none of it makes any sense. Worse yet, someone along the line thought it would be a good idea to let Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom, easily the two weakest links of the series, steer this ship. I’d rather go to a wax museum.
Focused plots have never been a “Pirates” specialty, but here it goes: The film picks up right where “Dead Man’s Chest” leaves off, with Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) presumed dead at the clutches of the Kraken. Elizabeth Swann (Knightley), Will Turner (Bloom), and the newly resurrected Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) set out to rescue Sparrow. Their first stop is Singapore, where they meet up with Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat), an infamous Pirate Lord who provides them with a map to the edges of the Earth. Their voyage eventually lands them in a battle with their old nemeses, Davey Jones (Bill Nighy) and Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander). Sprinkled in are some bits about Jones’ heart and a cameo by Keith Richards, whom I don’t even think is wearing any makeup.
Taking on a much darker tone, there is little joy in “At World’s End.” I never thought I’d say this, but there is too little Jack Sparrow in this movie. Depp does his bloody best with what he’s got to work with, but the character shows signs of wear the longer the film goes on. He makes his signature quips and perfectly-timed facial expressions, but what more does he have to offer? It’s amazing that a franchise that has lasted for three two hour-plus movies and doesn’t even make an effort to progress any of the main players.
Once things finally get going (it takes about 45 minutes), the bulk of the duties are handed to Knightley and Bloom, the two whiniest characters who always draw chuckles when they try to be serious. Neither is a good actor, and has anyone, at any point, cared about their relationship? It’s based on convenient deceptions and has never even created a single spark, so why give them the floor? It is nice to have Barbossa back, and Geoffrey Rush steals every scene he’s in with his “arggh” (the best of the bunch) and wide-eyed overacting. He’s the most underappreciated aspect of this series, and resurrecting him is a wise move.
The climax, in which the two rival ships battle it out during a maelstrom, is mighty impressive from a technical standpoint, but the viewer has long since dozed and lost interest by the time it rolls around. Hamstrung by bad plotting and banal dialogue, not to mention the fact that basically anyone who we think is dead can be resurrected at will, it’s nearly impossible to care.
As has been the case so far this summer with every film that ends with a “3” or variation thereof, “Pirates” needs to call it a day. No significant steps have been taken and the producers are simply playing their audience for fools, knowing they’ll shell out the $10 (and probably another $10 in gas with the way things are) to see this. After the credits rolled, I felt like entering the theater lobby and doing my best impression of Leslie Nielsen in “The Naked Gun,” as the fireworks store blows up in the background: “Please disperse, there’s nothing to see here!”
Two-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
As far as the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films go, “At World’s End” was certainly the worst, so it doesn’t come as much of a surprise to discover that the Blu-ray release is just as bad. With absolutely no audio commentaries to be found, the biggest highlight of the set is the 25-minute “Masters of Design” – a series of production featurettes that cover the creation of props like Sao Feng’s map and the Pirate Code book, the Singapore set, and Keith Richard’s costume. Other highlights include a blooper reel, a short interview with Johnny Depp and Richards (“Keith & the Captain”), and a making-of featurette on the maelstrom scene. Blu-ray owners also get an exclusive interactive tour of the big finale, including a six-minute time lapse of the building and filming of the sequence, as well as over 40 minutes of additional behind-the-scenes footage. The two-disc set is rounded out with some pretty lame additions, including two deleted scenes, an actor featurette on Chow Yun-Fat, two music featurettes (“The Pirate Maestro” and “Hoist the Colours”), and an interactive featurette on the nine Pirate Lords (“Inside the Brethren Court”).