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

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

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Does He Plan It All Out or Makes It All Up as He Goes Along?

Jul 8, 2008
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Some Direction, Story, Look, Score, Visual Effects, Battle, & The Cast.

Cons:Bloated Direction, Incoherent Script, Bloom & Knightley.

The Bottom Line: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is a Good though Bloated Film from Producer Jerry Bruckheimer despite Johnny Depp's Comical Performance.



Following 2006's sequel to the hit film Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, the franchise produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Gore Verbinski. Dead Man's Chest proved that audiences still have a love for Johnny Depp's unconventional, comical portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow. While some felt Dead Man's Chest was flawed and suffered a bit of some of the cliches with other summer blockbusters. The film did bring what audiences wanted out of Captain Sparrow and company and more. It was no surprise that the film's ending brought out more open questions and what is to come for the third and final film of the franchise entitled Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

At World's End picks up where the last film had ended. Following the events of Dead Man's Chest, Captain Jack Sparrow and the ship known as the Black Pearl were taken by Davy Jones' monstrous being known as the Kraken. The result forced Sparrow to live in the horrific depths of Davy Jones' locker. Realizing the troubles of Jones' wrath, the survivors of the Black Pearl including Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann seek out to find Captain Sparrow with help from voodoo priestess Tia Dalma and the resurrected Captain Barbossa. Going into Singapore to meet another pirate, Barbossa and company realize that the days of pirates are coming to an end. The heart of Davy Jones is now in the hands of Lord Beckett and his East India Trading Company who joins forces with Jones in order to rule the sea and end the days of piracy.

Directed by Gore Verbinski with a script written by Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio who both wrote the scripts to the previous films. At World's End is a more epic film than its predecessors with multiple stories and characters bringing the beloved franchise to an end. With an all-star cast that features franchises players Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, Naomie Harris, Kevin McNally, David Bailie, Martin Klebba, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook, Jack Davenport, Jonathan Pryce, Bill Nighy, Stellan Skarsgard, Tom Hollander, and joining the franchise, Chow-Yun Fat. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End despite its ambitions and humor is also an example of how a franchise can get messy.

The days of pirates are at an end as Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) has the heart of Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) where he ordered the infamous ship captain to kill his monstrous beast the Kraken and do his duties to rid of pirates with his ship, the Flying Dutchman. Reluctantly joining Beckett are Governor Swann (Jonathan Pryce) and Admiral James Norrington (Jack Davenport) as Beckett hopes to rule the sea. With Captain Jack Sparrow stuck inside the netherworlds of Davy Jones' locker, Sparrow is revealed to be one of nine pirate lords for the Brethren Court. Yet, having never appointed a successor, Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), Mr. Gibbs (Kevin McNally), Pintel (Lee Arenberg), Ragetti (Mackenzie Crook), Cotton (David Bailie), Marty (Martin Klebba), and Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) go to Singapore to retrieve a map to World's End from Captain Sao Feng (Chow-Yun Fat).

Upon their arrival, Feng had already captured Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), who was trying to retrieve the map on his own accord to free his father Bootstrap Bill Turner (Stellan Skarsgard) from the Flying Dutchman. Barbossa and Feng do some negotiating when Feng learns that the East India Trading Company led by Mercer (David Schofield). Barbossa, Elizabeth, and their crew escape with member of Feng's crew to board a ship as well as the map to World's End with Will joining in. Back at the Flying Dutchman, the heart of Davy Jones return to the ship under Beckett's supervision as Governor Swann learns about the heart and its significance. With Barbossa leading everyone to World's End, Tia Dalma tells the story of a mystical yet powerful woman named Calypso who was the lover of Davy Jones until he betrayed her. Upon reaching World's End, they enter the mysterious, netherworld that is Davy Jones' locker.

Inside the locker, Captain Jack Sparrow is with the Black Pearl as he's surrounded by an imaginary crew in his image where he's stuck. Yet, upon his attempt to pull his ship back to shore, he makes a unique discovery as he's rejoined by his old crew and Barbossa. He reluctantly decides to work with all of them, especially Elizabeth since she was the one who put him in the locker. The tension between Will and Elizabeth becomes evident as he learned what she did as on their way back to the world, Elizabeth learns her father had been killed by Beckett after learning about Davy Jones' heart. Stuck in the world of Davy Jones' locker, Sparrow, using the map that Feng had, finds a way to get everyone back to the real world. They succeed until they're captured by Sao Feng.

Feng has made a deal with the East India Trading Company as to give Sparrow in exchange for leniency but the deal doesn't go well at all. Barbossa makes new negotiations with Feng about the identity of Calypso with Elizabeth claiming she's the mysterious woman. Will meanwhile, is revealed to be a traitor as Sparrow escapes Beckett after some dealings he made while Elizabeth flees with Feng. With Elizabeth in the role of Calypso, Feng hopes to use her for advantage in the Brethren Court yet when their attacked by the Flying Dutchman. Elizabeth was suddenly made captain as well as taken Feng's role as a pirate lord as she is captured by Jones, Mercer, and Norrington.

Back at the Black Pearl, Will creates a trail for Beckett to follow until Jack catches him as he's aware of his intentions as he kicks Will out of the ship. Will goes on board Beckett's ship to reveal what Sparrow and Barbossa are up to as well as the location of the Brethren Court. He also learns about Jones and Calypso as Elizabeth and her crew escaped with help from Norrington, who learned about her father’s death.

Elizabeth arrives with Feng's crew at the court as all the pirate lords go into an argument over the idea of freeing Calypso as some decide to betray the Code they live on until Sparrow's father Captain Teague (Keith Richards) reveals that all pirates must keep to the Code. Elizabeth, Barbossa, and Sparrow decide it's time to fight the Flying Dutchman and the East India Trading Company only to realize that they're outnumbered until Barbossa and Will decide to free Calypso once and for all leading to a huge battle between the Black Pearl and the Flying Dutchman with help from Calypso. Sparrow meanwhile, hopes to stab the heart of Jones and become the new captain of the Dutchman only to realize he' got more to deal with.

When the first Pirates film appeared in 2003, the film serves as an introduction to the characters and adventure that made the film widely successful. When it became a franchise with Dead Man's Chest, it created a huge story that involved Jack Sparrow's conflict with Davy Jones and the under current of the East India Trading Company. The story of Dead Man's Chest is merely a set-up for what is to come and expected for the film's third and final film. What At World's End is about is the beginning of the end of piracy as the pirates fight the East India Trading Company and Davy Jones for their survival and existence.

The story and concept of At World's End is a good idea but once it's a script, that's where things don’t go exactly well. Despite its ambitions, epic tone, and humor, Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio don't exactly succeed in creating a script that works overall. The problems is that, like other 2007 summer blockbuster three-quels like Shrek the 3rd and Spider-Man 3, it's attempt to broaden everything for a mass audience loses focus on the core story. The story manages to cram in a lot of ideas, twists, turns, ideas of romance, humor, and adventure into one story. What happens is that there's a lack of consistency and cohesiveness to the story and script. The fact that there's a lot of betrayals and twists where in the first two films, there were clear ideas of who's betraying who but in this one, it becomes very confusing.

Gore Verbinski's direction doesn't help things either since his ambitions and such manage to bog down the idea of the story. Yet, despite some of the film’s amazing visual effects and quirky sense of humor. The film's script often weighs down on Verbinski's direction where the audience at times, is confused by what type of film they’re watching. Like Spider-Man 3 and Shrek the 3rd, what the film does basically that ends up being a let-down is giving the audience what they want, even for something that runs nearly at over two-and-a-half hours.

Unlike the two films, its ambitions at least work for the scope of the story. The compositions and presentations that Verbinski creates is obviously an ode to the westerns that Sergio Leone made. Even the use of the stop watches that Calypso and Davy Jones have which is a reference to Leone’s 1965 classic For a Few Dollars More. Though the results of the entire film is a mixed-bag, Verbinski does manage to do an adequate job for the entire film.

Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski does an excellent job with the film's stylish, colorful photography that pays true to the visual scope of Sergio Leone in some scenes along with the showdown just before the big battle scene. Wolski also does great use of sepia lighting for the film's interior scenes to add a certain mood to the film. Editors Stephen E. Rivkin and Craig Wood does a nice job with the film's 168-minute running time without making it too slow while not making it overlong. Yet, the film at times through some really fast-cutting and jump-cuts that often disturbs the film's pacing. Yet, some of the stylization in the editing, including the close-ups in the show down that is true to the style of Leone.

Production designer Rick Heinrichs along with set decorator Cheryl Carasik and art director John Dexter do a superb job in creating the look of the Singapore scenes, the Brethren Court sets, and the interiors of the ship itself. Costume designer Penny Rose does an excellent job in creating the look of pirates clothing as well as Southeast Asian clothing to add a more worldly look to the film. Visual effects supervisors Charles Gibson, John Knoll, Erik Nash, and their effects team do an excellent job in creating the look of World's End, Davy Jones' locker, and the climatic battle scene. Sound designer Christopher Boyes and editor George Watters II do an excellent job in capturing the sound work in the battles, fights, and such to convey the chaotic atmosphere that is piracy.

Music composer Hans Zimmer creates an epic score with homages to Ennio Morricone for some of the musical pieces whether it's the banjo-styling theme of Captain Jack Sparrow, the huge epic showdown with harmonica backgrounds. Yet, the sweeping arrangements and orchestral bombast creates an epic approach to the film and its soundtrack that included additional contributions from Keith Richards. The result is a truly mesmerizing soundtrack from Hans Zimmer.

The casting by Denise Chamian is superb with notable small performances from Reggie Lee as Sao Feng's assistant Tai Huang, Greg Ellis as Beckett's officer, and Keith Richards in a great small performance as Captain Teague, Sparrow's father. Angus Barnett and Giles New as the respective roles of naval officers Mullroy and Murtogg from the first film, are funny as the two men who are often outsmarted by Captain Sparrow. David Bailie and Martin Klebba are great in their respective roles as Cotton and Marty as is Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook as Pintel and Ragetti, the two comic-relief observers of the film. David Schofield is definitely memorable as Mercer, Beckett's henchman.

Jonathan Pryce is good though wasted as Governor Swann as is Chow-Yun Fat as Sao Feng where he's not really doing much despite a good performance. Jack Davenport is also good as Norrington, a man in conflict over his loyalties as he learns of Governor Swann's death. Naomie Harris is great as Tia Dalma, the mysterious voodoo woman whose more powerful than she seems as Harris brings a lot of creepiness to the role. Kevin McNally is funny and wonderfully straight as Mr. Gibbs. Stellan Skarsgard is good but isn't given much to do as he's forced to be forgetful and such. Tom Hollander is great as Lord Beckett with his subtle yet charming sneer as he definitely adds class to the villain. Bill Nighy is excellent as Davy Jones, particularly adding some depth to his character who is dealing with the demons over Calypso as well as his heart on his ship as he's forced to work for Beckett.

Geoffrey Rush is great as Captain Barbossa, particularly for his sense of authority, expertise, and drive as he commands the screen with such bravado and humor as it's a great performance from Rush. Orlando Bloom, who often has some charisma and charm in the previous films, gives a very bland and uninspiring performance that is basically boring. Keira Knightley, despite having more to do, doesn't rise up to the challenge as she is forced to be super-dramatic and such and doesn't really sell the performance. Johnny Depp though, is great as usual as Captain Jack Sparrow and his clones as Depp brings a lot of wit and humor to the character that makes Sparrow one of the most beloved characters on film.

Despite its ambitions, humor, and epic-approach, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is an adequate yet messy, bloated film from director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. While the film is entertaining and filled with lots of action and laughs, its bloated script, approach to try and please everyone doesn't exactly work. Despite the performances of Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush along with a great supporting cast, the film also includes some very bland work from Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. While the film is an example of how bloated and how much Hollywood wants to please everyone, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is still entertaining but doesn’t exactly hit a home run.

Pirates of the Caribbean Films:

Curse of the Black Pearl (2003):

(Coming Soon)

Dead Man's Chest (2006):

http://www.epinions.com/content_241212493444


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