I am unabashedly unashamed to admit that I
really enjoyed the
first film in this series, and
was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked
the
second, in spite of the drubbing that many
critics heaped. So going into this movie, the
third in the series (which was shot back to back
with the second), I was prepared to go on a wild
ride. Since these movies are inspired by a theme
park attraction, what else should one expect?
The movies are meant to be enjoyed as pure
entertainment, popcorn flicks that deliver the
occasional thrill and take you to places that you
otherwise might never see. By that yardstick,
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S
END
more than succeeds.

Once again, director Gore Verbinski picks up the
action and hurls the audience into the thick of
it. Again, we are watching pirate sympathizers
face the noose at the direction of the evil Cutler
Beckett (Tom Hollander doing his best villain).
Cut to Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley
performing this time with a gusto and vitality
missing from the earlier films) who is in
Singapore seeking the pirate lord Sao Feng
(Chow Yun-Fat). And thus begins this ride which
will take the audience to Davy Jones' locker
(which resembles a desert) to a place called
Shipwreck Cove, where the pirate lords meet to
plot how they will deal with the escalating
power of the East India Company under the
direction of Beckett to a maelstrom where a
climactic battle will occur.

I do have to say that I wasn't as impressed with
this film as I had been with the first two. The
screenplays have always been convoluted and
complicated, but this one is downright vexing.
Characters switch allegiances oftentimes
because it suits the screenwriters and the plot
-- there is no real character motivation now as
there was in the first ones. (Well, there at least
was the illusion in the earlier films, it may be
debated just how much character development
there actually was.)

Whether by design or happenstance, the three
PIRATES films all deal with father figures. With
the exception of Elizabeth and the voodoo
priestess Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris), there are
few female figures. And each of the main
characters is dealing with paternal issues.
Elizabeth originally agrees to marry Norrington
(Jack Davenport) because her father (Jonathan
Pryce) demands it. Jack Sparrow deals with older
more experienced captains -- Barbossa (Geoffrey
Rush) or Davy Jones (Bill Nighy). (In this outing
we get to meet his real dad -- played wanly by
Keith Richards.) Will makes certain decisions to
rescue his father Bootstrap Bill (Stellan
Skarsgård). I suppose one could write a doctoral
dissertation on this theme.

The movie, though, careens from one thrilling
action sequence to the next until the last which
is spectacular, noisy and confusing. Just like
this entire movie.

Truthfully, I enjoyed this ride the least of the
three, but I did have fun. I also have to say that
either I'm getting soft or Orlando Bloom has
seemingly developed some charisma. For the
first time ever, I caught glimpse of what others
see in him. I'm not entirely convinced that he is
a great actor, but he has certainly improved.
Depp remains the mainstay and he has some
wonderful set pieces where Jack Sparrow goes
crazy and imagines various incarnations of
himself. These scenes alone are priceless and
remind the viewer of the actor's superb comic
gifts.

Reportedly Depp might want to revisit his
character sometime in the future. I'm all for it,
but I do hope that the franchise gets passed to
new writers -- ones that have a coherent vision.

Rating:                C+
MPAA Rating:      PG-13 for intense
                      sequences of
                      action/adventure
                      violence and some
                      frightening images
Running time:    168 mins.
   


   Viewed at the Regal E-Walk
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN:
AT WORLD'S END
© 2007 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
L to R: Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa, Keira Knightley as
Elizabeth Swann and Johnny Depp as
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END

Photo credit: Peter Mountain
© 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.