Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – 4 Stars (Excellent)
What a relief! Like many of my fellow reviewers, I held my breath after “Dead Man’s Chest” hoping installment three “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” would not be left in the chest with Davy Jones’ disgusting, slimy beating heart.
Three could have gone in the dumper with the average performance of Priates two, but thankfully “At World’s End” gets an excellent rating like the first Pirates’ presentation “The Curse of the Black Pearl”.
Dead Man’s Chest got mixed reviews nationally as many reviewers could not tolerate a plot that was too convoluted to follow. Trust me when I say that At World’s End was no better in that regard, but was far and away better as important story lines returned. Here are some:
1) The romance between Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) resumed. Just looking at Keira Knightly in her finest can take your mind off of the troublesome story line. The relationship between the two was all but destroyed in “Dead Man’s Chest”.
2) Jack is back! The Curse of the Black Pearl had Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) front and center with all action revolving around him. Dead Man’s Chest dimmed the spotlight on Captain Jack and eventually had him “killed” off at the end. At World’s End brings Captain Jack Sparrow back front and center, where he should be as the focal point of this saga.
Pirates of the Caribbean begins and ends with Jack Sparrow, and if he is given a lesser role the story suffers.
3) The over-the-top sight gags in Dead Man’s Chest (the sword fight in the giant wheel which went on far too long and the hanging baskets between the cliffs) put too much focus on production gimmicks rather than the characters. People make the story of Pirates, not gimmicks.
At World’s End has swordfights aboard ship and cannons blowing ships apart, right on, this is a pirate story for cripes sake, not some ballet production on a ferris wheel.
Give someone credit for letting writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio tell the story without marching orders. I believe these two writers were pushed into throwing anything together to satisfy the immediate demand for a sequel that would dovetail into another sequel. Gore Verbinski directed all three movies.
Given how convoluted the story line is, here is the best synopsis of At World’s End by J. Curcio (it certainly helps if you have seen the first two Pirate films):
“After Elizabeth Swann, Will Turner and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) rescue Captain Jack Sparrow from the land of the dead (Davy Jones’ locker), they must face their foes, Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander). Beckett, with control of Jones’ heart, forms a dark alliance with Davy Jones in order to rule the seas and wipe out the last of the Pirates.
“Now, Jack, Barbossa, Will, Elizabeth, Tia Delma and crew must call the Pirate Lords from the four corners of the globe to a gathering to figure out how to release the goddess Calypso, Davy Jones’ former lover, so she can come to their aid. Once Calypso is free, all of the Pirate Lords will stand together in their fight for freedom against Beckett, Jones, Norrington, the Flying Dutchman, and the entire East India Trading Company.
“During the battle, Will proposes to Elizabeth who insists that Barbossa marry them immediately. When Davy Jones mortally wounds Will aboard the Dutchman, Jack places the sabre in Will’s hand and helps him stab Davy Jones’ heart in the Dead Man’s Chest, thus killing Jones and making Will the Flying Dutchman’s captain.
The crew cuts out Will’s heart and places it in the Dead Man’s Chest. Jack and Elizabeth escape before the ship is pulled into the whirlpool, but it quickly resurfaces with Will at the helm. Will captains the Flying Dutchman and Jack Sparrow captains the Black Pearl as they destroy Lord Cutler Beckett’s ship, killing Beckett and causing his armada to retreat.
Although Will has been saved and the Dutchman crew has regained its humanity, Will must spend the next 10 years at sea ferrying souls to the next world. Will and Elizabeth spend one day together on an island to consummate their marriage, and Will entrusts Elizabeth with the Dead Man’s Chest containing his heart.
The rest is simply too good to give away here. Do not make the mistake of leaving when the credits begin to roll as there is a bonus scene at the end of the credits that is critical to understanding where the movie is headed next.
There are too many secret alliances, turncoats, double-crosses and self-centered activities going on to detail them in this review. Suffice to saw that the action happens so quickly that the plot does become convoluted.
There was in fact an actual council of pirates at one time in history. The 9 Pirate Lords portrayed in the film are:
Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow: Pirate Lord of the Caribbean Sea.
Geoffrey Rush as Hector Barbossa: Pirate Lord of the Caspian Sea.
Chow Yun-Fat as Captain Sao Feng: Pirate Lord of the South China Sea.
Takayo Fischer as Mistress Ching: Pirate Lady of the Pacific Ocean.
Hakim-Kae Kazim as Gentleman Jocard: Pirate Lord of the Atlantic Ocean.
Marcel Iures as Capitaine Chevalle: Pirate Lord of the Mediterranean Sea.
Ghassan Massoud as Ammand the Corsair: Pirate Lord of the Black Sea.
Marshall Manesh as Sri Sumbhajee: Pirate Lord of the Indian Ocean.
Sergio Calderon as Captain Villanueva: Pirate Lord of the Adriatic Sea.
The scenery is really outstanding in At World’s End; some of the scenes were filmed during the filming of Dead Man’s Chest so locations would not have to be revisited.
Keith Richards, who had been courted to appear in earlier Pirate films, agreed to appear as Jack Sparrow’s father and keeper of the Pirate Code in At World’s End.
When the Pirate’s Code is brought out to settle a dispute, Barbossa refers to the code created by “Morgan and Bartholomew”.
This is a reference to famous pirates Henry Morgan and Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts. Morgan was famous for sacking several impenetrable treasure towns, including Portobello, the Fort Knox of its day.
Black Bart was simply brutal without any conscience whatsoever, he killed and pillaged at will and was one of the pirates to develop a code of honor which his crew followed upon pain of death.
These are my favorite lines in the movie:
Will Turner: No cause is lost if but one fool is left to fight for it.
Barbossa: Dying is the day worth living for.
Barbossa: All men are drawn to the sea perilous though it may be.
Will Turner (when he gives Elizabeth the Dead Man’s Chest with his beating heart in it): It was always yours . . . Will you keep it safe? (How is that for a romantic line, ladies?)
Cabin Boy: Yo ho, haul together, hoist the colors high. Heave ho, thieves and beggars, never shall we die!
Among the locations in At World’s End were the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, the dunes in Guadalupe (CA), Niagara Falls in New York, ocean battle scenes were located near Palmdale (CA) and sea sequences in Rancho Palos Verdes (CA).
At World’s End runs 2 hours 47 minutes, 15 minutes longer than Dead Man’s Chest and 30 minutes longer than Spider Man 3.
Despite its length, At World’s End had the best Memorial Day Weekend opening ever, hauling in $142 million, and was second only to Spider Man 3’s best opening weekend ever at $151 million. When you add in the international numbers, At World’s End hauled in $332 million for the weekend.
At World’s End rang up the most valuable haul among any pirate booty ever.
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