Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Review (8.5/10)
(By Erin)

"What would you do? What would any of you be willing to do? Would you brave the weird and haunted shores at world's end to fetch back witty Jack?"

With perhaps the greatest movie cliffhanger since we saw Han Solo being delivered into the evil clutches of Jabba the Hut at the end of the Empire Strikes Back, so ended last year's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. It was the type of ending that left audiences (myself included) sitting on the edge of their seats, anticipating the sequel.

This week, that anticipation ended with the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, the third and (possibly) last installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. And, let me tell you, it was well worth the wait.

At World's End begins where Dead Man's Chest ended. Davy Jones is at the mercy of Lord Beckett, who is in possession of the chest containing his still-beating heart. The pirates of the world are under siege by Jones and Beckett. Captain Barbossa, Will Turner, Elizabeth Swann and their crew are in search of Captain Jack Sparrow, who is languishing in the place between life and death. Deception and betrayal abound as the two sides battle for control of the seas. By the film's end, one side will have won and the other will have lost, but along the way there will be twists and turns that will leave the mouths of even the most ardent Pirates fan hanging agape with shock. It is one great ride.

Unlike Spider-Man and Shrek 3, At World's End is finally a film that is worthy of its franchise and that exceeds the standard set by its predecessors. It is the longest of the three movies, clocking in at 2 hours and 48 minutes. With a couple of minor exceptions, I found myself completely engrossed in the film and I barely noticed its running time.

Like its predecessors, At World's End boasts gorgeous costumes, intricately detailed sets and realistic special effects. The sets, in particular, were a feast for the eyes and I have no doubt that they will be recognized during awards season. I particularly loved the eerie, intimate lighting of Shipwreck Cove. It reminded me of an exotic island hotel in the South Pacific - as odd as it sounds, it was actually inviting.

Also like its predecessors, the acting in At World's End was superb. Although Johnny Depp's performance will be the one that will receive the accolades, I can honestly say that no one performance dominated the others. This film benefitted from an excellent ensemble cast. If I had to make one criticism, it would be that Chow Yun-Fat and Keith Richards were sorely underused in the film. I should not have been surprised by Keith Richards' short performance, as he was only slated for a cameo appearance, but I had expected that Chow Yun-Fat would have a much more integral role in the plot. I was surprised to discover that Keith Richards actually seemed to have some acting chops. I have to admit that I derived some amusement contemplating how much of his haggard complexion was his own and how much was attributable to the film's makeup artists (for the record, I decided that most of it was his own well-worn look).

I initially approached this film with some trepidation, after reading more than one review that complained that the movie was long and convoluted. I will say that the film requires the audience to pay attention and to listen carefully to the dialogue. This is not the standard spoon-fed fare that is custom-designed for a lazy, complacent audience. Those viewers that make the effort will be well-rewarded as light is shed upon many of the questions which are raised throughout the series. (In other words, leave the bladder-busting jug of pop at the door, because if you go to the washroom you may return to find yourself lost in the plot.) For those of you who have the time, I would recommend renting The Curse of the Black Pearl and Dead Man's Chest prior to watching this film. I did, and I found that the recent review assisted me to follow the plot and to appreciate the pure brilliance of this final installment.

As for the length of the film, with one notable exception I cannot think of one minute of this film that could be removed without undermining its progression. The notable exception is the footage where we first see Captain Jack at world's end. The whole hallucination sequence was non-sensical and detracted from the otherwise flawless flow of the film. For those of you who don't mind spending five minutes sitting through the film's end credits, you should note that there is an extra couple of minutes of footage at the end that are worth staying to watch.

Parents who are considering this film may wish to consider whether this is an appropriate film for kids under the age of 13. While I wouldn't necessarily say that the film is excessively violent, it is a bit dark and contains some scenes which may be frightening for younger viewers. Younger children are not going to be able to appreciate the plot nuances that make At World's End such an enjoyable film, and their adult companions are likely to feel frustrated if they find themselves bombarded with constant questions and interruptions while they are attempting to navigate the film's intricate plot. I would probably have given this film an AA rating for those reasons.

At World's End is a fitting end to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed this film series. Like its predecessors, the film strikes a fine balance between campy comedy and swashbuckling action. It requires some effort from its audience, but that effort is well-rewarded in the end. And for those of you who are ardent Pirates fans, I think that you will find that, while this film wraps up this chapter of the story, there appear to be a few seeds sown for the crew's next new adventure.

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