Pirates of the Caribbean At Worlds End

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) returns in “Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End”, the third film in the series which has set box office records the world over. Picking up shortly after the events of the previous film, “Dead Man’s Chest”, it’s a new world for pirates and those who associate with pirates. Once the hunters, they’ve become the hunted, rounded up by The East India Trading Company, headed by Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander). Now under Beckett’s command, The Flying Dutchman, and its miserable, unforgiving captain, Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), sails the seven seas hunting pirate ships and giving no quarter.

Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) journey to exotic Singapore and confront Chinese pirate Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat) to gain charts, and a ship, that will take them off to world’s end, to rescue Jack from his cursed fate in Davy Jone’s Locker.

They need to gather the Nine Lords of the Brethren Court, their only hope to defeat Beckett, the Flying Dutchman, and his Armada. Sao Feng is one of the nine lords as is Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Their clandestine meeting does not go unnoticed, with the East India Trading Company dispatching troops to interfere, and soon a battle royale erupts in one of the films better moments, which sadly were few and far between.

British troops and treacherous waters dispensed with, Elizabeth, Captain Barbosa, and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), are reunited with Jack, which sets into motion a very long, and at times confusing series of events. Jack is trying to avoid his debt to the squid faced Davy Jones, while Will is hoping to free his father from the Flying Dutchman as well, and at the same time restore his damaged relationship with Elizabeth.

While this covers the main three characters, the agenda for the others in the film are much more murky, especially that of Barbossa and other members of the Brethren Court who join together and seem content to risk life and limb without much in the way of compensation. There is a tacked on subplot about the Pieces of Eight that are needed to free a magical entity who may be of help in their battle with the deadly Jones and his otherworldly crew, but sadly most of the film’s nearly three hour running times seems either unnecessary and/or confusing as it works its way towards the final climax.

When the film does shift back into action mode which thankfully comes in the final 30 minutes or so of the film, with great special effects, the attractive and nimble cast really get a chance to shine. It is easily the most enjoyable and invigorating action sequence in all three of the films, and is almost worth the wait it took to get there. Almost. The film suffers mightily from the convoluted plot, dragging painfully on for long stretches of time, and only seems to come to life when Depp is on the screen. Sadly that is not nearly enough to save the film, weighed down as it is by the issues I’ve already detailed.

Although visually spectacular, I had high hopes for this film, especially after the great, but somewhat disturbing, opening sequence. Any momentum gained from that was quickly lost and the film soon became a bloated extravaganza of style over substance that was badly in need of having 45-60 minutes trimmed from its running time.

2.5 out of 5 Stars