Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End
Cast: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, Chow Yun-Fat
Direction: Gore Verbinski
Rating: * * 1/2
Jack’s back. Literally from the back of the beyond — from the Kracken’s guts where we left him at the end of Pirates 2. And this time, Johnny Depp (as Captain Jack Sparrow) and the gang play out the circus for all of two hours and 45 minutes (that’s the total runtime minus interval, beware), in a scurry to set new box-office records.
At World’s End ends up as a crazy clutter — crazy enough to drive you at your wit’s end.
Time for some stocktaking. Pirates 1 rediscovered the word ‘adventure’ for the Hollywood textbook. Pirates 2 was a garbled mess, where the plot was tossed to the high seas. Still, you watched it out of curiosity. With Pirates 3, director Gore Verbinski lurches menacingly towards the same mes(s)merised schlock as 2. This time Verbinski loses grip on his characters.
The buzz for Disney was clichéd clear: Nothing succeeds like excess. More pirates, more swordplay swagger, more gunpowder punch, more CGI thwacks, more runtime — sex it up any which way. Sadly, in all this, you get less of story.
<b1>More shockingly, you get less of Jack Sparrow. Amid a whirlpool of characters, Jack makes his entry — inexplicably as a whacko. Saved after having been the Kracken’s lunch, Jack, one gathers, has developed multiple personality disorder. That’s more of Depp, in numbers. And less of the Depp impact, by way of glamour.
Don’t try making too much sense of the story (you’ll get confused, guaranteed), but here’s the idea: Will (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth (Keira Knightly) and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) rescue Jack from the the Land of the Dead. Together they must face their foes, Davey Jones (Bill Nighy) and Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander).
Beckett now controls Davey Jones’s heart, and plans to wipe out the pirates. Jack and gang have to unite all the pirate lords to thwart Beckett. Thrown in is some weird mumbo jumbo about Calypso, Davey Jones’s ex-lover, who must be released in the hope that she’ll help the pirates win.
It’s all too convoluted, too slow. So forget story, dig the frills. The trademark action is all over the place, and Depp’s antics do edge in the odd fun moments. The trouble with At World’s End is that it tries to balance too many things.
The outcome: it works as an action flick, it’s passable as a fantasy sequel, it’s definitely moronic when it gets mushy — the Will-Elizabeth romance needed a smarter finalé. The overall narrative tries to fish for novel stuff along the way. It ends up all gagged and choked like stuffed fish.
Look at the brighter side, Pirates fans. The franchise closes shop with Pirates 3. And that’s just about in the nick of time. At the rate in which they were going down the slope, a possible Pirates 4 would have crashlanded right into Davey Jones’s locker.