Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End

Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End

***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Whatever they say about the third in a trilogy being the worst – The Godfather, Spider-Man, The Matrix, et al – forget it. At World’s End is the best of the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise, which isn’t saying much because the others are as dippy as a fairground ride and so full of CGI effects that you begin to wonder whether Johnny Depp is a hologram and Keira Knightley a Pixar animation.

Having introduced the concept of a ghost ship in One and gone to town with grotesque make-up for its crew in Two, this third outing settles into its monumental absurdity with renewed confidence. You have to forget about death and resurrection. It’s all in a muddle because half the cast was/is dead and yet acts alive – well, maybe not Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), who can’t pretend that an octopus for a face is exactly normal, or being estranged from his still beating heart a natural state of affairs.

Copy picture

Visually, as well as in certain performances, the final instalment of Disneyworld Goes Hollywood has a healthy infusion of surrealism and a sense of humour that holds itself in check when the temptation is to Jim Carrey it, since the plot cannot be taken seriously, let alone understood. To say that it looks like a picture is a tribute to the cinematographer’s eye and the artistic sensibilities of the computer graphics dept.

To cut a long story short, a meeting is arranged between the nine pirate lords at Shipwreck Cove. Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander), the dastardly colonial administrator, has done a deal with Davy Jones, Jack Sparrow (Depp) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), separately and secretly, in order to set a trap, with the help of the English fleet, to eliminate the pirates once and for all. He forgets that he’s dealing with the supernatural and the late governor’s daughter (Knightley), who morphs into a mix of Joan of Arc and Maggie Thatcher at Port Stanley.

Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), the ghost ship’s captain in One, is back with a vengeance, sparring verbally and literally with Sparrow over control of The Black Pearl. Last seen being gobbled by a sea monster in Two, Sparrow, the iconic cowardly pirate, trips campishly from one disaster to another, scarcely aware of what he’s up to, while Turner’s plan is to take over The Black Pearl so that he can save his dead father (Stellan Skarsgard) who has turned into a barnacle on the ghost ship.

While the action sequences are spectacular, the film overruns by 40 minutes, Credulity is the first casualty, but then this is not for real; it’s for entertainment. The characters introduced in Two, such as Jones, the Creole seer Tia Dalme (Naomie Harris) and Beckett are allowed more time to develop and Chow Yun-Fat, as the pirate lord of Singapore, is a wonderful addition to the rogues gallery.

Acting, like writing, tends to be ignored in blockbusters where action rules. Not here, not now. Rush and Nighy are stupendous. Harris and Depp are delightfully eccentric. Knightley shows grit and Bloom his best side. Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook, as court jesters on The Black Pearl, are much appreciated and Keith Richards in the cameo role of Jack’s dad displays genuine authority.

Pirates Of The Caribbean goes out with a bang, not a whimper, much to the surprise of cynics and crustaceans everywhere.

Reviewed on: 24 May 2007
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Action packed finale to the supernatural swashbuckling saga from Disneyworld.
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