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End of the trilogy, end of the ideas?
Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End (DVD)
Member Name: silverbird44
Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End (DVD)
Advantages: Good fun, Johnny Depp, soundtrack
Disadvantages: Ridiculously complex plot, some duff acting
*Film only review*
Once upon a time there was a film called Pirates of the Caribbean, an appealing and fun adventure romp with a trippy turn from Johnny Depp as a mad pirate captain, undead skeleton pirates, parrots, monkeys and anaemic but inoffensive performances from Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom as the romantic leads. To the Disney executive's delight, these unlikely ingredients went down an absolute storm with the viewing public, and so in true cash-cow tradition they decided to make a couple more. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is the third in the trilogy, and despite being overlong, overblown and not a patch on the original, it is still a decent fun film for a family evening.
For a family film POTC 3 suffers from the curse of the ridiculously complex storyline, which I would need a whiteboard, marker pens and about two hours to properly explain. Basically, at the end of the first film we were left in the following position: nasty posh Englishman Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) is attempting to wipe all pirates off the face of the seas. In order to do this he has part allied himself with and part blackmailed Davy Jones, guardian of those souls lost at sea and played by Bill Nighy who wears a curious Scottish accent and an awful lot of CGI (he is part human and part squid). In order to ensure Jones' allegiance, Beckett has stolen his heart, which Jones cut out many years before after being abandoned by his lover.
So stand the baddies, and arranged against them are the characters of previous films. Firstly there is Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), whose father Bootstrap Bill Turner is part of Davy Jones' crew and so who has an ulterior motive for wanting to bring down the tentacle faced Captain. Then there is Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), who seems to have now fully joined the pirates and whose father is also being threatened by the Beckett-Jones consortium. Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) also reappears, now on the side of comparative good as all pirates are threatened. Captain Jack Sparrow, for many the main reason for watching this film, begins the story trapped in Davy Jones locker and has to be rescued.
There are also many minor characters, such as the pair of bungling pirates Pintel and Ragetti, the first mate Mr Gibbs and the Caribbean soothsayer Tia Dalma. The monkey (Jack) and the parrot also deserve a special mention (would it be cruel to say they sometimes outacted the romantic leads?). The first step of the film is to rescue Jack from Davy Jones locker, and there is then a complex series of double crossings as different characters try to achieve the aims of rescuing parents, defeating Beckett and Jones or obtaining eternal life. I'll leave the plot description at that - congratulations if you've made it this far!
A film this successful obviously has to have its good points, and I will willingly concede that it was an awful lot of fun to watch. There are some lovely lines in there, some fantastic silly moments, and as always Johnny Depp is very good value for money. His Jack Sparrow (sorry, Captain Jack Sparrow) is an eye rolling, hand waving, rope swinging tour de force, despite being more a crazy caricature than a proper actor. Depp fans ill be glad to hear there is often more than one of him on screen at a time - watch and find out! The appearance of Keith Richards as Captain Teague, Sparrow's father, is also an amusing moment, and comedy characters such as Pintel and Ragetti are good for a giggle.
A second plus point, and this applies to all the Pirate's films, is the soundtrack. Many modern films favour a soundtrack composed of popular songs, but composer Hans Zimmer (also of Gladiator, The Dark Knight etc) has instead opted for a grand, sweeping score performed by a full orchestra, with a mixture of big tunes and sea shanty type melodies played by cellos or violins. Pirate films take place on the sea, which is such a huge canvas: Zimmer's score is what brings many of the scenes to life.
A final good point is the special effects - which seem to have had a lot more time spent on their conception than was 'wasted' on the plot. The CGI of Davy Jones' crew, intended to make them look like a cross between ships, fish and people, is extremely impressive and almost believable, and the fight at the end benefits from the inclusion of a giant and terrifying looking whirl pool. Although you can tell a lot of this is obvious special effects, it is still done with thrilling panache.
But despite being a good piece of fun with wonderful music, POTC 3 suffers from a lot of problems. Firstly, there is that plot - oh dear lord, that plot. How they managed to turn a film based on a theme park ride into such chaos is beyond me. Everyone double crosses everybody else at least once, people swap sides purely for kicks, there are sub plots and pointless sequences coming out of the poor film's ears, and all of this contributes to a crazy run time of 169 minutes. Given that the original film has the perfectly serviceable plot of 'damsel kidnapped by evil pirates, pursued and rescued', I'm not sure how we ended up here!
Then there is the acting, which ranges from the great to the (frankly) amusing. I should state here that I have nothing against Keira Knightley - she is a target of unnecessary dislike from a lot of people, and that's unfair - but the idea of her as a pirate captain is a little beyond me. The problem is similar with Orlando Bloom. He is a nice looking individual, and made a very good elf, but the fact is that when he shouts to fire the cannons, no real person would hear his poor squeaky voice! Beyond these two, Geoffrey Rush and his ridiculous accent do a great job as Captain Barbossa, and Bill Nighy deals with the CGI quite well, but there is very little memorable acting beyond these two.
Overall, I would suggest that if this is on telly (or on BBC iplayer, as it was at the time of writing), it is worth a watch if you have a spare three hours or so. It is impressive at the time, good fun, a few pieces of nice eye candy for both genders and some very good laughs. But it is also eminently forgettable - there is no message that will stick with you once you have finished. So I'm going to go with a generous four Dooyoo stars, suggest you don't deliberately buy this, and hope against hope that the planned fourth film will go back to the swashbuckling, world conquering ways of the first. Otherwise this cow will not be getting any more cash from me.
Thanks for reading, and have a happy New Year.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (200&)
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Run Time: 169 minutes
Lead Actors: Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, Tom Hollander, Geoffrey Rush
(Written exclusively for Dooyoo).
Summary: Not as good as the first, but worth a watch anyhow