MAY 14, 2011

The third film in the original trilogy, “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” takes everything that I loved about the first film and brings it back to the level of grandeur that was lacking in the second installment. The performances are perfectly on key, and the constant side changes keep the audience on the edge of their seats. The “Pirates” franchise succeeds highly in creating deep and interesting characters, and I believe that is what keeps you coming back. Barbossa and Davey Jones rank highly among my favorite characters of all time, showing treachery and villainy but also showing compassion and humor. The underlying love stories also nicely build off the first two films and fill in the gaps between action and strategy.

The entire cast is back in the third film of the original trilogy, with Barbossa rejoining the ranks and taking the reigns of the “good” guy role (if there are any discernible sides). Chow Yun-fat joins the ranks of villains as Captain Sao Feng, one of the nine pirate lords. Right away, we find out the big story arc for this final installment of the original trilogy: someone sings the pirate song, and now the nine pirate lords must meet to discuss the state of the seas. The problem? Jack Sparrow is one of the pirate lords, and, if you have seen the films in succession, Captain Jack was swallowed with the Black Pearl by the Kracken at the end of “Dead Man’s Chest.”

Together, Captain Barbossa (again reprised by Geoffrey Rush), William Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley), and the witch Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) venture to the world’s end to find Jack. The latter has been abandoned in Davey Jones’s locker to repay his one hundred-year debt.

The scenes involving Jack Sparrow in the locker are disturbing at best. Jack has essentially gone mad with multiple versions of himself crewing the landlocked Black Pearl. The clone’s gag carries on the entire film and makes for some of the most “kiddish” parts of the film. I am unsure why the writers felt the need to constantly chastise the character of Sparrow with such a diminutive presence. Still, the headstrong version of Sparrow presents his face ample time, enough to instill continued faith in the franchise.

The “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise has become synonymous with its intricate web of storylines, constantly shifting its character’s agendas, all while forming alliances and stabbing those alliances in the back when the perfect moment presents itself. But match this with pirate lore, and it comes off authentic. In stories, pirates have never been known for their honor, and the side changes mainly happen between the pirates. Specifically, William Turner and Jack Sparrow constantly shift their self-interest until the film’s end. I have grown to love this element of the movies, and though it gets a bad rap for being too confusing, I enjoy the challenge.

The raw nature of the pirate life returns in “At World’s End.” We glaze over the childish aura of the previous installment (“Dead Man’s Chest”) to get to the rich, death-defying sword fights, adult language, and the smothering of a man with the use of tentacles. In the second film, there was an air that no one could die and that even the smallest of characters was immune from death, which has no place in a pirate film. These men are murderous and do not flinch at dying, yet when no one dies, as in the second film, it begins to have that serene Walt Disney stench. “At World’s End,” however, begins with death, as pirates are hung left and right, and even they even hang a child before our eyes. I appreciate the writers returning to the roots of the pirates, and I feel it made the third film the masterpiece it is.

Having all the storylines come to a head in “At World’s End” makes the film so enjoyable. Not only have the plots been thickening throughout all three films, but you have seen every character at each other’s throats. You feel great when the cocky Lord Beckett is finally speechless, you applaud when William and Elizabeth finally get married, and you laugh when Jack Sparrow is left right where we met him at the beginning of the first film. The franchise comes full circle, and though I feel the next installments will not quite live up to the originals, there is a calming sense of closure at the end of the original trilogy.

The “Pirates of the Caribbean” films are another remarkable American trilogy that together makes a much better film than separately (especially in the case of the second film). With such elaborate characters and an intricate weave of storylines and agendas, there is no matching of the franchise’s pirate lore. Though I could use less Walt Disney and more blood-spilling, cutthroat pirates, the films tend to work for all age groups at different times. Though we have probably seen the last of William Turner and Elizabeth Swan, Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa will live on in future installments, and I’m excited to see where these characters end up next.

May 25, 2007

Gore Verbinski

Ted Elliott
Terry Rossio

by Ted Elliott
Terry Rossio
Stuart Beattie
Jay Wolpert

Walt Disney’s
Pirates of the Caribbean

Walt Disney Pictures
Jerry Bruckheimer Films

(for intense sequences of action/adventure violence and some frightening images)


169 minutes

Dariusz Wolski

Hans Zimmer

Craig Wood
Stephen Rivkin

Johnny Depp
Orlando Bloom
Keira Knightley
Stellan Skarsgård
Bill Nighy
Chow Yun-fat
Geoffrey Rush
Jack Davenport
Kevin R. McNally
Jonathan Pryce
Tom Hollander
Kevin R. McNally
Naomie Harris

Jerry Bruckheimer

$300 million

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