Pirates of the Caribbean At World’s End
Johnny Depp's swaggering portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow has parlayed a Disney amusement park ride into a top grossing movie franchise and contributed to a plundering rise in the sale of buccaneer merchandise. The popularity of Pirates even proved captivating enough to lure iconic rocker Keith Richards onto the screen for a minor role as Sparrow's swashbuckling father. But at nearly three hours long, this bloated sea tale drags on and on, leaving some viewers feeling like they've been to the end of the earth and back.
Similar to it's predecessors, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is jammed with action, frequent and often graphic swordplay, impaling, and aggressive ammunition exchanges between the pirates and the British Navy who, at present, have the upper hand in the war to control the waterways. Secured in a chest on Lord Cutler Beckett's (Tom Hollander) ship is the beating heart of Davy Jones (Bill Nighy). With that organ under lock and key, the tentacled captain and his cursed crew are obliged to help Beckett obliterate every other pirate on the ocean.
To combat the English tyrant, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley) and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) form a provisional and uneasy pact. Forced to confront Beckett and the East Indian Trading Company's exploitation of the seaways, they rally the elusive and eccentric Pirate Lords from around the world, as well as the unlucky Jack Sparrow who has been deigned to the realm of the dead by a dishonorable deed. (Fortunately in this film, coming back from the dead is not an impossible option.)
After a precarious plunge over the edge of the world, the trio and their shipmates rescue Jack and reinstate him as captain of his craft. However, he isn't the only victim of treachery and deceit. Unscrupulous behavior runs rampant on the boats like a bad case of scurvy. While intentions are often good, the methods for achieving the ends aren't always as noble.
Aimed at an older audience, the film delivers feisty characters and plenty of visual activity including stormy ocean battles and sailors who morph into sea creatures or barnacled parts of a ship. Unfortunately the multiple storylines are so intertwined it's difficult to know what character is on which side. Still, Sparrow's less frequent use of alcohol and the lack of smoking is an improvement over the last script that families will appreciate. As well, Will's desire to fulfill his promise to his father, along with some redemptive actions by others, keeps this privateer adventure afloat -- even if only barely above the waterline.