Avast ye mates, Jack’s back, and did ye ever doubt the return of Cap’n Jack Sparrow? Johnny Depp once again transforms himself like no other actor in
The film opens with a quite grisly mass hanging involving a child that was more than a small surprise for me coming from a Walt Disney Production. No question it is effective and lets you know immediately that this is a darker movie than the previous two. At World’s End continues pretty much exactly where Dead Man’s Chest left off. Sparrow’s not so faithful comrades Will Turner (Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Knightley) have engaged the help of sorceress Tia Dalma (Harris) to bring back Jack Sparrow (Depp), sent to Davey Jones’ Locker by none other than Swann herself in the previous film. To lead this expedition, Dalma resurrects the villainous Barbossa played to perfection by Geoffrey Rush. What follows is a rather convoluted series of bargains and betrayals that are honestly a bit hard for one to follow. You can’t tell the player sides without a scorecard.
There are also two completely ridiculous scenes with multi Sparrows engaging in some existential claptrap that not only slows down the pace of what is otherwise an action packed rollercoaster ride, but the scenes remove the audience unnecessarily from the adventure for what is clearly self-indulgent playtime. Amid the multiple plot twists there is a Pirate’s Council which consists of the 9 pirate lords, of which both Barbossa and Sparrow are members. It is here that the much anticipated cameo by Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards occurs. Disney has considerably backed off of the hype originally planned for the occasion when Richards made a statement he later labeled a joke that he had snorted his father’s ashes mixed with cocaine. Richards was also responsible for a production delay when he injured himself, allegedly due to booze or drugs. Richards plays Depp’s father. The cameo was the result of Depp revealing that he based the nuances of his Sparrow character on Keith Richards. Anyway, it is at this council that more twists and turns reveal that the original council had imprisoned the goddess Calypso, and Barbossa intends to release her in exchange for her favor. Of course, there is the sub plot of the pesky British officers striking a deal with Davey Jones (Nighy) to use the Flying Dutchman to deal a fatal blow to the entire pirate community through the gathering of the council at Shipwreck Cove. There is plenty of the expected swordplay and more than enough impressive CG f/x to move the film along.
There are a number of strong renditions by this gifted group of thespians. Johnny Depp is more than capable of carrying an entire film on his shoulders, but there’s no need here. Bill Nighy is underused in this film, but again brings an incredible performance as Davey Jones that refuses to be hindered by the combination of makeup and CG that makes his facial features nearly unrecognizable. Orlando Bloom is steady as William Turner, giving perhaps the most natural portrayal in the group. I’ve already mentioned Geoffrey Rush, and has there ever been a more convincing pirate. Unfortunately, Keira Knightley shows some disdain for her character and is perhaps already tired of the role. She has a lot to do here, and a stronger job from her would have gone a long way. The wonderful Jonathan Pryce has an extremely limited role here and is almost non-existent throughout the film. Mackenzie Cook and Lee Arenberg continue to provide welcome comedy relief as Ragetti and Pintel respectively. The eye socket joke should have gotten old by now, but somehow it continues to amuse. Tom Hollinder repeats as Lord Beckett. He’s a bit too uptight. I know that’s the character, but he never appears comfortable in the role.Yun-Fat Chow is the better newcomer, playing one of the pirate lords. The film’s opening sequence pits the Black Pearl crew against Captain Sao Feng, and I would rather have liked to see him more involved later on. Instead, his much heralded presence is used merely as a plot contrivance to place
I can’t say enough about the technical aspects of At World’s End. This is by far the most ambitious of the three in terms of special f/x.The f/x crew threw everything they had into creating a vast explosion of visual stimulation. The amount of eye candy rivals even George Lucas without so often over saturating the film with too much going on that it becomes distracting. All of the amazing creatures from Dead Man’s Chest are back. There are astonishing sea battles, particularly one involving ships fighting around the rim of a maelstrom. If you’re looking for that amusement park ride excitement, these films promise you’ll find that At World’s End delivers.
So what is it I didn’t like about the film? The pace of the story is too uneven at times. The multiple Depp sequences have no place in this film. The story itself is far more complicated than it needs to be. There are so many plot elements racing at us at once that there are times you just stop trying to follow it all. This has the undesirable effect of dulling the impact as these various threads come to their climactic conclusion. This could have been edited down to about 2 hours or so and been a vastly improved film. There are also too many characters and many, particularly newer ones, aren’t given enough time to be fleshed out. I’m sure the actors were often frustrated with how little character development they were given. The result is that there are far more throwaway characters than I’m sure were originally intended. Finally, there were things the film invested a lot of time towards that were never in the end paid off. What happened with Calypso? is one such element. The plan to release her was so important, yet once finally released, she merely disappeared. The entire production had the feel of a project with too many hands in the broth that might have been rushed into completion.
At World’s End is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Understand that this is the kind of film that tends to run the entire spectrum of colors and textures. When appropriate the colors leap from the screen and dazzle you with their intensity. Still, there are moments when shades of grey overcast and dreariness are required, and this transfer switches gears without missing a beat. Black levels are near perfect for an SD presentation. The level of detail is usually so high that you’ll be challenged to take it all in at times. There are absolutely no print defects and just the slightest hint of compression artifact, usually in CG rich dark moments. The film’s tone is overall very dark, often shaded with blue tints. I think they went a bit too far in the original production here, but fortunately the transfer was equal to the task, and you won’t struggle to make out shadows. There is an unforgivable clumsy layer change at 1:12.
This is a two-disc release with the film on the first disc and most of the features on the second.
Deleted Scenes: There are two very short deleted scenes. The first is merely exposition, but the second is an amusing scene with Barbossa and Sparrow co-captaining the
Masters Of Design: This is a collection of very short pieces on the various craftsman who developed such things as props, costumes, and sets.
The World Of Chow Yun-Fat: Even in the features Chow gets ripped off. This is a very short 4 minute piece on the actor and his part, which could have played a larger part in the film.
Whenever I go to Walt Disney World, I usually make a beeline for The Pirates Of The Caribbean ride. It’s by far one of my favorites. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I was cautiously optimistic when I heard back in 2001 that a film version was being considered. My reservations were a bit settled when I found out Johnny Depp would play a major character. Still, after watching Eddie Murphy in the