Film Review: Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End


Pirates 3

In keeping with my new pirate-themed masthead, I finally get around to reviewing Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End. Not that I should really bother, since you’ve probably long ago gone and seen it. Like the two films before it Pirates 3 has had its all-important opening weekend, raked in the cash, and once again Hollywood has successfully wrapped its greedy fingers around the throat of a once evocative and fascinating theme and shaken furiously until all trace of juice has been squeezed from it. Everybody’s sick to death of pirates–pirate films, pirate books, pirate toys, pirate fast food cross-promotions … and now pirates are doomed to join dinosaurs, Star Trek, mummies and Aliens in limbo until someone years down the track with some real creativity can resurrect the genre a la Batman Begins. Next! I hear it’s going to be more of the same in Arabia with Prince of Persia.

Of course they could have gone out with a bang and made a decent film, but At World’s End sure doesn’t cut the mustard. It feels as tired and messy as the actors in it look. Orlando Bloom continues to go for the crown of Most Forgettable On-Screen Hero by further honing his astonishing lack of charisma. Johnny Depp puts his Keith Richard-schtick on auto-pilot (and Keith Richard proves how much more amusing the caricature is than the man himself). Geoffrey Rush hams it up OK despite having nothing interesting to actually do. The only person really working hard for their pay cheque is Keira Knightly, who refuses to admit that everyone’s lost the plot and, no doubt charged with the energy of youth, does inject some life into the tired proceedings.

After watching a few ‘Making Of’ specials on DVD I can understand why they’re all so tired. After filming the last two back-to-back, enduring a couple of hurricanes and organising crews of several hundred million people, the overweening impression that comes across on the screen is that everyone wants to get this over with and go home. There are some truly bad scenes, and long sequences of padding where everyone stands around in clumps on board one ship or another and tries to look interested while someone works their way through another twenty chewy mouthfuls of exposition. No, we don’t understand what’s going on either folks! In a desperate attempt to mythologize the whole trilogy, Gore Verbinski and his writers lose sight of the reason the first–and to a lesser extend the second– films were enjoyable; they were fun! Not only has it all become grim and tedious and way too complex by this third film, but those opportunities created by the mythology are criminally wasted. Davy Jones himself looks rushed to screen–it’s now quite easy to see that he’s computer-generated, unlike last time–and is completely emasculated as a character. All film long we lead up to the reveal of Calypso and her relationship to DJ, and when we finally get there, any glimmer of pathos is swallowed up in a wave of computer-generated gumpf. The character of Jack Sparrow loses all his charisma by pretty much disclosing that he has in fact, a serious multiple personality disorder. I can hear the studio execs now–“everyone loves Jack Sparrow, let’s put ten of him on the screen at the same time!” At least Verbinski avoids the obvious happy ending, but the alternative is unsatisfying and leaves you with more questions than answers.

Once again, the blame lies with the script; and at the speed all concerned were expected to work by the studios, I’m not surprised. The lack of soul in At World’s End is the inevitable consquence of working creatives like galley slaves and rushing a film to the cinema in order to squeeze every last possible cent out of the public.

Truly this is a disappointing film. I went into the theatre expecting rip-roaring adventure, actor chemistry and several shiploads of pirate fun. I came out feeling like I’d been hit over the head with a dead salmon wrapped in a wet blanket for three hours.

One and a half wooden eyes out of five.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. anaglyph
    Jul 10, 2007 @ 19:06:11

    I was disappointed to see that Calypso had a bad case of crabs. Real bad.

  2. jedimacfan
    Jul 13, 2007 @ 09:16:49

    Of course they could have gone out with a bang and made a decent film, but Dead Man’s Chest sure doesn’t cut the mustard.
    Don’t you mean At World’s End?

  3. Universal Head
    Jul 13, 2007 @ 11:16:41

    See – I can’t even tell the difference between them!
    Fixed …