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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Captain Jack is Back!

Admittedly, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is a film that will receive all kinds of criticism for being too long, convoluted, and over the top. These are somewhat valid criticisms of the "Citizen Kane" of pirate films. But, there is something to be said for a film that is flawed yet still manages to entertain and engage.

How to begin describing the narrative of POTC: At World’s End? I’ll try to keep it simple. The East India Trading Company is on the warpath looking to eradicate pirates, anyone who associates with pirates, and anyone who might bear some passing resemblance to a pirate. In short, pirates are living on borrowed time.

The pirates must come together and unite against the East India Trading Company if they have any hope of continuing their plundering, pillaging, and debauched ways. Credit must be given to director Gore Verbinski in managing to make pirates out to be simply misunderstood, but noble mavericks…not unlike the rebel alliance in Star Wars.

Conversely, the East India Trading Company comes to resemble a seafaring version of The Galactic Empire (a la Star Wars). There are more than a few parallels one can draw between this film and Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. There is a serious and grave tone to much of the film, but it’s not always clear exactly what is at stake.

So what if the East India Trading Company squashes the pirates? Is this the end of the world? What’s the long term implication of this? Well..if you like Captain Jack Sparrow (played brilliantly by Johnny Depp), it conceivably means the end of his irreverent, roguish, charming escapades…among other things. But, beyond this, it’s anyone’s guess.

Let’s set aside the primary storyline and attempt to delve into some of the seemingly countless subplots:

1) Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) must rescue Captain Jack Sparrow and his ship the Black Pearl from Davy Jone’s locker (each for their own separate reasons).

2) Will Turner must liberate his father from perpetual servitude aboard the Flying Dutchman under the command of the nefarious Davy Jones (Bill Nighy).

3) The pirate lords must gather at the brethren court for any hope of staving off the East India Trading Company.

This is grossly oversimplifying things AND does not count the numerous twists, turns, and betrayals. Admittedly, it will help your cause somewhat to have seen the previous two POTC films, but you will more than likely still find your head spinning a bit trying to keep up. But, POTC: At World’s End should be commended nevertheless. The film STILL manages to engage and entertain for almost three hours!

First and foremost, Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Depp should be given the lion’s share of the credit for this. Barbossa (Rush) and Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) truly carry the day in this film with their sharp dialogue, witty banter, and irreverence. There’s never a dull moment when either of these salty dogs is on screen. Fortunately, both are on screen for most of the film. Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, and Chow Yun-Fat do a serviceable job, but they just don’t have the personality/presence that Barbossa and Sparrow do.

Additionally, POTC: At World’s End is a beautifully rendered film. The special effects and cinematography are astonishing. Verbinski and crew have created a remarkably rich and vivid pirate mythology that you can taste, touch, and feel in virtually every frame of the film. Complimenting this are a number of well planned and executed action set pieces that rival anything seen in the past year.

Make no mistake about it, POTC: At World’s End is no Star Wars or Lord of The Rings, but the film’s bloated runtime and unnecessarily complicated storyline are somewhat redeemed by stellar performances by Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Depp, witty and entertaining dialogue, and solidly entertaining pirate battle sequences. As far as summer films go, POTC: At World’s End is likely one of the best you’ll see in the next few months.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars