movie film review | chris tookey

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

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  Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Review
Tookey's Rating
1 /10
Average Rating
4.75 /10
Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom , Keira Knightley
Full Cast >

Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Written by: Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio

Released: 2007
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 168

It goes down with all hands.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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At least the Cutty Sark is probably salvageable. The eagerly awaited ?150 million blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean 3 proves to be beyond hope - the most depressing, expensive maritime disaster since the sinking of the Lusitania. Itís a big, bloated, bewildering bore.

This third and worst of a promising trilogy has a script thatís too full of holes to be seaworthy. It takes far too many wrong turnings, and director Gore Verbinski evidently has no idea why heís heading for the critical rocks.

Every winning element in the first two movies has been thrown overboard. All thatís left is a plot of such head-scratching complexity that it makes the intricacies of Gordon Brownís tax credits scheme look as easy to follow as the Teletubbies.

The story has entirely lost what Gordo would call its moral compass. Characters change sides, betray their beliefs and even kill each other without our having the slightest idea of what theyíre up to, or why.

Though some people found Pirates 2 hard to comprehend, it was possible to follow the plot, if you paid close attention. The story this time round is uninvolving, meaningless drivel. Lousy diction and over-enthusiastic sound effects donít help.

At the start of the movie, nautical but nice Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp, pictured right) has been killed by a kraken and sent to Davy Jonesís locker. This turns out to be anything but locked. Itís a surreal, desert-island, CGI-generated limbo containing multiple versions of Sparrow, thousands of crabs that look like stones, and Captain Jackís old ship, the Black Pearl, miraculously made whole.

Our heroines, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) have gone to save him, with the aid of the puzzlingly alive-again Captain Barbarossa (Geoffrey Rush) and a piratical crew lent by a dodgy Chinaman (Chow Yun-Fat plus spectacular scar-tissue, pictured left).

One of the first problems is that we simply donít know the rules governing Davy Jonesí locker. What are the crabs, and why are they helping Sparrow and his boat reach the ocean? Why is the Black Pearl back to perfect condition? Now that Captain Jack is dead, can he ever be killed again?

Most worryingly of all, why are there multiple Depps, of differing sizes? Later on, well away from the locker, we shall see even more Depps appear, with even less plot logic Ė by then perhaps theyíre meant to symbolise the Depps of our despair.

Following Captain Jackís escape from the locker, thereís a period when the film is literally in the Doldrums. And, in a way, it never emerges from them. Itís as though the writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio thought the primary asset of the first two movies was its convoluted plot. Virtually the whole script of Pirates 3 consists of leaden exposition, and almost every bit of it is incomprehensible or unbelievable - usually both.

Pirates 2 got away with the fact that the script wasnít ready by the start of shooting, by virtue of good gags and goofy action. Pirates 3 isnít so lucky. Itís glaringly obvious that the writers are making it up as they go along. And as for the love storyÖ

One of the reasons Pirates 2 worked on some kind of human scale was that Elizabeth Swann, though officially betrothed to handsome Will Turner, was secretly attracted to the wilder, freer but more unsanitary Jack Sparrow.

This potentially entertaining love triangle was nicely set up, but goes for nothing in Pirates 3. The only reference to it comes around 10 minutes from the end, and gets a laugh of audience recognition.But why wasnít it developed? As a result, thereís no chemistry between the three leads, and no romance, until way too late to save the movie.

And, my dear, the performances! Bloom is so uninteresting, and uninterested, that he looks as if heís modelling suntan products.

Keira Knightley, who proved in Pride and Prejudice that she really can act, gives a truly horrible performance of pitiful shallowness. Her attempt to deliver a climactic, Henry V-style speech to her pirate fleet is an especially woeful embarrassment. She sounds like an ineffectual prefect at Benenden, and the wardrobe department makes her look like a little girl playing dress-up, with a tea cosy on her head.

The main entertainment value of Pirates 2 lay in some outrageously camp, very funny stunts. Where have they gone? Here, thereís precisely one good, inventive action sequence Ė a marriage ceremony that takes place concurrently with a massive sea-battle Ė and itís over two hours into a 168-minute movie. Thatís about 115 minutes too late.

The other highlight is the much-trailed cameo by Keith Richards as Sparrowís dad. It gets the biggest laugh in the picture, but even he isnít woven effectively into the plot.

The whole film reeks of laziness and contempt for its audience. No one can even be bothered to tell us if the poor old krakenís croaked. I suppose it has, or it would have resurfaced. I kept hoping that it might, if only to gobble everyone up and relieve the boredom.

The first two films were enjoyably barmy. This one has entirely lost its moorings with reality. The East India Company seems able to murder an English governor and throw in its lot with a crew of fish-people led by a human octopus, without anyone at Head Office noticing, let alone complaining.

Weíre also meant to take it on trust that pirates are freedom-loving guys with a lovably anarchic streak. Gone is any idea that they are predators, or doing anything anti-social. Becoming a pirate is now, essentially, a fashion choice. No wonder the whole film seems weightless, thoughtless, pointless.

Pirates 3 ends with the survivors setting out in pursuit of the fountain of youth. On this sorry evidence, they would be better advised to consider early retirement.

I know, I know. The film will be a big hit. But it wonít deserve to be. Itís a a ?150 million rip-off. And the trusting public who pays to sit through this tedious tosh will have every right to feel extremely mutinous.

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