Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End

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Larger crew, smaller bounty as film wars with itself

The movie takes on water and begins to list by the midway point, but leave it to Captain Jack Sparrow and his entourage of phlegm-laden pillagers to pick up speed and clear the bilge by the final frame of Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End.

The third of three high-profile franchises to see an early summer release - and a potential claim on monstrous box-office booty - the latest Pirates adventure offers a stronger sense of narrative and internal drama than Dead Mans Chest, but its still weighed down by what can only be described as a bad case of megalomania.

The movie takes on water and begins to list by the midway point, but leave it to Captain Jack Sparrow and his entourage of phlegm-laden pillagers to pick up speed and clear the bilge by the final frame of Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End.

The third of three high-profile franchises to see an early summer release - and a potential claim on monstrous box-office booty - the latest Pirates adventure offers a stronger sense of narrative and internal drama than Dead Mans Chest, but its still weighed down by what can only be described as a bad case of megalomania.

And rather sadly, its not Jack Sparrows, but director Gore Verbinskis and executive producer Jerry Bruckheimers - who come nowhere close to generating Sparrows contagious and entertaining sense of self-importance because their hearts are focused on filthy lucre and furthering their own legend, while the only cause close to Sparrows heart is an undying love of fun and adventure.

This makes for a movie that often feels at war with itself as it belabours the build-up towards the final confrontation between the predominantly evil East India Company and the generally good-natured and quasi-honourable pirate army.

Without getting into the barnacled nitty gritty of the story - which often eludes logic (and thats okay because its a movie based on a theme park ride, after all) - At Worlds End features Johnny Depp reprising his role as Captain Jack.

When we last saw Jack, he was condemned to Davy Jones locker in order to pay off a debt. Now exiled between worlds, his loyal friend Elizabeth Swann (Kiera Knightley) and the somewhat less loyal Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) decide to save Jack in order to stop the marauding Flying Dutchman, an enchanted pirate ship which is now under the thumb of the Royal Navy and the evil command of Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander).

Not even the damned Jones can resist the nerdy power of Beckett because his heart is no longer his own. Its locked in a chest, where it continues to beat for all eternity until someone decides to stab it, and end Joness tentacled misery.

There may be more than one or two souls willing to end Joness torture, but no one is willing to pay the price - which must be paid in kind: one heart for another.

Throw in a few more rival pirates such as Chow Yun-Fat as Captain Sao Feng and Rolling Stone Keith Richards as Captain Teague, and the dramatic landscape suddenly looks a little cluttered - and it is.

Theres a lot of exposition to chew through before you get to the juicy meat of this story, but when it finally hits the screen with a bang in the form of a pirate convention - dramatic wind hits the sails and propels it to the finish line.

At Worlds End offers a satisfying conclusion to this franchise that marked a small rebirth of old-fashioned studio magic, but it fails to match the originality and quick-witted cleverness of the original.

Aaaaaargh.

Organizations: East India Company, Royal Navy, Chow Yun-Fat

Geographic location: Caribbean

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