From left, Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) set sail in “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.”
It seems practically every review of “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” reports that it is a good 45 minutes longer than necessary. Ignore that nonsense.
This third installment of director Gore Verbinski’s franchise runs 168 minutes, and not a moment is wasted. There’s actually far more going on in this film than either of its two predecessors – partly because as the conclusion to the trilogy it has to tie up many loose ends; and partly because Verbinski knew that he had to save something truly unique for the climax.
The movie delivers precisely what audiences expect … and then some.
Sure, there’s plenty of swashbuckling action and adventure with dazzling sword fights and hull-shattering naval battles; but, there’s also the knotty romantic undercurrents complete with dangerous liaisons and tragic heartache. Sure, there’s the familiar foulness of grotesque Davy Jones and the misshapen crew of the Flying Dutchman; but, there’s also veiled social commentary and an existential conundrum.
With so much happening, the story is complicated but not impossible to follow. Sometimes it is difficult to remember where each character’s loyalty rests, but these are pirates, after all. Alliances are fractured as easily as they are forged, and betrayal is integral to the plot.
“At World’s End” picks up where “Dead Man’s Chest” dropped anchor: Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), prey of the Kracken, has been dragged to a watery grave in Davy Jones’ Locker. When Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) initiates pirate genocide, the nine pirate lords of the Brethren Court are summoned to convene on Shipwreck Island and chart a course of action. Since Sparrow, pirate lord of the Caribbean, failed to appoint a successor, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), set out to rescue him.
Of course, Bloom, Swann, Barbossa and even Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) all harbor hidden agendas. Their treachery and trickery lead to numerous twists and turns in the development of the story.
While Depp clearly captains this ship, dominating every scene in which he appears, the atmosphere and setting cannot be undervalued. From the shadowy docks of Singapore to the seedy citadel on Shipwreck Island, those responsible for set decoration and art direction truly lived up to the legacy left by Walt Disney’s Imagineering and the original Imagineers who envisioned the theme park ride upon which the movie trilogy is based.
Be it Beckett’s opulent quarters aboard the Endeavour or the slimy brig inside the belly of the Flying Dutchman, Verbinski spared no expense to provide a detailed backdrop for his players.
The director didn’t shortchange the audience on the final battle sequence, either. Sparrow’s Black Pearl faces off against the Flying Dutchman in the midst of a maelstrom, while Beckett’s armada prepares to engage a fleet made up of pirates from every corner of the earth.
So, pay no attention to critics who proclaim that Verbinski could have chopped bits and pieces of this tall tale to accommodate those with short attention spans. Ticket prices don’t increase or decrease depending on the length of the film, and “At World’s End” doesn’t squander a second on unnecessary dialogue or pointless plot deviations.
These pirates aren’t plundering the box office … they’re earning every cent of the revenue.