‘At World’s End’ is the better of the two films: funnier, more imaginative and with less of a rush towards its finale. Like the first two Pirates films, it’s a refreshing romp, a gleefully, unashamedly over the top swashbuckler filled with salty sea dogs, swordplay and black magic. The Spiderman films take themselves more seriously, which – when done well – adds depth. But, when done badly, comes off as melodrama.
Don’t bother going to see ‘At World’s End’ if you haven’t seen ‘Dead Man’s Chest’. They’re part of the same story and ‘At World’s End’ is hard enough to follow if you have seen the earlier film.
‘At World’s End’ opens with the resurrected Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and William Turner (Orlando Bloom) trying to find a way to bring Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) back from the afterlife Davey Jones (Bill Nighy) sent him to. The first stop is Singapore, home of Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat), one of the nine pirate lords who must gather to face Jones and the mighty British East India Company. The Company’s leader, Lord Cutler Bennett, is determined to wipe out piracy and rule the seas himself.
What follows is a globe and netherworld-spanning adventure that nearly gets sunk by a needlessly tangled plot. You need a scorecard to keep track of who is betraying who and why. It’s best just to forget about it, go with the flow, and admire the string of vividly imaginative and magnificently shot scenes. With scurvy pirates swinging cutlasses and firing cannons from the dark, sweaty dens of Singapore, to flows of ice, to a surreal desert, and beyond, ‘At World’s End’ has enough spectacle and action to make you forgive its length and other flaws.
Most of those flaws are familiar ones. Knightley and Bloom are as bland as ever, with Knightley in particular apparently lack the acting skills to do anything more than look beautiful and annoyed. Their love triangle with Captain Jack has never held any interest except for giving Depp a few good lines. To be fair though, I did like the way it was resolved.
She certainly pales next to Nighy, Depp and Rush, who are clearly enjoying themselves. Of these heavyweights, it’s Rush who steals the movie. Captain Jack is still very amusing, but we have seen most of his tricks and quirks. Rush though, is the epitome of everything piratical - dastardly, charismatic, leering and apparently unable to speak without saying ‘yaaar’. Though, had he been given longer on screen, the effortlessly cool Keith Richards might have given Rush a run for his dubloons.
You can say ‘At World’s End’ is overlong, indulgent and confusing, and you’d not be wrong. But it’s still a pirate’s life for me.
p.s. There’s a nice bit after the end credits.
Lauren’s two cents
This movie is fun. Go to it for a laugh, but turn off your critical censor first. I haven’t laughed so much in a movie for a long time, and the funny bits made the annoying Keira “I have only one facial expression and like to clench my teeth” Knightely scenes easier to forgive. A great way to spend a Saturday night, as long as you don’t pay too much attention to the plot.