How many lives does Jack Sparrow have? A lot. How many times can Gore Verbinski and Jerry Bruckheimer dip into the Pirates of the Caribbean without failing the fans? Twice apparently.
The third entry into the wildly popular and insanely profitable Pirates series is too much of a good thing. Not the swashbuckling sword fighting, over the top action, and witty humor we’ve all come to expect, mind you. No, it’s far too much useless plot for one movie.
To say the storyline behind the action is lost on the audience is an understatement. Questions abound, both because plot holes are created when comparing the first two films and because the story is nothing more than baffling double, triple, and quadruple crosses. It’s amazing the director, editors, and writers actually understood how all of this fits together.
If you can imagine what it’s like to grab a stack of likable characters and mindlessly have them spout off dialogue that leads to nowhere, you have this third sequel. Davy Jones, Elizabeth Swann, and Will Turner can never seem to make up their minds as to whom they’re fighting for or why. Neither can the audience, and clarification is never given.
The whimsical Jack Sparrow is given a surprisingly limited amount of screen time, disappointing as this is Johnny Depp in perfect form. Forget his epic, over the top fights from the first two films as well. There’s one on the mast of a ship, and even this is cut in the middle to focus on a different plot line before randomly coming back to it before it’s over.
Yet another story concerns the story building up the character Calypso (which somehow escaped mention in the first two films). When the reveal comes, it’s in astonishingly bad form, both from a visual effects perspective and the audience’s means to suspend disbelief for only so long before they can’t take that extra step. A grating, Hollywood romance doesn’t help either.
Granted, the comedy factor is still in full force. This is arguably the funniest film in the series, and any movie that manages to find a purpose to shoot a monkey out of a cannon deserves special mention. The special effects are of course spot on, particularly during the rain-soaked finale. There are some amazing sights, particularly the death of one enemy aboard a ship. Then again, it’s hard to tell if he’s on the side of good or evil by that point.
Chow Yun Fat is wasted as a Chinese captain, introduced and then dropped in an extended storyline that could have been condensed into about ten minutes. At nearly three hours, plenty should have been trimmed and cut, likely leading to a less convoluted plot and fewer new characters to introduce. With so many faces to follow, fan favorites seem to be pushed aside to make room.
Those looking for other action will be sorely disappointed as well. It’s sparse, held off for the big finale that never really comes. There are small, surprisingly violent skirmishes that push the PG-13 rating to its limit throughout, though At World’s End fails to provide the massive set pieces provided by prior offerings. Numerous scenes are of characters discussing how they’ll take over a ship or betray one other, when this would have worked just fine as a standard good versus evil affair.
Those who stay after the credits (as you should with all three movies in the Pirates series) only have yet another question to be answered simply due to poor writing, possibly two. Is he back for one day or forever when the curse is lifted? It’s a fitting end for this one that is fully content to roll along to arrive at the massive action during the finale without a care as to what it’s giving the moviegoer in the meantime.