Follow Us on Twitter

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

DOUBLE DISC SET SPECIAL FEATURES: Keith & The Captain – On Set With Johnny Depp And The Rock Legend; Bloopers Of The Caribbean; Deleted Scenes With Optional Audio Commentary By Director Gore Verbinski; The Tale Of Many Jacks; Anatomy Of A Scene – The Maelstrom; Masters Of Design – Creating The Pirates’ World; The World Of Chow Yun-Fat; Inside The Brethern Court; The Pirate Maestro – The Music Of Hans Zimmer; Hoist The Colours – The Story Behind The Song.

IT MAY lack the freshness of the inspired original but Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End still has plenty of wind in its sails thanks to another winning performance from Johnny Depp and the return of Geoffrey Rush.

Gore Verbinski’s third film is a flabby, often self-indulgent blockbuster that could easily have sunk under the weight of its faults.

But while darker and more self-important there’s still plenty in its locker to keep audiences entertained in spite of a running time that approaches three hours.

The film picks up after the events of Dead Man’s Chest as Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) find themselves allied with the resurrected Captain Barbossa (Rush) in their quest to free Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) from his mind-bending fate in Davy Jones’ locker.

Once freed, the pirates must unite against the might of Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and The Flying Dutchman – now allied to the East India Trading Company and its treacherous leader Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) – in a bid to protect their freedom-loving Pirate way.

The biggest problem with At World’s End is that – like Spider-Man 3 – it’s trying to cram too much in. The film is needlessly complex and over-burdened with too many stories and characters, meaning that the weaker elements appear more obvious.

The shortcomings of Bloom and Knightley [as Turner and Swann] are particularly exposed as they lack the charisma needed to keep their on-off relationship interesting. While new characters such as Chow Yun-Fat’s Chinese pirates Sao Feng don’t really add anything to proceedings.

Some of the more extravagant touches – such as an extended sequence inside Davy Jones’ locker that features numerous Captain Jacks – also feel unnecessary.

But the film stays afloat by playing to the strengths of its biggest assets – notably Depp, Rush and Nighy.

Captain Jack Sparrow retains that consistent ability to mix camp humour with swashbuckling verve and has plenty of moments to savour, while Rush and Nighy continue to provide useful foils to Depp and deliver their lines with relish.

Nighy, especially, manages to inject a great deal of humanity into Jones’ story arc and is rewarded with a nice make-up free moment, while Rush provides a keen reminder of why the character of Barbossa was such a key component in the original’s success.

The likes of Tom Hollander, Naomie Harris, Mackenzie Crook and Jack Davenport continue to impress in spite of their limited opportunity.

Verbinski, meanwhile, ensures that the special effects maintain the high standards set by both predecessors and injects the numerous set pieces with a keen sense of fun and ingenuity (including an early Singapore battle, the climactic fight and several nice nods to Sergio Leone).

And the long-mooted cameo from Keith Richards as Captain Jack’s dad is well-timed and suitably well played (complete with the appearance of a guitar from the Rolling Stones legend).

But the overall impression is one of happiness tinged with regret. The ride has become a lot more choppy with age even though Depp’s loose cannon continues to keep it firing in the right direction.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 168mins