The third film in the original trilogy, “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” takes everything that I loved about the first film and brings it back to the level of grandeur that was lacking in the second installment. The performances are perfectly on key and the constant side changes keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. The ‘Pirates’ franchise succeeds highly in creating deep and interesting characters and I believe that is what keeps you coming back. Barbossa and Davey Jones rank highly on my favorite characters of all time, showing treachery and villainy, but also showing compassion and humor. The underlying love stories also build off of the first two films nicely and fill in the gaps between action and strategery.
The full cast is back in the third film of the original trilogy, with Barbossa rejoining the ranks and taking the reigns of the “good” guy role (if there ever are any discernible sides). Chow Yun-fat joins the ranks of villains as Captain Sao Feng, one of the nine pirate lords. Right away we find out the big story arc for this final installment of the original trilogy: the pirate song has been sung and now the nine pirate lords must meet to discuss the state of the seas and what is to be done. The problem? Jack Sparrow is one of the pirate lords, and, if you have seen the films in succession, Captain Jack was swallowed with the Black Pearl by the Kracken at the end of “Dead Man’s Chest”.
Together, Captain Barbossa (again reprised by Geoffrey Rush), William Turner (again reprised by Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swan (again reprised by Keira Knightley), and the witch Tia Dalma (played by Naomie Harris) venture to the world’s end to find Jack, who has been abandoned in Davey Jones’s locker to repay his one hundred year debt.
The scenes involving Jack Sparrow in the locker are disturbing at best. With multiple versions of himself crewing the landlocked Black Pearl, Jack has essentially gone mad. The versions of himself carry on throughout the entire film and make for some of the most “kiddish” parts of the film. I am unsure why the writers felt the need to constantly chastise the character of Sparrow with such a diminutive presence, but none-the-less, the headstrong version of Sparrow presents his face ample amounts of time, enough to instill continued faith in the franchise.
The “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise has become synonymous with its intricate web of story-lines, constantly shifting its characters from agenda to agenda, all while forming alliances and then stabbing those alliances in the back when the perfect moment presents itself. But match this with pirate lore, and it comes off authentic. In stories, pirates were never known for their honor and the fact that the side changes mainly happen between the pirates, specifically William Turner and Jack Sparrow, who constantly shift their self interest until the very end of the film, feels natural. I have grown to love this element of the films and though it gets a bad rap for being too confusing, I enjoy the challenge.
The raw nature of the pirate life returns in “At World’s End”. The childish aura of the previous installment (“Dead Man’s Chest”) is glazed over for rich, death-defying sword fights, adult language, and the smothering of a man using tentacles. In the second film, there was an air that no one could die and that even the smallest of characters was immune from death, which has no place in a pirate film. These men are murderous and do not flinch at death, yet when no one dies throughout an entire film, as in the second film, it begins to have that Disney stench to it. “At World’s End”, however, begins with death, as pirates are being hanged left and right, and even a child is eventually hanged before our very eyes. I appreciated the writers returning to the roots of the pirates and I feel it made the third film the masterpiece that it is.
Having all the story-lines come to a head in “At World’s End” is what makes the film so enjoyable. Not only have the plots been thickening throughout all of the films, but you have seen just about every character at each others throat. You feel great when the cocky Lord Beckett is finally speechless, you applaud when William and Elizabeth finally get married, and you laugh when once again Jack Sparrow is left right where we met him at the beginning of the first film. The franchise comes full circle, and though I feel the next installments will not quite live up to the originals, there is a calming sense of closure at the end of the original trilogy.
In succession, the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films are another great American trilogy, that together make a much better film than separated (especially in the case of the second film). With such elaborate characters and an intricate weave of story-lines and agendas, there really is no matching of the pirate lore that comes out of the franchise. Though I could use less Disney and more blood spilling, cut throat pirates, the films tend to work for all age groups at different points in time. Though we have probably seen the last of William Turner and Elizabeth Swan (for now, obviously), Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa will live on in the future installments and, for that, I am excited to see in which direction these characters will be taken.
[Directed by Gore Verbinski] [PG-13] [169 mins] [25 May 2007]