Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is a 2007 epic fantasy swashbuckler film directed by Gore Verbinski, starring Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Chow Yun-Fat, and Geoffrey Rush.  Serving as the third installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean series and sequel to Dead Man’s Chest, following Will Turner, Elizabeth Swann, and Hector Barbossa who rescue Captain Jack Sparrow from Davy Jones’ Locker,  preparing to fight the East India Trading Company, led by Cutler Beckett, who controls Davy Jones.


Positives:

  • Good story
  • Terrific soundtrack
  • Great characters
  • Good action
  • Good humor
  • Great performances
  • Great cast
  • Good visuals
  • Great use of practical and make-up effects
  • Good direction

Negatives:

  • Forced humor
  • Useless characters

Plot:  The plot follows the crew of the Black Pearl rescuing Captain Jack Sparrow from Davy Jone’s Locker, and the preparing to fight the East India Trading Company, led by Cutler Beckett, who controls Davy Jones and plans to extinguish piracy forever.  Pretty intense story filled with treachery among the characters who’re fighting and plotting amongst themselves.  Beckett’s war against piracy keeps the urgency high and the pirates scrambling to come up with a plan keeps it engaging.  Will and Elizabeth’s love story does come to a satisfying ending and their conflicting motivations do make for a compelling story. (3 out of 5)

Characters:  Jack Sparrow (Depp) is a great character and there is this desperation about the character who comes to face his fear of death.  Elizabeth Swann (Knightley) has become stronger since the introduction of her character in Curse of the Black Pearl and her motivation centers on revenge at the death of her father.  She has the bearing of a pirate and has truly come into her own. Will Turner (Bloom) is another protagonist who’s caught up in this hunt for pirates and wants to save his father from the clutches of Davy Jones.  He has his moments where he comes off as a douchebag due to his motivation conflicting with others.  Barbossa is just great, he’s memorable, has some of the best moments and there is this rivalry/respect between him and Sparrow.  The first antagonist of the movie is Cutler Beckett, whose campaign against pirates has left an untold number of lives lost. He’s cool, he’s memorable, he has presence.  The only problem is the character is flat.  There’s nothing to him.  What’s his motivation?   Is it duty? Is it pride? Is it for revenge? Davy Jones is the film secondary antagonist and is more fleshed out, him being seen more as a tragic villain. Sao Feng is a great character but unfortunately he isn’t properly utilized.  Doesn’t make enough of an impact.  (4 out of 5)

Cast:  Great performances by Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Tom Hollander, Geoffrey Rush, and Bill Nighy.  Other performances include Jack Davenport, Kevin McNally, Naomie Harris, Jonathan Pryce, Keith Richards, Stellan Skarsgard, Lee Arenberg, and Mackenzie Crook.  Chow Yun-fat is an awesome actor but doesn’t really have much to do in this film. (5 out of 5)

Visuals: Thumbs up to the beautiful look of the film.  The costume designs look good and the focus of various pirate factions shows the various styles of pirate attire and make-up.  Elizabeth’s is probably my favorite from the bunch.  The set pieces are absolutely great; the ship designs are really cool, the different fortresses feel on point.  The film does maintain a gritty tone and the wideshots of the open ocean is just a beauty to behold.  The character designs for Davy Jones and his crew look great; a terrific blend of make-up, CGI, and motion capture for an effective realistic look.  The climatic battle featuring the two ships battling within a massive whirlpool is a well shot sequence.  Also, got to give it to the exceptionally well choreographed action sequences.  (4 out of 5)

Score:  The music is freaking phenomenal.  There is just an epic, upscale theme that keeps building and building.  Hans Zimmer is just an awesome composer and he delivers. (5 out of 5)

Writing: Again, Gore Verbinski deserves praise for bringing to front another great movie.  He manages to a complex story while keeping it dark, exciting, and action packed.  There is a pretty good balance of humor, action, suspense, and drama.  One of the best sequences of the movie is the final battle with the crew of the Black Pearl are fighting the crew of the Flying Dutchman.  It is a pretty intense scene with so much going on but it is well executed.  One thing that could’ve been addressed (though it is probably better that the film didn’t attempt this because it would’ve been way too much going on) is how the other pirate lords would’ve faired in a battle.  It is cool seeing the two champion ships go at it but the film introduces all of these other characters that aren’t utilized that probably could’ve been better utilized for that sequence.  How cool would it have been to see all of the pirates united as they take on Beckett’s forces.  A missed opportunity.  Also, one thing that the film does stress is how everyone has their own motivations and normally this wouldn’t be a bad thing.  However, it feels so weighed down because everyone’s motivations are prominent. (3 out of 5)


The Verdict: In the end, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is just a great film.  There are some issues with the under utilized characters, pacing, script, and forced humor.  However, the film excels with great performances, great action, terrific special effects, great characters, and an awesome score.  Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End gets 5 out of 5.

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