Review: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END (2007) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 29 May 2011



Remember the time when THE MATRIX RELOADED (2003) fused with so much creative energy and all those roller-coasting cinematic experience, only to be a polar opposite a few months later in THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS? History is repeating itself in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END, a surprisingly disappointed third and possibly the last installment of the highly successful franchise. Whereas DEAD MAN'S CHEST that screened last summer promised enough rip-roaring adventure of pure entertainment and pulpy, if overstuffed mixture of mythology, AT WORLD'S END takes a 180-degree turn: the fun and enthusiasm previously displayed in the first two PIRATES installments are running out of steam. And though credits should goes to the filmmakers for making this third installment a tad darker for what has come before, the result remains misguided, soulless and worst still, tiresome.

Towards the dramatic cliffhanger finale in DEAD MAN'S CHEST (2006), we witnessed Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) was being swallowed by the monstrous squid, Kraken. Now it's up to Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), newly resurrected Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush, who appeared in the first installment) and voodoo priestess Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) setting off to rescue Jack Sparrow. They make a stop in Singapore to retrieve a special map from Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat), before proceeding their next journey off the sea, en route to the netherworld of Davy Jones' Locker, in which Jack Sparrow is trapped there.

And there's more: the British East India Tea Company, lead by the merciless and business-minded Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) is hell-bent to make the world safe by hanging pirates and other accomplices but still can't get rid of the fellow Caribbean he wanted them the most. So he uses Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and the legendary ghost ship, The Flying Dutchman, to help him eliminate the whole pirates operation once and for all, because he has Jones' heart on his keepsake. Realizing Lord Beckett and his company are setting off an all-out war against pirates, Captain Barbossa and the rest of the gang, including Jack Sparrow they later rescued him, gather together the Nine Lords of the Brethren Court (sort of like United Nations for pirates) in a bid to cooperate each other and defeat Lord Beckett.

If that's aren't bulky enough, there's more plot than you can ever imagined as each characters seem to have personal agendas of their own: Jack Sparrow is particularly very interested on the special map Captain Barbossa have in his possession; there's a backstory behind the curse and the forbidden lovers between Davy Jones and the goddess Calypso, who is being bound in human form and an effort is made to free her, and not to mention the whole twisted "who's-betraying-who" double-triple crosses galore that involves between Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, Elizabeth Swann, Captain Barbossa, Lord Beckett and Davy Jones in favor to get what they want.

Like DEAD MAN'S CHEST, this third installment is crammed with too much plot, subplot and counter-plot that needed badly for proper trimming but director Gore Verbinski, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and screenwriters team Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio simply having their field day elaborating whatever ideas they have compiled and let them rip off wildly off the course.

At the beginning, the multiple twists-and-turns occurred in the middle part of the movie is intriguing but gradually grows tired and annoying, especially when Verbinski and his company doesn't have a single clue when to stop for a breather. The movie is also admittedly a butt-numbing experience. Clocking at 168-minutes, which nearly three-hours long, it's simply overlong and overexposed. The heavily and painfully convoluted story is also taking toll to tie all the loose ends for what has come before, but most of the payoffs are either trite or sketchily-resolved.

Perhaps the biggest problem that separated between DEAD MAN'S CHEST and AT WORLD'S END, and to certain extent, the original PIRATES as well, is absolutely lack of refreshing angle to give audiences something more than just the same old stuff. Other than introducing a group of Chinese pirates lead by Captain Sao Feng, there's nothing really worth writing home about.

The movie also feels somewhat anticlimactic, especially with all the heavy burden audiences have to bear a long hours tolerating bulky plot to get through the finale. If you're expecting an out-of-this-world explosive end, you'll be greatly disappointed: All the filmmakers can think off is an annoying repeat of countless cannonball explosions, lame swordfights and the likes that the supposedly epic battle at the ship in the midst of a maelstrom resulted in a huge whimper.

Despite most of the wrong turns Verbinski and his company has hurt the third installment, the movie still have its moment. Verbinski hasn't losing his touch on comedy department, especially whenever it involves Jack Sparrow. The most hilarious of all is none others than the surrealistic, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH-esque sequence in which Jack and a small army of his own self are talking to each other, and that includes where he encounters a white rock on the wide open white desert, which can actually transformed into a crab-like creature and another one, where he is locked inside the prison. Also worth mentioning, is any shown-stealing performance featured that undead monkey and the parrot. The much-touted cameo appearance of Rolling Stones' guitarist Keith Richards as Jack's dad, Captain Teague is anything but cool.

Too bad most of the cast are obviously showing signs of restraint (cause of exhaustion, perhaps?). Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow is as loony as ever and in fact he's the only saving grace that makes this movie from a complete disaster. Orlando Bloom continues to bore off the screen with his bland expression, while Keira Knightley, who never shorts of stunning, doesn't add much weight either. Not surprisingly though, their on-and-off romance that charted from the beginning of the first film until this one aren't much to care about. And speaking of that, I really hope that the filmmakers could have juiced up the conflicted love triangle between Sparrow, Turner and Swann. Geoffrey Rush, who is so deliciously evil in the first movie, is sadly reduced into mere caricature, while Chow Yun-Fat, who supposedly to provide fresh angle to the installment, is criminally underused and worst, his character is killed off way fast enough before you can even root for him yet. For Bill Nighy's Davy Jones, the less said about him the better because all he does throughout the film is sulking and grumbling you might end up watching him twitching his tentacles instead.

Likewise, the production notes are top-notch, if nothing really eye-popping. With all the creative flairs Verbinski and his company has obviously exhausted entirely in DEAD MAN'S CHEST, what's left here is only a leftover. By the time the movie wraps up into a conclusion, you couldn't have care less about the fate for these characters.

Whether it's ever a good idea to conclude with an open ending (yup, there's a possible door for fourth installment), I suppose that three PIRATES movies are more than enough. That of course, if this third movie make tons of money... If you still care, stick till the end credit where you catch a footage of the needless "10-years later" coda involving Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann and their son. So much for the huge anticipation and all those months of wait after the event of DEAD MAN'S CHEST only ends up little.

No comments: