Written by: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief
Well the jig is up; I must admit I didn’t have any insider knowledge when I wrote my time-traveling review of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. In fact, looking at my original article, the story I had concocted in that was more intriguing than the overall film. And this comes from me, a hard-core Pirates fan who saw Curse of the Black Pearl sixteen times in theaters. With that in my past, imagine how difficult it is for me to say this: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is a piece of shit. In writing about At World’s End I couldn’t actually use the format of going through what I got right and what I got wrong, since I got a lot of things completely wrong or merely semi-right. Actually, come to think of it, the story I came up with completely out of my ass is still more intriguing and coherent than the film itself.
Before we go into dissecting the film, for everyone who doesn’t know the story of At World’s End, here it is. Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) and Will (Orlando Bloom) enlist the help of their motley crew, consisting of the same pirates from the first two films and Dead Man’s Chest’s Tia Dalma, to get Jack back from Davy Jones’ locker (did you really think he was dead for good in the second film)? After recovering our hero, the group must then take down the East India Trading Company, led by Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) and Davy Jones himself (Bill Nighy).
Before reviewing this film, I had to take into consideration that both Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End were filmed at the same time, and in an incredibly short amount of time at that, so a lot of its flaws you could sum up to the crew not having a large amount of time to go through the story and polish it. But even forgiving it everything I possibly could, this is still without a doubt the very worst of the trilogy.
Rather than dissect this sorry excuse for a film, here is a PARTIAL list of everything that was either wrong, misleading, or just plain bad about At World's End:
Chow Yun Fat is NOT a major character: Yes, everybody hyped up the angle about going to Singapore and meeting Captain Sao Feng played by Chow Yun Fat. Actually the gang is only in Singapore for about ten minutes in the very beginning of the film, and Feng is not in the film for more than twenty all added up. So if you were going to see this film because of his involvement, save your money.
The angle about the Pirate Lords is picked up and dropped at will: The previews kept showing a giant meeting with the Pirate Lords and Captain Jack “owing them all money.” To be honest, the group meets the Pirate Lords, fights a battle without them, then ends the film saying that the Lords fought the entire time. The Pirate Lords were very interesting characters, I would have loved to have learned more about them, but overall they weren’t actually needed.
Keith Richards is only in the film for about ten minutes…total: Do not believe that Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards (the inspiration for our Captain Jack) is in the film for a long amount of time. He has about ten minutes in the entire film and only says about two lines (only one line with Captain Jack). I was incredibly disappointed since once again, Captain Teague (Richard’s character) was probably more interesting then the main story.
The secondary characters from the first two films are all but worthless here: If you loved James Norrington (Jack Davenport), Lord Cutler Beckett and/or Governor Swann (Jonathan Pryce) then do not see At World’s End; they each have one good scene and then are disposed. It’s actually very sad because these characters showed such promise in the second film, you really thought they would play a hand in the events of the third. Unfortunately, this is not so. It’s almost like the writers realized they had too much and had to trim the fat, and sadly, this fat needed to stay in.
If you are a poor listener, or get easily confused, AVOID THIS MOVIE AT ALL COSTS: I always listen and understand film plots, but if you look away for even a second, you'll miss entire sections of At World’s End. The film has so many double, triple, and quadruple crosses, including enough subplots to fill Germany, that if you take even a second to sip your soda you will be confused for the rest of the film. At almost three hours, did we honestly need to include EVERYTHING? Perhaps the worst part of this is that each of these dozen or so plots all seemed to promise a tied-together payoff at the end, yet this too failed to happen in any way.
If you’re a Will and Elizabeth fan, then you can go to hell: Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom fan (more the latter if you go to my MySpace and look at a picture of my room), but these two characters have honestly the worst storyline in the film. Both actors just seem to be phoning in their performances as it is, but they spend the whole time bickering in the beginning only to have the most ridiculous wedding ceremony I’ve seen in my life in the end. Also, if you bring small children you might want to leave within the last ten minutes, as there is a heavily implied sex scene (yes: sex in a Disney film) that results in something I don’t think you want to explain to your children at a young age.
Unless you like acid trips, this isn’t the film for you: A couple times during At World's End, I found myself wondering if I wasn't maybe watching Johnny Depp’s other film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Depp’s character has always been weird, but this installment cranks Sparrow’s eccentricities up to 11. We meet Depp in the middle of the desert and what follows is a twenty minute scene of him talking to various copies of himself, fighting over a peanut no less. This continues throughout the entire movie with Depp talking to various versions of him. It was funny for the first ten minutes, not any longer.
Did I actually enjoy anything about At World’s End? Yes, but it was mostly the special effects. The story is way too convoluted and probably has one of the worst endings I’ve seen in awhile. It also didn’t help that they played the Evan Almighty trailer before it. The story just got too grandiose for its own good, not to mention its way too long. I wanted it to be something special, something great to close out the series, but it’s just way too full of itself to be enjoyable.
Author: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief
Kristen Lopez is the editor-in-chief of CC2K and a freelance pop culture essayist. Her work has appeared on Roger Ebert, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Daily Beast. When she’s not burning down Film Twitter she runs two podcasts, the female-centric film show Citizen Dame, and the classic film-themed Ticklish Business.