Friday, February 5, 2010

Review: "At World's End" Excellent Conclusion to Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 03 (of 2010) by Leroy Douresseaux

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)
Running time: 168 minutes (2 hours, 48 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of action/adventure violence and some frightening images
DIRECTOR: Gore Verbinski
WRITERS: Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio; based upon characters created by Stuart Beattie, Jay Wolpert, and Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio and based upon the Walt Disney theme park attraction
PRODUCER: Jerry Bruckheimer
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dariusz Wolski (D.o.P.)
EDITORS: Stephen Rivkin and Craig Wood
Academy Award nominee


Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander, Naomie Harris, Chow Yun-Fat, Jack Davenport, Jonathan Pryce, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Cook, Kevin McNally, Stellan Skarsgård, and Keith Richards

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is an extravagant, entertaining, and exciting finish to the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, which hit a bump with the middle segment, the hugely boring, excessive, and gaudy CGI lump, Dead Man’s Chest.

Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) are allied with the resurrected Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) in a desperate quest to free Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) from the surreal and mind-bending afterlife trap that is Davy Jones' locker. The trio strikes a deal with the Chinese Pirate lord, Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat), for a map to guide them to Davy Jones’ locker.

Meanwhile, Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) of the East India Trading Company has control of the terrifying ghost ship, The Flying Dutchman, and its captain, Davy Jones (Bill Nighy). Doing Beckett’s bidding, Jones and the Dutchman wreak havoc across the Seven Seas, destroying all pirate vessels and helping Beckett achieve his dream of ending piracy.

To save their way of life, Barbossa calls for a truly rare event, a meeting of the Brethren Court, a council the gathers the nine pirate lords of the Seven Seas. Treachery, however, abounds. Both Jack Sparrow and Will Turner secretly plot behind their colleagues’ backs – Sparrow to rid himself of his debt to Davy Jones and Turner to free his father “Bootstrap” Bill Turner (Stellan Skarsgård) from the Dutchman. All must ultimately choose a side in a final, titanic battle, as their lives, fortunes, and the entire future of the freedom-loving pirate way, hangs in the balance.

Amusing and exciting: I can say that about Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, but I certainly couldn’t say that about its predecessor, Dead Man’s Chest (2006). Whereas Dead Man’s Chest was painfully boring, exceedingly dull, and came across a mere filler material between the beginning and end of this story, At World’s End is showy (with costumes and production design that is so lavish it would give the Bourbons pause), amusing (a delightfully spry comedy for such a big budget production), and exciting (a whirlwind adventure that seems to span the seven seas, told in storytelling that is brisk and efficient).

Like they did in the original film, director Gore Verbinski and his stunt and special effects crew blended live action and CGI with such ease that the viewer might have a hard time separating solid realism from the magical un-real of Hollywood FX. In overseeing such an impressive blend of live action stunts and CGI wizardry (perhaps the best union of the two ever put on screen at that time), Verbinksi’s work was worthy of an Oscar nomination (which it didn’t get).

Verbinski’s success in directing this movie was also evident in the performances of his cast. Johnny Deep made Jack Sparrow a richer more dramatic character, and not just caricature fit for no more than merchandising. Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley brought a touch of romantic drama to their characters’ storyline, and in their own way, transformed At World’s End from merely a summer blockbuster into an old-fashioned romantic adventure right out of the 19th century.

7 of 10

2008 Academy Awards: 2 nominations for “Best Achievement in Makeup” (Ve Neill, Martin Samuel) and “Best Achievement in Visual Effect” (John Knoll, Hal T. Hickel, Charlie Gibson, John Frazier)

2008 BAFTA Awards: 1 nomination for “Best Special Visual Effects” (John Knoll, Hal T. Hickel, Charlie Gibson, John Frazier)


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