Monday, September 1, 2014

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007) Review:

When a sequel performs just as well at the box office as its predecessor, viewers know that a third entry is already underway in hopes of making a trilogy. This was no shock at all to viewers when Pirates of Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) blew away the competition when released. In fact, the entire cast began preparing for the third, simultaneously while completing the first sequel. These particular preemptive steps are not uncommon, but risky if plans did not go accordingly. Thankfully for them, their hunch was right. As for this particular entry, it continues to maintain the fun factor in multiple aspects of the film. Yet, there are a few things that don't work this time.

Off to find Ol' Jacky boyyy
For one thing, the continuity remains faithful to the last two films. After Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) died and went to Davy Jones' Locker, Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Capt. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) join together to find a way to get Sparrow back. The catch, is that it requires more help than they think. Also returning is Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) who make a temporary alliance to help get what they want as well. And as for every other character from the last two films, they appear too, plus a little extra. For example, Naomie Harris as the witch, Tia Dalma, returns for a larger role, Chow Yun-Fat plays a Pirate lord from Singapore and even Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones has a minor but entertaining role. The best part of these casting decisions is that the new and old characters have the right charisma for each role and are likable on screen.

Unfortunately with this comes a price. The drawback being that there are too many individual character story lines. It's overwhelming and confusing at the same time. Will Turner, Jack Sparrow, Davy Jones, Capt. Barbossa, Cutler Beckett, and Elizabeth Swann all have their own agendas of which none agree with anybody else's goals. With this, the end results in quite a cluttered story with several subplots – it’s not easy to follow. And the fact that its not easy to follow is the most surprising part. With a running time clocking in at almost 3 hours, one would think that there would be enough time to fully understand each character’s plan, but only a few are actually understandable. Plus, not every viewer can sit through a movie close to 3 hours. The story telling has to be really focused and unfortunately Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot just put in too much all at once. I guess they forgot bigger isn't always better.

The only other problem this film has is that again, with it having the longest running time thus far, it feels like it also contains less action sequences that the last two. Or at least the action feels more sporadic. It's disappointing because a 20-minute finale sometimes doesn't make up for lost time in-between. Thankfully, the special effects do mesh well with the live-action and when there is action, it does entertain. Sword fighting and cannon fire is exciting to watch at sea. So that's not to say that these two writers from the last two films didn't do anything else right. There are also several moments of comedy throughout and they all don't belong to Johnny Depp either. Mainly Geoffrey Rush has several comical lines but so do various shipmates as well.

Chow Yun-Fat
Cinematography as always looked great. Dariusz Wolski maintains his steady hand getting great shots of the sea and various islands. It should make viewers feel like that's where they should go for their next vacation. Lastly, the musical score was produced by ever-popular Hans Zimmer. For the most part, Zimmer continues to sustain his catchy pirate themes for Jack Sparrow and the franchise. But for this entry, Zimmer includes some new tunes of which some come across as more bizarre than engaging. An example would be when Sparrow is in Davy Jones' Locker. Zimmer just plays "boing-boing" sounds. It does represent the scene accurately because Jones' Locker is weird, but it feels like there could've been a better way to express it. It's not as strong as the last two but it still has a level of quality and entertainment.

Its cast and crew preserve the traits of the last two movies with its set of likable characters, catchy music, energetic action and special effects. The biggest problem with this entry is that with too many smaller story lines cluttering the main plot, it can get tiring to follow with a clear understanding. Plus, with a running time close to 3 hours, it may lose its viewer's interest by then.

Points Earned --> 7:10

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