I just saw Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End tonight. And while I would have to see it again before I said it was necessarily better than the first two movies, I would say that it is at least as good. Director Gore Verbinski has achieved something rather remarkable for the genre of pirate movies. He has directed three of them in a row and every single one of them are of the best calibre of films.
Indeed, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End has everything a fine pirate movie needs. The plot is wonderfully complex; every single character has his or her agenda, and they don't always agree with the others (some critics will try to tell you the plot is convoluted, but as far as I am concerned anyone with an ounce of intelligence will have no problem following it). There is plenty of backstabbing and betrayal as the characters scramble to achieve what they want. Indeed, one cannot say that Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End lacks for unexpected plot twists. These are true pirates, people for whom honesty is not always the best policy.
The nearly constant betrayals and jockeying for position on the part of the characters makes Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End a darker film over all than the first two. Indeed, with Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander) and the East India Trading Company (which actually existed and really did try to create a monopoly on the seas, but not quite the way they do in the movie....) and Davy Jones Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End has some of the best villains of any pirate movie. Basil Rathbone would be proud. That is not to say that Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is a film without humour. As usual, Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow is good for a laugh. And inept pirates Pintel (Lee Arenberg) and Ragetti (Mackenzie Crook) are back in this film with some of the best lines. Indeed, even inept Marines Murtog (Angus Barnett) and Mulroy (Giles New) are back to lend some comedy relief.
Of course, perhaps the most necessary ingredient in any pirate film is action and lots of it. And there is no shortage of action is Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. This movie not only features some of the best swordplay in any movie, but some truly exciting ship battles as well. Indeed, the climax features what may well be the best ship to ship battle in any pirate or naval film. And as might be expected, Jack Sparrow gets his final showdown with Davy Jones in what is a sword fight worthy of Errol Flynn.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is helped immensely by its talented cast. There is one off key performance in the bunch. Indeed, it was good to see the great Chow Yun-Fat as Singaporean pirate Captain Sao Feng. OF course, the actors' jobs are made all the more easier by a well written script in which every character is very well developed and three dimensional. When taken alongside the complex plot, it can truly be said that Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is a pirate movie with some actual depth. While Gore Vebinski may not top too many people's list of great directors, his direction more than fits the film, keeping it steady and on course.
Over all Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is a fine conclusion to a great trilogy of films. In a summer of threequels when two so far have been major disappointments (Spider-Man 3 and Shrek the Third), it is good to see one that finally delivers the goods. It's the most fun I've had at the movies all year.
TCM Classic Film Festival 2016 Coverage
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