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PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) embark on a desperate quest to gather the heads of all the pirate clans, the Nine Lords of the Brethren Court, their only hope to defeat Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander), the Flying Dutchman, and his Armada. But one of the Lords is missing: Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), either the best or worst pirate ever, and now trapped in Davy Jones Locker. But even with Jack somehow, mysteriously, back in the bosom of the Brethren, and even after acquiring the necessary charts from Chinese pirate Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat), the motley crew has to deal with betrayals and hidden agendas before facing the mother of all sea battles that could see the freedom loving pirates eradicated from the face of the earth.

Review by Louise Keller:
Interminable, with more plot lines than pirates, At World's End is a mix of theatrical bravura, magical special effects and tedium. Clocking in at 168 minutes, Gore Verbinski's third film based on Disney's spectacular Pirates of the Caribbean theme ride is blatantly self-indulgent as a muddle of 15 stories swirl together like an impressive whirlwind whipping up flashes of brilliance amid the chaos. The film is a bit like a journey on a tempestuous ocean with mountainous highs and fathomless lows. I was confused, enthralled, dazzled and bored.

It's not about living forever; the trick is living with yourself, says Rolling Stone Keith Richards, who plays Jack Sparrow's pirate father in a cameo that is small, but leaves its mark. In fact, the highpoint is the cumulative effect of memorable moments which build and leave us with a rich, complex and colourful palette of vignettes. There's Bill Nighy's heartless Davy Jones picking up a single tear with one of his long tentacles ('Cruel is a matter of perspective'); a boat full of Johnny Depps; a sea filled with floating ghosts; a marriage conducted in the middle of swordplay under torrential skies; ocean madness as the Black Pearl capsizes in upside-down logic.

Johnny Depp is the anchor, albeit wobbly by intent, as he waltzes through it all with slur and swagger as the inimitable Jack Sparrow. Geoffrey Rush is in top form as Barbossa and Stellan Skarsgård solid as Bootstrap. Each character has its own agenda; what one may consider to be betrayal, another may deem to be good business. Despite extraordinary attention to detail, the spectacular 18th century Singapore set piece in the steamy bathhouse of Chow Yun Fat's duplicitous Captain Sao Feng is more confusing than satisfying, I am sad to say. Performances, costumes, production design and special effects are marvellous, but in the final analysis, give me a coherent story any day. The heart of any film is its story, and we know what happens when there is no heart.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
I could happily watch Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush and Bill Nighy just cavorting about the deck of a pirate ship in their characters, the latter invisible under the tentacles he wears for a face as a result of a curse (long story, but Calypso the sea goddess is implicated). But even that could get tedious after three hours unless they were telling a gripping story. And a gripping story that I could follow. So, unless I'm a real lame-brain, clarity of storytelling is not an award this film will win. The big problem with this is that if we can't follow the details, we don't get involved, we start to fidget and slowly care less and less about what happens to whom.

Younger fans will nevertheless enjoy the visual stimulation of a fantasy world where anything is possible, where fish people and barnacle people collide with uniformed soldiers, world pirates (as in world music) and mysterious forces from the deep. Ferocious battles, scheming baddies and valiant heroes populate this world - for the third time - but while there is more and more thrown up on the screen, there is less and less sticking to our hearts and minds.

A spectacle with little meaning, Pirates 3 has plenty of energy, though; Gore Verbinski's orchestration is never flabby, and his editors have wrangled this huge beast of a movie into less than three hours of action (plus 12 minutes of credits). Also remarkable is the fortitude of the cast, who, in the face of blue screens and water hoses, make it all seem real. And here's the irony: the characters are all solid; these creations work in context as real characters - even when they are surreal. The frictions, the romance, the enmity and the betrayals are all grounded in strong characters and genuine dramatic values - it's the execution of the story that undermines it all. (That, plus lots of lost lines of dialogue ...)

In simplistic terms, Pirates 3 is a chase movie with comedic elements; this is where Johnny Depp excels, having by now refined his slightly fey Jack Sparrow, and equipped him with a dozen variations of his persona, each set to amuse us. He's the real pirate, stealing the whole film.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 2
Mixed: 0

GEOFFREY RUSH INTERVIEW

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END, THE (M)
(US, 2007)

CAST: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, Bill Nighy, Jonathan Price, Tom Hollander, Stellan Skarsgard, Naomie Harris, Jack Davenport

PRODUCER: Jerry Bruckheimer

DIRECTOR: Gore Verbinski

SCRIPT: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dariusz Wolski

EDITOR: Stephen E. Rivkin, Craig Wood

MUSIC: Hans Zimmer

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Rick Heinrichs

RUNNING TIME: 168 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: BVI

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 24, 2007







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