Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End DVD Review
By Prairie Miller
Not for the logically minded or the seasick prone, Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End, like its two predecessors, is a dizzying concoction of multiple simultaneous stories taking place either in the real world or anybody's unhinged imagination, take your pick. In other words, turn your head just a little to the right or left while gazing at the movie at any time, and it's like you're all of a sudden in some character or other's completely different story. And you'll be fine if you just go along for the ride, and don't ask any questions.
Pirates 3 can be additionally perplexing for the uninitiated, and without the voyage roadmap and scorecard for the multiplicity of characters of the first two installments, you'll feel especially lost at sea in more ways than one. It's kind of like mad genius director Gore Verbinski and his super-crazed cast of characters have invited you to the party, but you'll have to navigate the turbulent waters of the narrative quite on your own.
For those interested in Pirate 3 trivia like an actual plot line, this 3-quel picks up somewhat where Pirates 2 left off. Sailing off to the end of the world to bring supremely disoriented Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) back from the dead and fight new battles, are sulking Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), tomboyish pouting dangerous lady Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), and the menacing undead Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). The demise of the Age of Piracy is threatened by the dreaded Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) in the service of the East India Company, and Admiral Norrington (Jack Davenport) who has commandeered the Flying Dutchman ghost ship of monstrously tentacled Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) in search of pirate ships to summarily eradicate across the seven seas.
Clearing the decks of any traditionally requisite story line and out to let the chips fall where they may, Verbinski stages a bold mutiny against formalities like time and space, replacing those constraints with reality-defying comic hallucinations and chaotic brawling revelry. The centerpiece of this surreal swashbuckling madness is of course Sparrow, who stumbles along through his own elaborate weird parallel universe, dragging a necessarily up-for-anything audience with him. These inspired supernatural episodes include Sparrow's confrontational encounter with his cloned many selves, one of whom perches on his shoulder, and licking rocks that turn into crabs scuttling across a vast desert where his beached ship has run aground.
Less effective and diminished by consistently murky visuals are the soggy vignettes transpiring in the real world, and tangled up with these far more seductive, bewitching dreamscapes. Underwhelming in that regard is the motley crew's nasty encounter at Singapore's seedy steambaths with shrewd madman Chinese pirate Sao Feng (Crouching Tiger's Chow Yun-Fat). And whenever the monotony of just too much frenzied swordplay wears thin, a mesmerizing side show pops up out of nowhere, like the eerie floating ghosts just beneath the high seas.
But for the audience with the patience to wade through this nearly three hour excursion that also piles on credits clocking in at a whopping twelve minutes, Keith Richards' famed cameo as Sparrow's pirate father, in no way disappoints, however brief. Armed with the Pirata Codex, a kind of bare bones rule book establishing a dubious honor among thieves for the instinctively anarchistic pirates, Richards' crusty old pirate soon hardly seems to care, settling back to strumming instead on a vintage guitar. Well worth the wait as long as you don't blink an eye before that glorious moment is all gone, matey.
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
DVD Features (only on Blu-Ray): Audio Commentary, Filmmaker's Commentary, and Bloopers of the Caribbean.
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