Sunday, August 05, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

2007, US, directed by Gore Verbinski
The third installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is a enjoyably shaggy finale that does its best to tie up vast swathes of plot, giving most of its numerous characters a suitable send-off (in one case taking an entirely unforeseen route), while introducing new elements to this particular world. While the film is occasionally confusing, with so many disparate strands interwoven, that's as much due to the gap since last viewing the first and second films than to any weaknesses on the part of the filmmakers (I tend to agree with Henry Jenkins's very fine analysis, which, while conceding some faults, argues that the filmmakers expect not a dumbed-down but a well-informed audience, something many newspaper critics can't quite grasp).

The most obvious point of comparison here is with the third of the Lord of the Rings films, which is also quite encumbered with plots in need of resolution (to the point that director Peter Jackson stages multiple climactic endings, as if to underline the need to appropriately conclude each part of the narrative, and give the characters the screen time the viewer feels is their due). Although there's a radical difference in their origins - with Pirates emerging from a theme-park ride, as opposed to from a pre-formed literary trilogy - director Gore Verbinski marshals his resources in a similar manner, cross-cutting effectively between the various portions of his story, and demanding that the viewer remain attentive over a lengthy running time. While the first film was focused to a great degree on Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow, the second and third films use him more sparingly (though he does have several extraordinary, surreal sequences in which multiple Jack Sparrows ensure that the film is adequately dosed with the character), choosing instead to explore yet further shores in the pirates' world, most notably - here - the scenes set in Singapore and in Pirates' Cove, memorable amalgamations of old and new effects, with the latter also enhanced by an arresting, and amusing, cameo from Keith Richards.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States