And finally I come to a close on my watching of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy with At World’s End, and oh boy is this one a doozy. I know I said Dead Man’s Chest had its weird moments, but it seemed like the studio really wanted Jack Sparrow to be much of the focus of this film. So with a script that shoves in more elements to an already stuffed film, At World’s End has too many things it needs to wrap up in order for it to be a proper film. I will hold nothing back against this film in its entirety and what I truly feel about it, so it will contain a few spoilers for the past few films and some for this one. There is almost three hours to this mess so I would love to take a proper jab at it having suffered through it.
At World’s End manages to be the worst explained and handled of the Pirates trilogy for multiple reasons, but starting off it has to be the story and its horrid pacing. All of a sudden we are shoved into multiple plot lines not touched upon in the previous Pirates films. Now this wouldn’t be a terrible problem, because Dead Man’s Chest had the same problem with the introduction of Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) into the plot feeling a bit forced. The main reason is how many plot points were shoved into this film for the first time coming out of left field with little payoff. We are introduced to Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat) in Singapore with his pirate crew, introduced to the idea of a Brethren Court of pirates, using nine pieces of eight to awaken the sea goddess Calypso, and pirates fearing being outed by the East Indian Trading Company and Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) all the while they need to tackle the plots from the previous film. There is the saving of Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), talking about the revival of Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) at the end of the last film by Tia Dalma (Naomi Harris), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) trying to save his father, Jack trying to still be free with more oddness to his scenes, Cutler Beckett and his agenda of ruling the waters, Davy Jones and being put on a leash by Beckett, let’s not forget the trailblazing Elizabeth (Kiera Knightley) and whatever she plans on doing in this film, you have her father still under the control of Beckett, you have Norrington (Jack Davenport) siding with Beckett and how the heck are they going to tie up his storyline. As you can see…this film is far too overstuffed and on top of that they still try to shove the romance subplot between Elizabeth and Will in the film which reaches ridiculous heights. This is far too long-winded, but this is essentially everything this film needs to do.
The sorry state of its bloated plot forces them to rush scenes quite often, except for when Jack Sparrow is involved. Depp is allowed to do whatever he wants in this film it seems because Jack’s character gets some really weird moments that puts Dead Man’s Chest to shame with its toe necklace scene. Jack Sparrow goes completely mental when stuck in Davy Jones’ Locker and starts to imagine versions of himself being his crew in multiple situations throughout the film. Sometimes miniature versions of himself on his shoulders, or himself as a pirate under Davy Jones where he licks his own brain for some reason. I still want to know who okays this type of stuff! It is baffling and confusing how Jack even while dead for almost 40 minutes of the film still manages to be the most predominant element of the film. Jack is just as egotistical as ever, but the charm simply has worn off for the most part with a lot of his dialogue and scenes only shining every once in a while.
A lot of characters are thrown to the wayside in this film. Jonathan Pryce as Governor Swann is shafted by being killed off with only one line said and gets this forced send off to give Elizabeth purpose for revenge in this film. James Norrington has a part in this which has one great line tying up his character, but it feels very rushed in comparison to the time he gets in the film. Bootstrap Bill Turner (Stellan Skarsgard) is in this film to my memory showing up for more convenience sake when the film needs someone to mess with a character on board the Dutchman. Sao Feng is literally there for a few interesting scenes and a way to grab the location to Davy Jones’ Locker, but after that you could honestly remove him to the film and it wouldn’t matter. It baffles me how Chow Yun-Fat, who is a great action star with a few John Woo films to his filmography, was never given any action or well written scenes. Instead he is relegated to the bench for more Jack Sparrow. Pintel (Lee Arenberg) and Ragetti (Mackenzie Crook) were given great scenes in the last film and do have a couple of goofy scenes in this one. They are sadly more understated in the second half of the film with little to do with any interesting action scene which angers me since their action scene in Dead Man’s Chest was fabulous.
“Our destinies have been entwined, Elizabeth, but never joined.”
– James Norrington
The villains of this film are slightly better used then those stated above with some surprisingly good scenes. I would even give the best scene of the film to Cutler Beckett as his ship crashes all around him and he is just walking through it being destroyed so calmly unaware that he had been outplayed. It is a fantastic and poetic moment in the film that really ties up his character no matter how scattered in depth he is in these films. They introduce him more as a problem that needs to be solved than a character in this film, he has some cool scenes and lines but the character around him was never given time to flourish. Tom Hollander is still amazing in the role though, when you see him and Depp discuss business it is one of the best edited scenes. Davy Jones was actually menacing and fleshed out in the film this time. While it does happen and Nighy gets some great emoting scenes even under all of that CGI, Davy Jones becomes a one note character. He has no purpose as the film goes on other than to be a villain at the end of the day only establishing some of his personality right before the climatic fight sequence in the end.
Will and Elizabeth lose any semblance of character in this film as the romance subplot creeps over their characters. They start to fight with drivel like, “He will never trust me again” and how can he not trust me and how hypocritical Will is and I hate this romantic subplot! It is just ridiculous how all of the good moments of Will and Elizabeth in the past films talking with other characters is replaced with more relationship troubles. If the romance was portrayed well in the previous films I would actually care about their turmoil and their melancholic end yet they never did a good enough job to make me care. It is a bland romance that halts their character depth and development consistently. Elizabeth turns into a more “cool” female character with guns and swords and some strong “cool” moments without any clout to them other than she needs to look important and awesome. I feel like she is just stagnant throughout the film and relegated to having a cool moment every once in a while, which ruins the path she was one in the previous film struggling with herself. Instead we get a forced motive for revenge to provoke the final events of the film. Will is turned into a hypocrite who wants trust from Elizabeth, but will never put trust in her like it isn’t a two-way street. His macho personality overwhelms his character making him dull to watch at all times as he is so one note when he fights for his father’s freedom. I don’t want to get started about both of them getting married in the final action scene and how ridiculous it is that I still don’t care even when given actually good lines of dialogue from other characters like Barbossa being forced to marry them.
Tia Dalma and Barbossa are there as well for their little arrangement. So Calypso is miraculously brought up in the film and it honestly doesn’t take much guesswork that Tia Dalma is Calypso. They even make it feel like it’s a big moment in the film with its own sound effect, when in fact simple deduction when shown a locket with the same design as the one Davy Jones has would trigger you to already know its her. Otherwise why have her in the film at all! Calypso Dalma is not well used in this film always dancing between anger and sadness when it pleases her character. Her effect on the overall plot is useless except in reviving Barbossa, the best character in the film, as her fury in the end only creates a cool action set piece of two ships fighting in a maelstrom. Barbossa on the other hand brings some of the best acting in the entire film and while that may not mean much, he truly puts others to shame when compared to him. He owns every line he is given making every scene he is in a blast to watch. When you see his rivalry with Jack Sparrow show up when they are forced to work together, there is some really good chemistry and complexity to it like Barbossa both hates and admires Sparrow in moments. If Barbossa wasn’t in this film, the world truly would have felt like it had less in it.
Communication in this film is terribly done, often opting out particular elements of prior films choosing to explain new elements and leave out proper logic and reasoning behind why they happened. The Kraken is dead, killed off screen when in fact it was one of the best elements of the last film. Only brought back as a corpse for one poignant scene which could have still happened if we dedicated some time to actually killing it on screen. Instead we waste an emotional moment for Davy Jones having to kill his pet Kraken, just a plain shame. They say that Governor Swann was asking about the heart, yet we are never given any inkling that he has beside one scene where he overhears something about Davy Jones. The first 40 minutes of the film is dedicated to building up random elements new to this particular film and not in the prior two. We see a grim hanging of a child to signify the Brethren Court is adjourning without knowledge as to what that is! They choose to introduce cool set pieces like Sao Feng’s bathhouse and have just completely nonsensical moments talking about things the audience has no idea about. Where is the proper bridging between this film and the last one? They do too much off screen or explain what happens instead of showing it, just making cool scenes turn into boring diatribes.
The final scenes with the Brethren Court and the maelstrom fight between the Black Pearl and the Flying Dutchman had some good moments to them. Nothing particularly profound, but watchable and fun moments that don’t feel as lifeless as others. I enjoyed the squabbling pirates of the Brethren Court with Jack, Elzabeth and Barbossa trying to convince them of their own agenda. Then we are introduced to Captain Teague (Keith Richards) who has a few good lines as Jack’s father. When it switches back to Elizabeth trying to do something inspiring though, it doesn’t feel earned in this film as much as it was in the last one as most of her scenes are vapid and lifeless. It doesn’t invoke the proper exhilaration as Barbossa does with his speeches. Will is equally as vapid and shows up far too much in the finale for my liking. The finale in the maelstrom is a big mess of scenes shoved together to try to be both a cool fight sequence and emotional at the same time turning into one big cool mess that had some fun moments. The setting was great, the fight choreography was great, but everything around it is just dull or awkward. There we have the marriage scene, Calypso doing nothing, Davy Jones being evil for the sake of being evil killing some guy with his tentacles which was just weird to watch. I don’t get what they were trying to do with this climatic fight sequence. It seemed like they wanted to wrap up almost everything and that made the battle drag on for far too long.
That is what this film feels like as a whole, far too long. Dragging itself out to the point of where not even well done sequences like the Cutler Beckett breakdown feel properly earned! If the film stuck to the plot it had going for it instead of bloating it up with more inconsequential elements then it wouldn’t be a mess and my paragraphs wouldn’t be so bloated discussing all of these details! The film squanders its talent, makes vapid attempts at being cool and interesting coming off as shallow, gives us more awkward Johnny Depp moments like him licking a rock (it wasn’t just the brain!) and to top it all off it doesn’t even give any of its characters time to finish their character arcs well enough in the end making for one big mess of an end to a trilogy. I don’t know what upsets me more, having to watch this film or watching Planes? At World’s End however does have at least good elements in it to keep it afloat even though it doesn’t deserve them in the slightest, especially that fantastic music! Planes enraged me…but I was just deeply saddened by At World’s End for how much potential it squanders.
The more this series went on the more dissatisfied with it I became, culminating with everything that happens in this film in particular. At World’s End is a complete waste of what the other two films were, having a great cast to play with, but not handling its time or plot correctly enough to give them the time of day. Why did all these events need to happen? Everything feels forced especially in the scenes that never needed to happen since they add nothing to the overall film like the Monkey and Parrot firing a firework in the beginning or Will Turner randomly talking to Sao Feng about Cutler Beckett making him an offer. Since when in the film did that ever come up? There are so many nonsensical moments that come out of nowhere that the logic in the film is completely thrown out losing its consistency very early on. I just think that this series deserves better than this and it saddens me that such great characters like James Norrington, Jack Sparrow, Barbossa, Elizabeth Swann and Cutler Beckett can add up to this mess of a film.
And so that finishes the Disney Sprint for now, I suspect I will revisit it again some time this year. Though for now these films were enough to satisfy my Disney craving. This film really enrages me since they could have brought back the series to an alright conclusion yet decided to stuff it with even more elements. Disney has made me tired…just absolutely tired. So I’m going to be tackling my favourites from 2016 up next. What anime I liked, what ones I really didn’t, films as well as just conclude my thoughts. Possibly start up looking at anime for once and return to Video Girl Ai which I still need to do another post on. The sky is the limit! So what did you think of the end of the Pirates trilogy? Did you enjoy Jack’s insane moments? Feel free to post a comment down below and don’t forget to have yourself a great day!