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Movie Review: “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 5/25/2007

Theatrical Release: 5/25/2007

Synopsis

Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) has been imprisoned in Davy Jones' Locker. Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) has finally managed to collect his debt from Jack Sparrow, and the cost was Jack Sparrows death, and an eternity in the purgatory known as Davy Jones' Locker. However, Jack Sparrow still has allies in the land of the living. Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris), and even Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), have set out on a mission to rescue Jack Sparrow from Davy Jones' Locker.

In the land of the living, Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) has acquired Davy Jones' heart. As a result, he and the British Navy now command the cursed captain and his cursed crew. With Davy Jones, his crew, and the Flying Dutchman all at the disposal of Cutler Beckett, pirates around the world are beginning to fear the seas. Thus, the nine Pirate Lords—of which Jack Sparrow is one—decide to hold a secret meeting, where they will decide whether or not to band together and take on the British Navy and the Flying Dutchman in a desperate, united fight for their freedom.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Jack Sparrow (+8pts)

Elizabeth Swann (-4pts)

Davy Jones & The Heart (+6pts)

Calypso (-3pts)

The Action & The Climax (+8pts)

Complicated (-4pts)

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Pro: Jack Sparrow (+8pts)

Once again, Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow was one of the better things about this movie. His time in Davy Jones’ Locker was funny, but it also furthered the character’s story, as we got to see the psychological state that it put him in. We also got to see how, after getting out, Jack Sparrow became desperate to cheat death, and never go back to Davy Jones‘ Locker. As silly as his Davy Jones’ Locker scenes were, he was changed by the experience, and he feared going back.

Then there was the complexity that was this character's motivations. As I just said, his primary motivations were finding a way to cheat death and avoid going back to the Locker. On the surface, his actions and motivations were very much selfish, getting himself closer to his goal without worrying about who he betrayed. However, deep down, Jack Sparrow was willing to risk everything for those he cared about, even if that was something that frustrated him. I liked seeing this character grow, I enjoyed his complicated motivations, and I enjoyed seeing Johnny Depp crush this role once again.

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Con: Elizabeth Swann (-4pts)

Elizabeth Swann has never been my favorite character, but I really did not like her story here. In the beginning of the story, she was made out to be this badass pirate, but I never bought her in that role, because we never saw her do anything remarkable. Then there was what the filmmakers did with her later in the story, when they gave her a title that I thought was wildly undeserved. It did not make her seem more important. Instead, it diminished the significance of the title, and it made others who had it feel less significant and powerful than I originally thought they were. I did not think the filmmakers handled Elizabeth Swann properly in the last two movies, but I thought the filmmakers really dropped the ball with her in this one.

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Pro: Davy Jones & The Heart (+6pts)

I still enjoyed the concept of Davy Jones in this franchise. He was powerful, and felt menacing. Unfortunately, I thought some of what made this antagonist so great was lost in this movie, as he sort of became Cutler Beckett's attack dog, but the character still made for an intimidating presence. I could feel the rage boiling beneath the surface when he was forced to obey Cutler Beckett's commands, and while Davy Jones did not get to do a whole lot in this movie, his presence was very much felt.

Then there was his heart, which was really what everyone was after. Cutler Beckett had it, which gave him dominance over Davy Jones. Jack Sparrow wanted it to avoid going back to the Locker, Will Turner wanted it to save Bootstrap Bill Turner (Stellan Skarsgard), but really everyone needed it in order to stop Davy Jones and stand a fighting chance at defeating the British Navy. I have seen plenty of movies where there was one important object or artifact that all of the characters were after, but I thought the filmmakers of this movie did a great job of making the heart feel important. A lot of this was through having seen Davy Jones wreak havoc in the previous movie, but giving so many characters their own reasons for needing the heart made it feel much more important than just a generic quest item.

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Con: Calypso (-3pts)

I do not want to say too much about this character to avoid spoilers, but I thought Calypso's role in this movie was unnecessary, and after all the screen time it got, it did not really lead anywhere. There was this big, climactic moment in which Calypso arrived, but after all the build up regarding the character and her potential arrival, she ended up contributing nothing to the story's climax. On top of that, with as much fantasy that has been in the last movies, her reveal seemed ridiculous and unbelievable to me, even for the standards of this franchise. She ended up contributed nothing to the climax, and we got a lot of screen time talking about her arrival and worrying about what she would do. It all made the character feel like one big waste of time. A minor rewrite could have removed the idea of Calypso from this story all together, and it would have let the filmmakers achieve a shorter runtime, or it would have let them give more screentime to more important characters.

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Pro: The Action & The Climax (+8pts)

This movie was long, and while it certainly felt long, the action kept it exciting. Thus, while it felt like it went on longer than it needed to, I was never bored. There was always some moderate amount of action to keep me engaged, but then the climax of the movie came and the action was taken up a notch. We saw Davy Jones and the Flying Dutchman going up against Jack Sparrow, Barbossa and the Black Pearl.

We also saw pirates swinging around from the masts of their respective ships and fighting each other in the air, and we saw pirates aboard both ships fighting for their lives. We also saw canon fire, a maelstrom, British soldiers versus pirates in Singapore, and so much more. This movie had plenty of action to keep audiences engaged despite the movies issues, and it had an exciting climax to top it all off in a satisfying way.

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Con: Complicated (-4pts)

Much like in the last movie, I thought the filmmakers over complicated the plot of this one. Again, like the last movie, none of it was hard to follow on its own, but all together it made for an unnecessarily cluttered plot. The number of characters running around with different motivations made it hard to really get invested in any one storyline. I am not saying that the filmmakers should have simplified the plot for dummies like me, but letting one or two of the storylines come to the forefront—and taking some focus away from the others—would have helped give this movie a more coherent, more easily digestible plot.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B+ (86pts)

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End was a strong second-part to the story that began with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Cutler Beckett had Davy Jones' heart in this movie, which meant that he commanded the cursed captain and his cursed crew. This was bad news for pirates everywhere, so the pirate leaders had to gather to decide whether or not to take a united stand against Davy Jones and the British Navy. This story worked so well, because it was once again centered around the great quest item known as Davy Jones heart. Everyone had different reasons for wanting it, and it made for an interesting climax, as there were a number of different possibilities regarding who would end up with the heart and what they would do with it.

Johnny Depp was back again as Jack Sparrow, and he delivered the entertaining performance that audiences have come to expect from this actor in this role. The filmmakers then took Jack's story a step further, as it was clear his time in Davy Jones' Locker had a lasting effect on him, and I enjoyed seeing what this did to the character. Unfortunately, not everything about this movie was praise worthy. I thought the filmmakers handled Elizabeth Swann and Calypso poorly, and I thought they made the plot more complicated than it needed to be. Nonetheless, Jack Sparrow, Davy Jones, Davy Jones' heart, and the exciting pirate action were enough to make this another fun and exciting installment for this franchise.