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My hat is way cuter than yours: (l-r) Knightley and Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.

Yo-Ho Hum, Again

By Ann Morrow

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Directed by Gore Verbinski

For the third and hopefully, er, supposedly, final chapter in the misadventures of Capt. Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, director Gore Verbinski apparently ran out of inspiration and went with the tried-and-tired sequel gambit of more is more. It isn’t. Lumbering and curiously devoid of excitement, At World’s End is an expensive- looking exercise in wretched excess—two hours and 47 minutes’ worth. Unlike the first Pirates, which had Johnny Depp’s depravedly fey pirate to swishbuckle us through the silly parts, and the first sequel, Dead Man’s Chest, which had interludes of comedic balderdash, At World’s End is a seemingly endless parade of barely integrated high dudgeon and bloated effects sequences peppered with bizarrely arresting visuals (the most impressive being a typhoon that sucks down two galleons).

After an interminable intrigue in Singapore, Capt. Jack is found losing his mind on Davy Jones Locker, a whitewashed desert island over the edge of the world. It’s indicative of the film’s inspiration level that the sea monster that was his undoing turns up later as rotting flotsam. In a hallucinatory state that annoyingly persists throughout the movie, Jack sees, and converses with, multiple mirage images of himself. It’s as if Verbinski was so bored with the project that he decided to dabble in art-house cinematography. Watch for the direct rip-off of an eerie scene from Lord of the Rings; it’s the best thing in World’s End.

Depp seems stymied by Jack’s lack of dramatic trajectory—he’s mostly a pawn playing second fiddle to Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Capt. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and his fey flourishes come off as a tired imitation of his earlier bravura. But the most boring character is Elizabeth. Transformed from a young lady of adventurous leisure to a sword-wielding damsel in command, Elizabeth is now a stock character from Knightley’s limited repertoire, indistinguishable (except by her sumptuous costumes) from other aggressive Knightley heroines (King Arthur, Domino, Pride & Prejudice). At one point, Elizabeth is abducted, and bizarrely wooed, by the pirate king of Singapore (Chow Yun-Fat). It’s a single moment of sizzle among the enervated relationships she has with Jack, with her new ally, Barbossa (undead but relatively lively), and her beleaguered sweetheart, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), who has become as tiresomely duplicitous as everyone else. After Jack is rescued, the plot consists of one betrayal after another, padded out with random bits of pirate lore, high-seas mythology, and international marketing (pirates and their crews from around the world are given face time for no other reason, it seems, than to increase the film’s global-market accessibility).

Keith Richards’ anticipated appearance as Jack’s father is too little too late, and his older, craggier, and over-baked version of Jack has about as much impact as a lead sinker dropped into a mud puddle.

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