But even these magnificent spectacles are dulled by having to compete with dozens of other overdressed battles, scuffles and general mischief. Add to this a plot so ludicrously complicated that you’re never quite sure why any of the characters are doing what they’re doing, and you have a recipe for sensory overload.
It’s as though Pirates of the Caribbean has finally come full circle. What started as an amusement park ride and became a movie has now become an amusement park ride masquerading as a movie. Except most rides don’t last just shy of three hours.
The length might be more bearable if you could simply switch off and have a nap, but At World’s End holds your attention with merciless determination. Each scene is so beautifully put together, from costumes and effects to framing and editing, that you feel almost guilty for not paying enough attention. And then there’s the brutally effective score by über-composer Hans Zimmer to yank your leash whenever you’re flagging.
Still, there’s always Johnny Depp. He made the first film, rescued the second and is barely propping this one up. And even he, the king of nonchalant charm, is starting to seem a little weary of all the fuss.
He’s got some fine actors backing him up – Geoffrey Rush is particularly good – but too many of them spend their time chewing the scenery (Bloom and Knightley are the worst). As in the first two films, it’s the supporting act (and Depp) that are the most fun to watch.
But, for all its ugly commercialism and bloat, the film’s only really unforgivable sin is the ending. After taking us, literally, through hell and back, do we get a satisfying conclusion? Oh no. Mr Bruckheimer and his corporate masters must have their fourth movie. After all, what use is a golden goose if you can’t squeeze it to death?
- Alistair Fairweather
Are blockbusters meant to be hard work? No? Then why is the third Pirates of the Caribbean film so exhausting?
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