Gents, you all remember Captain Jack Sparrow, don't you? Yes, of course you do. Well, in case you hadn't heard, he's back, and he's bringing along the entire cast of the last two Pirates films, Curse of the Black Pearl and Dead Man's Chest. If you haven't seen those two movies, stop reading right now and go check them out. At World's End is part three of a trilogy, and not only will this review make no sense if you try to start with it, but will also feature spoilers for the previous entries in the series.
For those of you who have been watching, you may recall that Dead Man's Chest ended with both Jack (Johnny Depp) and The Black Pearl being taken to Davy Jones' Locker by way of The Kraken. You may also recall Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) lamenting Jack's fate in the bayou abode of witch-doctor Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris), who shocked them all by revealing that Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), the villain from Curse of the Black Pearl, had been brought back from the dead. Now, they're all searching for Jack beyond the edge of the world. The fate of all pirates hangs in the balance, as they need Jack to call a pirate conclave in an attempt to ward off the combined forces of Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander) and Davy Jones (Bill Nighy). If they fail, they are doomed. Even if they succeed, their chances of survival are still slim.
At World's End is the culmination of three films' worth of storylines, and as such can feel dense at times. But if you pay attention, the through lines are all there. In fact, this movie feels like it's much more of a piece with Curse of the Black Pearl than with Dead Man's Chest. The inclusion of Barbossa makes a huge difference, and there is a real sense of closure. Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio are smart writers, and they've done a great job of making the three films fit together into a single, extended piece.
The cast do what they do best. Depp is still captivating as Sparrow, now more kooky than ever. And many will be happy to know that there's less Will and more Jack this go around. Keira Knightley steps things up another notch from her already improved performance in Dead Man's Chest. Geoffrey Rush plays Barbossa to perfection, and Naomie Harris adds layers to Tia Dalma. Bill Nighy is still show-stopping as Davy Jones, and he even gets a moment of real face time, much to my delight.
Director Gore Verbinski, meanwhile, has much more fun this time out, upping the humor and the action. He even has some fun with the filmmaking, throwing in homages to Sergio Leone and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. The action takes a serious step up. The climactic battle sequences are most likely the best action you'll see in any movie this summer. Of course, being the second half of a longer story, the pacing isn't as pitch perfect as in Curse of the Black Pearl, but it makes up for it with a truly epic scope that make the first two look puny in comparison. However, the film never loses sight of the important characters, and doesn't try to cast too wide of a net.
At World's End brings the Pirates series full circle. If they never make another one, then this is a fitting ending. The series being what it is, it leaves itself open for a sequel, but it's not the cliffhanger ending we got last time, that's for sure. I had a blast watching Pirates of the Carribean - At World's End, and if you're a fan of the previous two films, you will too. Highly Recommended.
Daniel Hirshleifer is the High Definition Editor for DVD Talk.