As Lord Beckett and his men continue to knock off anyone suspected of piracy, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) fight to free Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) from the purgatory of Davy Jones' Locker, where Sparrow has developed a split personality. The group also needs to confront a Chinese pirate (Chow Yun-Fat), take down Jones (the tentacled head of Bill Nighy), save Turner's father (Stellan Skarsgard) and unite all the pirate leaders in their cause. Whatever that is.
Big question: The franchise's previous installment, "Dead Man's Chest," was overlong and confusing. Can the longer, more densely plotted "At World's End" recapture the fun of "Curse of the Black Pearl"?
Skip it: You won't fully grasp what's going on or give two doubloons about the endless betrayals or squabbles over who gets to be captain. By now Depp's swaggering shtick also seems pretty low on gas. Left to do most of the movie's heavy lifting, Knightley and Bloom are still so flavorless that they make Rice Cakes seem like a feast for the senses.
Catch it: If you subscribe to the President's let's-keep-fighting-until-things-get-better Iraq strategy. As Will says, "No cause is lost if there is but one fool left to fight for it"!
Bottom line: "At World's End" is less grueling than "Dead Man's Chest" but no more entertaining, aside from a cool scene of the ship flipping over. Instead of supplying big action sequences, clever dialogue or a strong villain, the screenwriters--again sailing without a map--fall back on lots of pointless conversation and more monkey reaction shots than a National Geographic special.
Bonus: Yes, Rolling Stones' guitarist Keith Richards finally makes his cameo as a legendary pirate. If only he didn't disappear after two minutes!
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
'Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End'
Directed by Gore Verbinski; screenplay by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio; photographed by Dariusz Wolski; edited by Craig Wood, Stephen Rivkin; music by Hans Zimmer; production design by Rick Heinrichs; produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. A Walt Disney Pictures release; opens Friday. Running time: 2:47. MPAA rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of action/adventure violence and some frightening images).
Capt. Jack Sparrow - Johnny Depp
Capt. Barbossa - Geoffrey Rush
Will Turner - Orlando Bloom
Elizabeth Swann - Keira Knightley
Davy Jones - Bill Nighy
Capt. Sao Feng - Chow Yun-Fat
Cutler Beckett - Tom Hollander
Norrington - Jack Davenport
Bootstrap Bill - Stellan SkarsgardCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times