Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)

Rated: PG-13
Grade: BC-CB=B-
Budget: $300 million
Box Office: $309 million US, $651million int’l, $145 million DVD

Directed by: Gore Verbinski, whose primary success in movies has been the Pirates franchise, since otherwise is legacy would have been The Weather Man, The Ring, The Mexican, and Mousehunt.
Starring: Johnny Depp, Johnny Depp, Johnny Depp (You’ll understand if you’ve seen it), Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Jack Davenport, Bill Nighy, Jonathan Pryce, Chow Yun Fat, Mackenzie Crook, Lee Arenberg, Naomi Harris, Tom Hollander, Stellan Skarsgaard, and a cameo by, wait for it, Keith Richards.

Will Turner wants to rescue his dad from Davey Jones. Davey Jones can’t be killed unless you pierce his heart, which is buried in a treasure chest. The evil trading company wants to eliminate the pirates and control the seas for their evil corporate corpratenesses. Keira Knightly doesn’t know what she wants. And Jack Sparrow wants to live again and captain a ship. It’s a lot easier to tell you what everyone wants rather than to try to describe the convoluted plot. There’s lots of pirates and lots of complexity.

Entertainment Value: B
Um. Well. You know how they say that in order to get dressed in the morning, you should put all your accessories on and then take off one or two? Yeah, that’s not the guiding principle in this film. The principle here is, put in everything you can think of and then double that plus two or three. Despite the plot making even less sense than in the previous movies and despite the metaphysics of whatever we’ve just watched making no sense, it’s still fun to watch. I mean, come on. Who doesn’t love pirate movies? Especially when they feature the never-disappointing Jack Sparrow?

Superficial Content: C-
Drugs/Alcohol B, Sexuality B, Violence D, Language B+, Illegality B
Kissing and pirate wench cleavage. That’s all the sex. There’s plenty of alcohol. The language is quite clean. But of course the real issue here is going to be the violence, with eyes popping out, people being killed with swords and cannons, and the same sort of creepy imagery of the undead as we’ve seen in the previous two movies. One other note, the movie opens with a gallows scene where people are not quite shown being hanged several at a time, including one young boy.

Significant Content: C
Love and loyalty are the big themes, but they honestly get buried deeper than pirate treasure (I couldn’t help myself, love). The other theme is the evil of corporations (yawn) and the importance of knowing yourself. Truth is pretty much optional, and the world is full of witchcraft and supernatural phenomenon.

Artistic/Thought Value: B
It’s downright lavish. I can’t say much for the thought value because, sadly, most of the really interesting themes aren’t explored, such as the love affair involving Davey Jones. I did feel like I was watching Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome for the first few minutes, but then Tina Turner turned out (get it) to be Chow Yun Fat and all was well again.

Discussion Questions:
~Does it make any sense that the pirates would have a law code book?
~What do you think of Jack’s final choice?
~In what ways are various characters here honorable or dishonorable?
~How does this movie change your opinion of Davey Jones?
~Why are pirates so fascinating? Are real-life pirates so entertaining? What is it about being a pirate that seems so exotic?
~What do you think of Jack's brother's advice to him that the hardest thing to live with is yourself?
Overall Grade: B- If a movie could simulate a twenty-years-later version of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World on a 300 million dollar budget, this is it. That was chaotic and unpredictable when I was a kid, and likewise this movie is now.

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