For this reviewer’s pieces-of-eight, while it is perhaps pointless to nitpick at one of the greatest trilogies in summer blockbuster history, director Gore Verbinski’s second stab, Dead Man’s Chest (2006), is now officially the Pirates of the Carribean franchise’s finest hour. When a sequel was this good (remember the treats we had? An incredible sword-fight on a loose rotating water wheel, Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) doing the nasty on poor old Captain Jack Sparrow (he wishes), Bill Nighy as ‘ol Squid Face Davy Jones and his pet Kraken, and, of course, the surprise comeback of Captain Barbossa, the magisterial Geoffrey Rush), it was always going to be very difficult to top.
So, straight off the bat, the final episode doesn’t. But, rest easy, me hearties…there’s more than enough fun and foam in Part The Third to compensate for the dry spots.
For the shamefully uninitiated, a quick recap – the magic of incredibly sexy sorceress Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) has brought Barbossa back from beyond (‘So. What’s become of my ship? Aaaaaarrggh!!!’), but it’s going to take a more concerted effort on the parts of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), the guilt-ridden Elizabeth Swann (she knows why) and Sparrow’s misfit crew to rescue the good cap’n from Davy Jones’ locker (where he was taken by the Kraken at the end of Part II).
Meanwhile, there’s hidden agendas and mortal betrayals aplenty in the offing – Will wants nothing more than to see his father ‘Bootstrap Bill’ Turner released from his eternal servitude on Jones’s The Flying Dutchman, while the machiavellian Lord Cutler Beckett (a really quite chilling Tom Hollander) wants nothing less than every single pirate removed from the seas and, with Davy Jones’s heart in his possession, he may have the necessary ammunition. Time for all good pirates to make their stand…
Whereas the first and second parts threw in mighty dollops of action throughout, to complement Depp’s seemingly endless (and endlessly charming) whimsy, World’s End, perhaps predictably, saves all its big guns for the final battle which, true to form, is an absolute belter.
However, some of the original barefaced bravado seems to have dissipated – a great deal of the near three-hours running time is taken up with explicatory verbal badinage and wringing of hands which, when the practitioners are as skilled as Rush, Nighy, Depp and his ‘Dad’ Captain Teague (yes, it’s official – like father, like son, take a bow Keith Richards) is no hardship, but it may prove testing on younger attention spans.
The same section of the audience might also be a little perturbed at how it all turns out – without giving anything away, Verbinski and his screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio have not opted for the happiest of endings.
But this is piracy, not a picnic. Stump up your dabloons and bid your farewells to an epic series that has helped put fun back into film.