Bootylicious

Its the end of the world as they know it, and the pirates feel fine

Knightley's occasional woodenness aside, this is one strong ensemble cast. Nighy reveals new aspects of Davy Jones that add depth to the monster, though credit must also go to the crew who animate his octo-puss. Depp, who seemed like he was going through the motions in part two, seems to have found his spontaneity again. Rush embraces every pirate cliché you can think of ("What ARRRR ye doin'?"), while Chow is, well, Chow, though unfortunately Sao Feng isn't as significant a character as the movie's marketing might have led you to believe. Bloom is never going to be the standout in this ensemble, but he does get a bit more to do here, as Will gets more devious than you would have thought. Harris' witch doctor similarly shows unexpected depth, and we get the best work yet from Lee Arenberg and MacKenzie Crook as Pintel and Ragetti . . . a little of their shtick goes a long way, and it's rationed out just right. Ditto Jack the monkey, who steals a few scenes of his own (didn't Peter Gabriel do a song about him once?).

But, uh, why are they all searching for "nine pieces of eight"? Shouldn't they be called pieces of nine, if there are in fact that many of them? Just asking.

At the heart of At World's End is the idea that magic and mystery are quickly being replaced in the world by predictability and commerce, a notion that might sound odd coming from a Bruckheimer/Disney production with about a zillion different merchandising tie-ins. Jack Sparrow comments that even though he may die, he has come back from the dead before, to which Barbossa replies that isn't something to be counted on. Indeed not. The pirate movie was a dead genre, and after Dead Man's Chest, even this rare hit version seemed like it was dying from a lack of ideas. Equally unlikely is a third act in a cinematic trilogy that proves to be the best of the three, but behold! The odds have been beaten, the pirates have cheated death yet again, and they have done so by resurrecting a welcome dose of magic unto a kingdom that was in danger of losing it all to soulless commerce.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END WAS DIRECTED BY GORE VERBINSKI; WRITTEN BY TED ELLIOTT AND TERRY ROSSIO, BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY ELLIOTT AND ROSSIO AND STUART BEATTIE AND JAY WOLPERT, BASED ON WALT DISNEY'S PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN RIDE. COUNTYWIDE.

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