Shiny Shelf


Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

By Mark Clapham on 13 June 2007

Let’s get one thing straight – you really shouldn’t go and see this film if you’re under any kind of time pressure, or are feeling any degree of impatience. If you have other things to do, then a near-three-hour incredibly self-indulgent movie about pirates is likely to expend whatever patience you have, especially when it starts with an incredibly slow first hour.

Providing you have the time and inclination to not get too annoyed with it, ‘At World’s End’ is an entirely satisfactory wrap up to the plotlines set up in the previous film, while nodding back to ‘Curse of the Black Pearl’ just enough to give a nod to the idea that these three films somehow form a coherent ‘trilogy’. It has some spectacular action, some very funny bits, and even the odd bit of actual characterisation, albeit usually from the secondary characters rather than the leads. It ends the story of all the major characters satisfactorily in a way that ‘Dead Man’s Chest’ with its downbeat cliffhanger ending, didn’t even attempt to do, while leaving options open for further sequels should Disney go completely mad and throw another few hundred mill at Gore Verbinski and co.

Thankfully, ‘At World’s End’ also avoids some of the traps that recent second sequels have suffered from. While it has the odd jarringly bleak moment for a lightweight action movie, it doesn’t take itself too seriously or use the fact that it’s the last chapter in a trilogy to belabour its own significance, or indulge in too much hugging and crying. While the film itself is long, individual scenes do their job then end.

While initial box office and reviews for ‘At World’s End’ are a notable step down from ‘Dead Men’s Chest’, it’s hard to blame this on the film itself, which is a faithful and entertaining conclusion to the story its predecessor began. Instead, the problem seems to be more with the concept of back-to-back sequels – ending a very long, self-indulgent sequel on a cliffhanger left a bitter taste with many viewers, who have gone into ‘At World’s End’ resenting having to cough up for another ticket to get the end of a story they’d already paid for.

While the economics and scheduling logic of shooting two mega-budget sequels back-to-back is sound, the drop-off in interest shown both in the case of ‘Pirates’ as well as the two ‘Matrix’ sequels suggests that better responses might be had by offering a more solid ending for the middle film, and leaving a bit more time before you hit audiences with the finale. There is a limit to audience’s patience, and double-dipping in their wallets in just over a year wears that patience very thin.

If you’re not already annoyed by this series, you’ll probably enjoy ‘At World’s End’. Otherwise, wait for the DVD or for it to turn up on TV – if nothing else, enjoyable swashbucklers like these are likely to be shown on Bank Holidays for decades to come.


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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named markclapham.com.




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