U.S. Release Date: May 25, 2007
Distributor: Buena Vista
Director: Gore Verbinski
Writer: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Composer: Hans Zimmer
Cast: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Chow Yun-Fat, Geoffrey Rush, Jack Davenport, Bill Nighy, Jonathan Pryce, Stellan Skarsgard, Tom Hollander, Naomie Harris
Running Time: 2 hours and 48 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (intense sequences of action/adventure violence and some frightening images)

Sequel Offers More Absurdity, Less Horror
by Scott Holleran

Nine multicultural lords of a Brethren Court unite with dozens of new and old characters, including governor's daughter Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), her lover, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and caricatured Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), against evil Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander) among others in Disney's latest piece of horror adventurism, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. This one's better than the last movie.

Bad Brit Beckett has managed to commandeer the Flying Dutchman, complete with monster Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and his half-dead crew, and throw the pirate world into a tailspin. After crossing swords with Chow Yun-Fat (whispering the whole time) in Singapore, with subplots about Will and Elizabeth (will they or won't they bond in matrimony?), Will's father Bootstrap Bill (Stellan Skarsgard) and Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and the rest of the gang—voodoo lady (Naomie Harris) among them—all compasses point to a massive sea battle. What's at stake would give the overplotted secrets away.

Besides, the plot's practically there to propel the unhinged action and there's no shortage of that—flying cannonballs, monkeys and midgets—though fans should expect long, absurdist dry spells of bizarre humor. Jack Sparrow plants his tongue here and there and an overdone rock star cameo plays to no effect. Thankfully, the horror is less pronounced.

Some jokes work, some do not and each character is granted some form of resolution, which is worth noting in a movie this long and this populated with pirates. The story takes surprising turns and features a few final bows, though contradictions can exist in this supernatural realm, so anything goes. As Jack Sparrow replies when someone insists he's mad: "If I wasn't, this would probably never work."

On its own terms, it does, as a strange, tightly wound, nightmare intruding upon an otherwise fearless adventure. Exotic locations—world unity—wild characters in bone-crushing action, temporarily involved in emotional outbursts, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End piles it on, coming through relatively clear given that this is a picture with a peanut as a plot device.

The cast delivers, driving the high-flying action and gamely gritting their teeth through nonstop dialog that needs subtitles to be heard over Hans Zimmer's spiraling score. At the end of two hours and forty-eight minutes, director Gore Verbinski has successfully made another loud, manic moving picture of Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio's exhaustive script. When the series protagonist deadpans, "it's not over," following the frantically spent energy, it truly isn't; there's more, much more, and that is exactly what fans, this reviewer not among them, have come to expect.

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