Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End ★★★★★

"I felt it important that the third film was the end of an era — like in a postmodern western where the railroad comes and the gunfighter is extinct. It seemed that we had an opportunity to take a look at a world where the legitimate has become corrupt and there is no place for honest thieves in that society, so you have darker issues and a little melancholy. The myths are dying. That seemed a great theme with which to complete the trilogy."
—Gore Verbinski

Part III of the trilogy rewatch

Over the years I've gone back and forth on whether or not I like this or Curse of the Black Pearl more. Even though I've seen all three of these hundreds of times watching all of the movies together in one binge, and seeing how all the little arcs and plot points or even small weird details pay off over the course of the trilogy, and especially this film, made me remember why I loved and gravitated to these so much out of all the blockbusters out there. It is certainly a bizarre choice to end a trilogy based on a theme park ride in such an epic and bittersweet way but damned if it isn't affecting. Comedy or not, I had fallen in love with these characters and was invested in their journey, as were Verbinski and the writers.

Structurally the film recalls Return of the Jedi and dare I say improves on it (sorry RotJ, I still love you). Verbinski certainly takes the film in a darker and more serious direction but he never forgets to have fun, his penchant for slapstick still remaining. After the initial Singapore action setpiece (a pretty fun one that also introduces Sao Feng) we're led into the delightfully surreal Davy Jones' Locker segment, one of the more fun parts of the movie concluding in one of the highlights the Up is Down scene (also, between that track and One Day I think this might be Zimmer's best score).

Once back in the world of the living the regularly scheduled backstabbing continues. Every character has their own agenda often conflicting with the others, even the villains are in constant conflict with each other, Jones only serving Beckett out of necessity. At the end these differing personalities come together in one final battle where only one choice remains, freedom or the rule of the East India Company. Elizabeth's arc ends beautifully with her crowning as king and her rallying speech at the beginning of one of the craziest ship battles put to cinema (including a wedding between the star-crossed lovers placed gloriously in the middle). It ends in a victory of course, but not one without a price to be paid. It's a happy ending, but not an idyllic one.

There will truly never be anything like this trilogy again because of how odd the circumstances around their creation are. Hell, even the sequels really couldn't replicate the magic these had (and probably never will). These are a weird bunch of blockbusters and goddamn if that isn't exactly why I love them.

A pirate's life for me indeed.

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