Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End ★★★½

"There's never a guarantee of comin' back. But passin' on, that's dead certain."

Utter madness. Thunderous, unrestrained, outlandish madness.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is the wildest chapter of Verbinski's trilogy, quite possibly the most irrational too, and I can't help but treasure each minute of its chaotic orchestration. It's so persistently bonkers and uncompromising that it's genuinely admirable, even if some of the comedic beats and narrative resolutions fall a tad flat. Still, the film remains tremendously enjoyably, if far from perfect, boasting some of the most satisfying moments of the entire series while bidding what should've stayed a final farewell to these swashbucklers.

The song's been sung, the stage is set. Our band of existential pirates are in a race against extinction as the East India Trading Company's oppressive rule threatens all in its way. The Pirate Lords of these fantastical seas must gather for the Brethren Court if they're to stand a chance in this war. They'll use every plot device at their disposal to win, regardless of rhyme or reason. And it will be glorious.

As expected, but maybe more so than any other entry, the production value of At World's End is spectacular. You can practically see every dime of the budget in the locations, sets, wardrobe, and various other design elements. You can see even more of those dimes with the visual effects, almost of all of which still look first-rate even by current industry standards. The set pieces are abundant and grand, the filmmaking reflecting the awe-inspiring scale of the story while cinematographer Dariusz Wolski paints his brilliant frames and Hans Zimmer's score goes all in with a sense of Morricone flair. Even the irregular screenplay maintains a consistent sense of momentum from the opening gallows-set call to arms through the climactic maelstrom duel some two and a half hours later. The journey is one helluva ride.

A common sentiment shared among both sides of the aisle I'm sure, At World's End should've been the final Pirates of the Caribbean installment. While the audience is left smirking at the adventure alluded to by the final set of reversals, the tone of the film's conclusion as the last picture of the series is unequivocally definite. But Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer would release On Stranger Tides from director Rob Marshall four years later to great financial success but a less than desirable critical response. Dead Men Tell No Tales would hit screens six years after that, receiving overwhelmingly negative reviews and a disappointing box office run given its budget and the success of the prior titles. Have they learned their lesson?

Forgo a sixth film, refrain from any reboot plans, and let the franchise rest with what honor it has left.

"Think you can outrun the world? You know the problem with being the last of anything, by and by, there be none left at all."

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