Pirates of the Caribbean At Worlds End

Since the days of Robert Louis Stevenson and Raphael Sabatini, pirates have been seen more as symbols of rebellion than as criminals. There is some reason for this. Caribbean pirates, at least, were a very egalitarian bunch. They elected their captains and everyone took an equal share of the loot. We even have copies of elaborate contracts spelling out amounts for specific injuries–so much for an eye, or a leg, and so forth. Contrast this with the harsh life of a British seaman, who was subject to press gangs and the lash, and it makes sense that so many went pirate.

Not that the pirate life was easy. The trade did attract more than its share of bloodthirsty lunatics who were dangerous to be around. No mercy was expected or given if you were caught by the Royal Navy. And there was much deprivation, since food and a berth were not guaranteed. In all it must have been pretty miserable.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End continues in the Robin Hoods of the sea tradition as it concludes (for now) the adventure/comic series started in Curse of the Black Pearl. Old friends Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly) and Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) battle the evil East India Company for control of the seas. The plot, such as it is, is a mishmash of betrayals, coincidences and improbable alliances. It’s hard to follow at times and that’s being charitable. All that would be OK if we were treated to the same witty dialog and inventive gags that made the first picture such a pleasure. But we’re not. The comedy is hit and miss and the tone is definitely darker. The only plus is the art direction which continues to be inventively macabre.

It’s a pity really; we could use a rousing tale about fighting oppression right about now.

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