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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Year: 2007
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Gore Verbinski
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Writer: Ted Elliott/Terry Rossio/Stuart Beattie
Cast: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, Bill Nighy, Chow Yun Fat, Stellan Skarsgård, Naomie Harris, Jonathan Pryce, Mackenzie Crook, Keith Richards

When you've seen every character from the previous two movies come and go on the screen without being entirely sure what's going on and finally see Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) and Davey Jones (Nighy, under heavy CGI make-up) standing on the mast of a sailing ship having a sword fight while it wheels around a gigantic whirlpool in the middle of the ocean during a rain-lased storm, you'll kind of feel like you've missed something.

Like I found with the Saw and Harry Potter films, I saw these three films too far apart (or perhaps just wasn't interested enough in them) to keep up. Watching the second and third instalment I was struck with the feeling I should have watched the preceding film just half an hour before so I knew who everyone was and what they all had to do with each other.

However, emboldened with the gargantuan success of the first two and with a presumably much fatter studio purse to play with, writers Elliott and Rossio and director Verbinski have given the fantastical free reign. Where the first film had fantasy elements, this is an out and out fantasy story that happens to features pirate trappings, complete with mysterious netherworlds, armies of grotesque creatures, and the sort of pixel swarm that forms the climatic battle.

We meet the crew of the Black Pearl as they sail off the edge of the world in search of Captain Jack after the Kraken ate him at the end of the last film. They find him in a slightly Kubrickian version of the afterlife from which they have to collect him, re-entering the fray to head off the East Indian Company-style establishment from taking control of the seven seas.

From a curiously corporate-like meeting of the heads of piracy complete with a charter and mission statement to various computer-generated encounters, it's a bit like Spider Man 3 - great to look at but not making much sense. What's actually most interesting about it however is the idea of cultural ideas eating themselves. When Johhnny Depp admitted he based his performance on that of a drunk Keith Richards after the first film, the movigeoing public loved the idea so much it caught on and the plot spoiler that Richards himself was going to play Sparrow senior part of the buzz.

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