Would you book passage on a doomed ship if you knew Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, and Orlando Bloom would be along for the ride?
Millions of moviegoers will say "yes" and climb aboard for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, the conclusion of Disney's pirate trilogy. Some will even go in hats, dreadlocks, and heavy eyeliner, cheering for their favorite scallywags. And they'll reward director Gore Verbinski and company with enough treasure to fund another whole franchise.
But that may be fool's gold they're spending. Not even a dozen Captain Jack Sparrows can save this overstuffed ship from sinking. If less really is more, Verbinski must have missed the memo. (In last summer's Dead Man's Chest, he proved that excess can be a good thing; it's hard to have too much fun with slapstick sequences as inspired as those. But here, it's just chaotic action, a lot of shooting and swordplay without character development to give it gravity.)
If you choose to join this rowdy cruise, plan to purchase a couple of meals' worth of popcorn and soda. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End packs more characters, more action, more surprises, and more metaphysical nonsense into 168 minutes—yes, that's right, almost three hours—than most adventure trilogies contain in their whole series. (I know, I recently said the same thing about Spider-Man 3. But trust me: At World's End makes that movie look as simple as a Saturday morning cartoon.) And you'll have to sit through twelve minutes of closing credits to see the movie's predictable epilogue. But most moviegoers will have already walked the plank, emerging seasick, full of strange tales, and drunk on plot-twists, double-crosses, and baffling revelations.
Wait—I take back what ...1