Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Time Out says
Let the phenomenon of the summer blockbuster keel over and die with this one: bloated, witless and, for most of its running time, maddeningly incomprehensible. When Disney first turned its theme-park ride into a movie (2003’s The Curse of the Black Pearl), Johnny Depp pulled off a stupendous act of subversion, dancing around the film’s elephantine action beats with his sly, androgynous saunter.
Now, almost in penance, At World’s End completes the blandification initiated by last summer’s Dead Man’s Chest, turning Jack Sparrow into both a boring nonhero and a desexualized outsider who hardly gets to crack wise. Here, he must be saved from the abstract purgatory of Davy Jones’s locker; the spectacle of a deracinated Depp pulling a massive ship across the desert by rope is only too apt.
What’s left? Only the usual blustery diversions—computerized nautical explosions, slo-mo shards of flying wood, a dull-as-dirt romance between two mannequins (Bloom and Knightley) and an excess of unnecessary revenge-based plotting—deployed with a dutiful sense of obligation. Mind-bogglingly, there’s virtually no swordplay for the first two hours; when Keith Richards shows up for his soused cameo, the visual joke hangs in the air. Didn’t he once cowrite a song about satisfaction, i.e., not getting any? (Now playing; Click here for venues.) — Joshua Rothkopf