Keeping an Eye on Jack Sparrow
"Playing this character and being this character and delivering this character will always bring a smile to my face," Johnny Depp declared on his last day of shooting Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. Depp certainly should smile, for his Captain Jack Sparrow has become one of filmdom’s most memorable rogues.
Remember how we left Sparrow at the end of Dead Man’s Chest? Yikes! That monstrous Kraken had him in its clutches -- er tentacles. In the early part of At World's End, we find Sparrow trapped in Davy Jones’ extremely surrealistic prison. But fear not, mateys. Help can't be far way. Sparrow is desperately needed to assist pirates from throughout the world in their struggle against the East India Company and its plans to destroy piracy on the high seas once and for all. Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), and even Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) hope to gather together the Nine Lords of the Pirate Brethren in order to defeat this power-hungry trading company, which now controls the Flying Dutchman as well as its nefarious captain, Davy Jones (Bill Nighy). After securing charts and a ship from Chinese pirate Sao Feng (Chow Yun Fat), the rescue team liberates Sparrow, and the war to make the world safe again for pirates begins.
Why do we want these outrageous scalawags to win? After all, they are an unscrupulous bunch who can’t even trust each other. Executive producer Mike Stenson offers a good explanation. “When you’re growing up, you want to be a pirate,” he says. “You want to do something that’s about freedom, no rules, not dealing with authority.” Stenson points out that as we go through our lives, we have to deal daily with authority and conformity, so it’s a treat to spend a couple of hours experiencing and cheering for “the darker, swashbuckling, more independent version” of ourselves.
And cheer we do! Granted, it’s easy to hope the snooty, villainous Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) of the East India Company will finally get his comeuppance, even if it takes a bunch of no-so-perfect pirates to trim his sails -- especially when Capt. Jack Sparrow is aboard. Fortunately, our unkempt gold-toothed hero gets more screen time here than in Dead Man’s Chest, making At World’s End an even tastier treat for avid Depp fans like me.
Along for this wild ride are the usual Pirates gang -- plus some new characters who add to the swashbuckling fun. It’s almost too much in one movie, but who’s complaining? I’m willing to suffer through a film’s numerous plotlines and out-of-control action as long as I can watch Johnny Depp weave his Jack Sparrow magic.
Before this convoluted film completes its almost three-hour running time, incredible special effects and astonishing set pieces fill the screen. Happily, frequent irreverent humor counterbalances the action mania, and the look of the movie dazzles the eye. But it’s Captain Jack Sparrow who steals the show once again -- and I hope not for the last time.
(Released by Walt Disney Pictures and rated “PG-13” for intense sequences of action/adventure violence and some frightening images.)