While Dead Man's Chest was a damp squib enlivened by a giant squid, the third entry in the Pirates series clunks like a rusty anchor. Captain Jack (Johnny Depp) and the rest of the Black Pearl's crew may return, but director Gore Verbinski cares more about tying up every loose end before the bum-numbing, 169 minute running time expires. Talky, action-lite and saved only by Depp's increasingly cavalier performance, it's less At World's End than When Will It End?
"Do you think he plans it all out or just makes it up as he goes along?" wonders a gob-smacked marine as Cap'n Jack pulls off another convoluted double cross. It's a question you could ask of writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio: they're clearly sailing by the seats of their pants (shooting started before the script was finished) and the results are messy. In brief, the plot follows Will Turner (Orlando Bland, sorry Bloom) and his fiancée (Keira Knightley) as they release Jack from Davy Jones' Locker and try to convince the other eight Pirate Lords to unite against scheming Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander).
"A JOYLESS BORE"
No cannibals, no kraken, no water wheel: World's End is duller than a Disneyland ride during a power cut. It spends half its time trying to sort out who wants what and why, the other half ferrying people hither and thither across the seven seas trying to find it. It's a joyless bore and while Depp's on undeniably good form (the deliciously delirious Davy Jones Locker sequence is a treat) he can't stop the script from sinking under the weight of its own bilge. It'll take a pirate's bounty at the box office, but anyone who thinks it's in the same league as the original should walk the plank...
Pirates Of The Caribbean 3: At World's End is released in UK cinemas on Thursday 24th May 2007.