Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: Movie Review
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Do you fear death? That’s the question that the satanic figure Davy Jones poses to his intended victims throughout At World's End, the third movie in Walt Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. And, the answer the movie gives is that death is not the worst thing that can happen to you. In fact, the movie suggests that being a slave to the devil, a slave to sin, a man without honor who will betray his friends or serve evil forces, and being condemned to Hell are all worse than physical death.
Like the second movie, At World's End is determined to give audiences their money’s worth. And it does, especially in the gigantic action set-piece at the movie’s end, which ties all the loose ends together in a Christian allegory of sacrifice, redemption and setting the captives free.
The movie’s opening finds Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann allied with Captain Barbossa in a quest to free Captain Jack Sparrow from the limbo underworld of Davy Jones’ locker. They confront the cunning Chinese pirate Sao Feng, who has the map that will lead them through icy waters to Jack.
Meanwhile, the evil Lord Beckett has taken over the East India Trading Company. After having retrieved the heart of Davy Jones in the second movie, Lord Beckett now controls Davy Jones and his ship the Flying Dutchman. Using the Flying Dutchman, Beckett hangs every man, woman, and child who refuses to submit to his absolute control over the high seas.
After perilously retrieving Jack from Davy Jones’ locker, each character must ultimately choose a side in a final, titanic battle with Lord Beckett’s armada, led by Davy Jones and his ship and crew. Will is torn between saving his father or saving his love, Elizabeth. Jack is torn between honor and saving his own skin. And, Elizabeth no longer knows who she can trust.
At World's End comes perilously close to becoming a cinematic experience rather than an actual movie with a story. The biggest problem, however, is that some of the dialogue is lost in the sound mixing and muffled accents. The exhilarating climactic resolution of the third act makes up for all that as the filmmakers bring their visually impressive fantasy spectacle to a proper, satisfying close.
Although the movie’s Christian metaphors are clear, the movie also deals with piracy and some pagan allusions to a “heathen god.” The movie also says that the Flying Dutchman was originally intended to ferry people to the afterlife, but that Davy Jones has corrupted his supernatural office by enslaving men.
On the other hand, the movie’s heathen god is clearly a force for chaos, not worship. And, there is a Day of Judgment quality about the Flying Dutchman that plays into the movie’s symbolic Christian resolution. Finally, while there are pirates here, both the pirates and the good guys, i.e., Elizabeth, Will and Will’s father, are seen as a metaphor for the common man who works and fights for freedom in this life by “the sweat of his brow” and the strength of his hands. Thus, the filmmakers deftly handle the negative items by subjecting them to the movie’s more positive qualities.
The movie’s positive qualities could have been helped, however, by more direct allusions to God, Jesus Cross and/or Christianity. Because of that lack, Movieguide® advises strong caution for At World's End, even though, in the end, Walt Disney, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Gore Verbinski have given moviegoers a very entertaining thrill ride with some characters you can feel good about rooting for as well as have fun with, and some uplifting themes that may lead some people to the redemptive power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Only Jesus can save you from both death and damnation.
NOTE from Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide Magazine. For more information from a Christian perspective, order the latest Movieguide Magazine by calling 1-800-899-6684(MOVI) or visit our website at www.movieguide.org. Movieguide is dedicated to redeeming the values of Hollywood by informing parents about today's movies and entertainment and by showing media executives and artists that family-friendly and even Christian-friendly movies do best at the box office year in and year out. Movieguide now offers an online subscription to its magazine version, at www.movieguide.org. The magazine, which comes out 25 times a year, contains many informative articles and reviews that help parents train their children to be media-wise consumers.
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