Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: 21 Jump Street Crosses Exile on Main St.

And so Disney's immense, booty-busting, pro-piracy epic has come to an End. I doubt very much that Pirates 3 is, in fact, the last we'll be seeing of Captain Jack Sparrow and, you know, all those other people. The picture may or may not hint at adventures to come. Not that I could follow those hints even if I tried: Long before the third, fourth, or fifth climax in this endless, obligatory summer diversion, I slunk into my seat in a passive, inattentive stupor, fully submitting to the fact that I hadn't the slightest idea what the hell was going on.

The film is a lukewarm maelstrom of secret agendas, double crossings, tricky alliances, back stabbings, familial complications, romantic entanglements, political conspiracies, warring factions, hidden gods, cheeky monkeys, and excessive eyeliner—some of which is linked to events from the previous installments. The story, such as it is, begins with the rescue of Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) from the Locker of Davy Jones (Bill Nighy). Boring Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), plucky Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), and blustery Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) are on hand to help. New to the franchise is Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat), who's been wedged into the Pirates panoply in order to exude colorful slant-eyed menace, enable the destiny of a white woman (i.e., Swann versus the snooty imperialists of the Dutch East India Company), then die.

But, seriously, who cares? Pirates 3 isn't a movie so much as a delivery system for two kinds of special effect: those created by computers, and those generated by Johnny Depp. And the former peaked with the attack of the Kraken in Pirates 2. When Depp freaked his funk in Pirates 1, it seemed a sneak attack—the deployment of frisky, flamboyant, softly subversive shenanigans across the grain of corporate entertainment. Part 2 put him in the spotlight, and he withered. Part 3 is even more aggressive in flaunting and defanging his spectacle. Give 'em what they want has never been so literal, to such diminishing returns.

 
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