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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

The plot: If you haven't seen the first two films, there's very little point seeing At World's End.

Screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio presume audiences are savvy with the characters and their fates, chugging full steam ahead with the quest to rescue Jack from Davy Jones's locker.

Falling foul of a pact forged with multi-tentacled Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), Jack finds himself consigned to Purgatory.

Thankfully, lovebirds Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) have joined forces with Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) to rescue Jack from walking the plank to eternal damnation.

They head to Singapore to meet Chinese pirate Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat) in the hope of creating an alliance against the despicable East India Trading Company, which now controls Davy and his vessel, The Flying Dutchman.

The meeting with Sao Feng ends in bloodshed and Will, Elizabeth, Barbossa and their shipmates barely escape with their lives.

They head to the edge of the world in search of Jack, where Barbossa helpfully informs his crew, "It's not getting to The Land Of The Dead that's the problem ( it's getting back!"

Meanwhile, Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander), who commands the troops of the East India Trading Company, waits for the perfect moment to destroy the pirates.

Overblown action sequences are as thrilling as expected, including ships blown to smithereens. Jack's hare-brained scheme to escape The Land Of The Dead shivers the timbers, as does Keith Richards's delicious appearance as Sparrow Snr, strumming a guitar and dispensing cryptic advice to his wastrel son.

Knightley is thrust to the fore, usurping both Bloom and Depp.

She flings herself into the melee with some impressive sword fights and delivers the less than rousing speeches. Miraculously, everyone listens.

Bloom postures and pouts with equal fervour while Depp press gangs the few decent one-liners, such as when Jack recoils at the thought of taking Davy Jones's place at the helm of the Flying Dutchman.

"I don't have the face for tentacles," he laments in that cod-English accent.

The verdict: Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End is not a complete shipwreck, but it sails perilously close.

Rumbustious action set pieces, augmented with spectacular computer generated effects, bookend this third instalment of the series, and cute comic interludes buoy the downbeat mood.

However, Johnny Depp looks bored with his character. Hollander and Nighy are colourful villains for the little screen time afforded them. Supporting performances are drowned out by Han Zimmer's bombastic orchestral score.

In truth, Gore Verbinski's film can weather an armada of critical drubbing: Dead Man's Chest was only the third film in history to gross more than $1bn globally.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 25, 2007
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