Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

None of the Pirates of the Caribbean films is perfect. They suffer from awkward plotting, occasional bloatedness, a dollop of misogyny and racism, and, of course, an excess (that is to say, any at all) of Johnny Depp.

But they're a hell of a lot of fun, and it's so frustrating that Hollywood took the wrong lesson from their success. These films are not popular because of Depp. They are popular in spite of him. Even before I knew he was a violent abuser, Depp's character annoyed the shit out of me. The least believable thing in these films isn't ghost pirates or octopus captains or bound sea-goddesses. It's that any of these characters would give two shits for a man like Jack Sparrow, the most obnoxious and self-absorbed character ever to grace the silver screen.

Yet Hollywood looked at these films and thought: Depp. Depp is what the people want. Not adventure on the high seas, not swashbuckling, not hilariously elaborate action set-pieces (the swordfight on the wheel in the second film remains one of my favorite action scenes in any film), not even more Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. No, let's give the people more Depp.

Even if you remove Depp from the equation, a lot about these films doesn't exactly work. Introducing the Pirate Council or whatever in the third film was a mistake, to say nothing of why on Earth Sparrow would be a member. Likewise, introducing the idea of Calypso a film earlier might have helped. There's no reason the battle at the end of the third film should only be between 2 ships; the second film in particular feels bloated (and what the fuck is this forced sexual tension between Elizabeth and Sparrow?), and the sweet-ass idea of Elizabeth being the Pirate Queen is apparently abandoned due to her needing to go mope and pine and be a mom.

But for all that, and even accounting for Depp, they're incredibly fun and engaging films which manage to still hold up all these years later. If you haven't revisited them in a while (especially 2 and 3, which I know are not held in as high regard as 1), I encourage you to do so! You'll probably enjoy yourself.