If there’s anything we learned from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, it’s that there’s no modern movie franchise as critic-proof as Johnny Depp’s Rated-Arrgh trilogy. (And also, that I need to register the idea for a nautical-themed workout video called Pilates of the Caribbean. Ha!) Anyhow, with that in mind, I set sail through the entertainment sections of America’s newspapers to see if critics are lubbing the third installment, At World’s End, or if they’re ready for the entire series to walk the plank. (EW’s own Owen Gleiberman gives it a C.) And keeping in mind that everyone’s probably gonna go see this flick no matter what, I decided to extract the most positive sentiment expressed by every critic — no matter how negative his or her review ultimately swayed.
Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times: "The attention to detail is impressive… and the special effects top-notch."
Michael Sragow, Baltimore Sun: "There are four or five authentic laughs in the whole 170-minute extravaganza."
Claudia Puig, USA Today: "Visually, the film has some noteworthy moments. The production design is eye-catching, particularly in the opening scenes set in Singapore. The ‘fish people’ aboard Davy Jones’ ship remain captivating with their hammerhead shark heads and barnacled visages."
Bill Muller, Arizona Republic: "It would be remiss not to mention the great costumes and production design of At World’s End. The movie is always fun to look at, and even after three, the filmmakers manage to capture the feel of the Disneyland ride."
Jim Slotek, Edmonton Sun: "Startling ‘moments’ are still a Pirates trademark and a saving grace…."
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: " The competition is enormous, but with Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, a case could be made for Piratesas the worst film series since Thomas Edison got the wacky idea thatpictures could move." (Hey, at least the dood is effusive!)
Christopher Lloyd, Indianapolis Star:"Curiously, [Keith] Richards plays it straight, without his trademarkslurry, wobbly mannerisms that Depp based his character on. It’s likehiring Pee-wee Herman and he goes all King Lear on you."
Lou Lumenick, New York Post:"It’s not a total shipwreck, but abandon hope all ye seeking acoherent, much less satisfying, narrative. Expect instead a reported$300 million worth of eye candy, delivered with enormous technicalskill…. There were scattered amusing moments that I enjoyed, and the overall film was watchable in a soulless, corporate kind of way."
Rob Salem, Toronto Star: "It’s not all bad."