Avast, ye mateys! Thar be the film spectacular "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" off the port bow!
With the help of the dubious undead pirate Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) search for their comrade Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) who is a captive of the infamous Davy Jones' locker.
However, the lengthy expedition leads way to more than rescuing the brain-addled Jack; because of the unique position that he is in, Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) is forced to succumb to the pressure that the East India Trading Company is placing on him to help get rid of all of piratekind.
Jack and company must convene their pirate brethren, headed by the nine pirate lords, two of which are Jack and Barbossa. In order to keep the pirate community alive, all the crews of the world must unite against the armada that the trading company has set up against them.
It seems to be a three-way race between Depp, Rush and Nighy to see who can give the most outlandish and hammed-up performance. Depp wins, of course, but he has to put his all into it to outdo Rush's scurvy rendition of buccaneer Barbossa and Nighy's surprisingly sympathetic portrayal of Jones (whose octopus face, lobster pincers, and crab leg peg leg make for a character that not even a mother could love).
Bloom takes his time getting into the fray, but his action hero instincts eventually kick into high gear. Knightley gives a much stronger performance this time around, managing to be both glamorous and dangerous with a saber.
Much of the rest of the cast play their roles no different than how they did in the previous films (Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook are still effective comic relief as Pintel and Ragetti, two of the biggest swabs aboard the Black Pearl), but Chow Yun-Fat brings some new life to the story as Sao Feng, the pirate lord of Singapore. Keith Richards' highly touted cameo as Jack's father does not hurt either.
Although the movie's story is far from surprising, it still is highly entertaining.
So many franchises fall apart by the third film, but "Pirates" does not come close. Whether it is Jack's newly developed schizophrenia or Barbossa's constant jockeying to take over the crew of the Black Pearl, the movie never loses its engaging edge. "At World's End" is significantly darker than the first two films, and contains so many double crosses among its characters it is easy to forget that the real villain is the treacherous Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander), who is willing to wipe out piracy by any means necessary.
Like the Tammy Faye makeup that Depp dons to play Jack, "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" will stick with you for quite a while.
'Shrek the Third:' Lout gets royal treatment
Endearing ogre Shrek (voice of Mike Myers) and his companion Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) are adjusting to the obligations of the royalty in the fractured fairy tale kingdom of Far, Far Away.
After a few disastrous instances in which Shrek attempts to fill in for Fiona's ailing father King Harold (John Cleese), he decides that he just cannot cope with this new lifestyle.
Unfortunately, the king's last request is that Shrek take his place permanently. The only other option is for Shrek to find the long lost heir to the throne: Fiona's cousin, Arthur (Justin Timberlake).
So in order to get back to his old life, Shrek embarks on the quest with bickering sidekicks Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas). At the same time, Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), disgruntled from being made a fool by Shrek, gathers forces among fairy tale villains to take over Far, Far Away.
Myers's distinct brogue brings the perfect personality to Shrek once again, but there are plenty of other talented voices in the cast. Diaz makes she-ogre Fiona sound both gentle and tough.
Murphy is great as chatterbox Donkey, and Banderas is fantastic as the feisty feline Puss in Boots. Timberlake fits the bill as Arthur (or Artie, as he prefers to be called), a high school outcast whom nobody expects to be a great leader. Also in the all-star cast are Julie Andrews, Eric Idle, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and a number of others.
The newest installment of the "Shrek" storyline stands up well against its predecessors.
The original movie was such a surprise hit that the inevitable sequel became the highest grossing animated movie ever made. Fortunately, the high quality that was ever-present in the first two films does not waver in "Shrek the Third," which easily shows up the disastrous "Happily N'Ever After" (released earlier in the year with a somewhat similar story).
Besides being hilarious for all ages (especially the comedy stylings of Donkey and Puss), the characters are very relatable; Shrek is terrified at the prospect of fatherhood (relayed in a nightmare with an ogre baby that vomits more green slime than Linda Blair), Artie is a typical teenager tortured by his schoolmates and unsure of himself, and Fiona must take it upon herself to turn a bevy of prissy princesses into rebel warriors once Prince Charming's forces take over the kingdom.
The best feature of the movie is that the filmmakers acknowledge that the audience of the original movie is now 6 years older, and can appreciate these new developments.
Another positive aspect is that it does not seem likely that the "Shrek" team will taint the series by creating an unnecessary fourth movie, so that will leave audiences and critics alike happily ever after.