- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 26, 2007

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group dedicated to improving the entertainment lives of families, provides reviews of the latest movies from a parenting perspective. For more reviews, click on commonsensemedia.org.

‘Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End’

Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action/adventure violence and some frightening images.

Common Sense Media: Pause. For ages 12 and older.

*** (out of five stars)

Running time: 168 minutes

Common Sense review: There’s no denying that the billion-dollar “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise is wildly entertaining. But even though “At World’s End” — the series’ third and ostensibly final adventure — is more action-packed than the first two sagas, it’s still overlong and bewildering.

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is back, living in the hallucinatory limbo of Davy Jones’ locker. While he’s busy seeing imaginary clones of himself, Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and resurrected Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) travel to Singapore. Their goal is to enlist pirate lord Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat) to help save Jack and join his fellow captains against the British, who are in control of Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and his Flying Dutchman crew.

That’s just the beginning. The movie has so many story developments and double-crossing betrayals that even hard-core fans of whodunit mysteries may be puzzled.

Basically, everyone’s out for revenge. Will must free his father, Bootstrap Bill (Stellan Skarsgard), from Davy’s cursed ship; Elizabeth, having assuaged her guilt for cuffing Jack to the Black Pearl, now finds herself an avenging pirate captain. And Barbossa leads a council of the eight pirate lords who have gathered from around the globe, while the mysterious Tia Dalma (a still horribly accented Naomie Harris) wants to unleash her alter ego as a trapped sea goddess in love with Davy. Got it? Didn’t think so.

Never fear, matey: This is a Jerry Bruckheimer action flick, so everything turns up roses (mostly). Some major characters die, disintegrate, or what have you, and other are revived.

Common Sense note: Parents need to know that this installment of the “Pirates” franchise is packed with more death, action and violence than most superhero flicks. Since it’s nearly three hours long, younger children (or those with short attention spans) may not go the distance.

And with so many double-crosses and betrayals, the plot may be confusing even for adults. Families can talk about what made children want to see this movie — the story or all the product and toy tie-ins. Do children want something because Captain Jack is connected to it? Why is Jack such an appealing character? Does the movie live up to all the hype? Families also can discuss the “Pirates” franchise as a whole.

Sexual content: Elizabeth and Will kiss passionately. Pirates’ mistresses are scantily dressed and a couple is discreetly shown dressing after marital sex, but there’s no nudity. Captain Jack loves making sexual innuendos.

Language alert: Colorful pirate insults.

Violence alert: Characters are hanged — including a young boy — and their dead bodies are shown in a pile. Lots of pirates, British soldiers and unlucky seamen are stabbed and blown up.

Commercialism alert: Nothing in the movie itself, but the entire thing is a giant marketing machine for Disney.

Social-behavior alert: Elizabeth and Tia Dalma are strong, fearless female characters, and the cast of this movie is much more diverse than the previous two. Despite several betrayals, Jack and Will sacrifice what they want most and act selflessly for the greater good. Jack often acts as though he has no morals or ethics, but he’s true to a strange code of his own.

Drug/alcohol/tobacco alert: Pirate rum flows freely.

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