Skip to main content

Is it really only a year since the last Pirates of the Caribbean film (Dead Man’s Chest) ended so abruptly after three hours that it felt almost per­son­ally insult­ing? Apparently. Now the team are back to try and com­plete the long drawn out story and provide some level of sat­is­fac­tion for those of us who wanted a little more than huge, epis­od­ic, set-pieces that go nowhere.

To the cred­it of writers Elliott and Rosso and dir­ect­or Verbinski, At World’s End does a fair job of wrap­ping up the mean­der­ing story and the final hour is as thrill­ing as any in recent cinema – its just a shame it’s taken eight hours of end­less double-crossing to get there.

At World’s End jumps straight in to the story with no assist­ance for people like me, whose memory of the pre­vi­ous films are untain­ted by plot detail. Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) attempt to steal a map and a ship from Singapore’s mean­est pir­ate Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat) so they can sail to Davy Jones’ Locker to res­cue the recently deceased Jack Sparrow (the bet­ter than ever Johnny Depp). They need (rather than want) to do this so that Sparrow can stab the heart of Davy Jones’ (bril­liantly be-tentacled Bill Nighy), which is in a box, and pre­vent mean cap­it­al­ist Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) from mak­ing the high seas safe for inter­na­tion­al trade by des­troy­ing all pir­ates forever. Or some­thing like that.

Most of the pleas­ures in this film are, as usu­al, in the gags but it is very pleas­ing to report that there is good char­ac­ter work being done by all the leads, par­tic­u­larly Knightley (the world’s 2nd most beau­ti­ful West Ham fan) who seems to truly embrace movie star­dom here for the first time and really dom­in­ate a scene or two. The long-awaited Keith Richards cameo is also a treat and per­fectly handled.

Moving on to a film so dif­fer­ent that it hardly seems like we are talk­ing about the same art form, Aurora Borealis is a small-scale, domest­ic drama set in freez­ing Minneapolis. Dawson’s Creek’s Joshua Jackson stars as lost boy Duncan Shorter, a tal­en­ted guy un-tethered since the death of his fath­er ten years before. Drifting from McJob to McJob he’s fail­ing to get any kind of handle on life until his grand­par­ents get him a job as a handy­man in their apart­ment build­ing so he’ll be close by.

Watching his grand­fath­er (Donald Sutherland) deteri­or­ate phys­ic­ally and men­tally (and the intro­duc­tion to his life of the pro­ver­bi­al “good woman”, a nurse played win­ningly by Juliette Lewis) forces Duncan to con­front the fam­ily bag­gage that he’s denied for so long and, maybe, get on with his life. It’s not a par­tic­u­larly ori­gin­al theme, but the snowy mid-western look, the stud­ied per­form­ances and the well-drawn rela­tion­ships make it a film worth recom­mend­ing. Like the under-rated Snow Cake, it’s nice to see a film about good people rather than some of the nas­ti­ness and vicious­ness we are con­fron­ted with so often.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 30 May, 2007.