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Long-awaited end of ‘Pirates’ franchise may be here

The long wait for the end of the “Pirates of the Carribbean” franchise is here - maybe.

Director Gore Verbinski and his hard-working cast and crew left viewers running for the seasick pills in “Dead Man’s Chest” after watching a grueling whirlwind that was more likely to leave viewers feeling tipsy than entertained.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” wastes no time in setting up its intrigue. To a haunting score, a group of pirates are marched onto a platform where they’re to be hung. Among them is a small boy, about 10. He begins to sing a song and turn his piece of the nine coins over in his hand. Then the movie shifts to Singapore. Want to know what that sequence is all about? So do I. I’ve heard it’s part of a 20-minute segment that was cut from the already two-hour-and- 48-minute film.

In Singapore, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) are chasing and being chased by Chinese Pirate Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat), who is guarding the entry to World’s End. Will and Elizabeth hope to find a map from Feng that will show them the way to World’s End so they can rescue Jack from Davy Jones’ locker.

Joining in the fight is Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who was once dead and an enemy to Will and Elizabeth. Pirates have fickle friends, I suppose. Barbossa has been revived from the undead by Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris), a voodoo witch who maintains she can help rescue Jack, too. Soon, Jack’s crew and friends are sea-bound on their rickety old ghost ship and sailing off to find Jack.

However, someone else is looking to rekindle their acquaintance with the slippery Captain. It’s none other than Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) of the East India Trading Company. Beckett has made an alliance with Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), who must bargain with Beckett because he’s the one who currently possesses the chest holding Davy Jones’ heart. And if it should fall in the wrong hands, he’d be destroyed.

That’s the basics of this trilogy, but nine hours watching it have failed to reveal any real plot. Which is okay if you’re just into a lot of amazing special effects and long hours of action, battles and stunts. It’s particularly hard to get involved, though, if you don’t know anything about the characters. The little we do know - Will and Elizabeth want to get married, Will wants to save his undead father, Bootstrap Bill Turner (Stellan Skarsgard) - can’t make us care.

Fortunately, the aspect of “Dead Man’s Chest” I disliked the most - those awful ghouls so frightening to small children - is missing from this film. But there’s more inclusion of extras constantly milling about, sword fighting and stabbing each other, and there’s no telling who is who, what they’re doing or why.

So, after three movies, I and many others I’ve asked still have little idea about the plot. So what’s left? More humor than in the last “Pirates,” and certainly more Depp.

Thankfully, there are more fun moments in this third film. How about that monkey? He certainly earns his star on The Walk of Fame. Johnny Depp is more multi-dimensional than his one-note character in “Dead Man’s Chest,” but as most viewers commented upon leaving the theater, this movie belongs to Geoffrey Rush. It’s nice to sea the down-to-business, don’t-get-in-my-way scalawag back in action.

Even if the script suffers once again in this third film, Gore Verbinski certainly gets credit for an amazing task of completing a trilogy with such a huge cast. I liked the look of “At World’s End” best of all three films. The colors seem lighter, and there are some beautiful scenes in sunrises, sunsets and starlit nights. The computer-generated imagery of the ships tossing and turning is immensely pleasurable as well.

I wouldn’t advise taking kids under 12 to see this sequel because of the violence and the film’s length. While critics seem to rake these movies over the coals, the bottom line is box-office sales - so no matter whatever problems I have with the movie, I’m sure it will be a big success.