Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: 2-Disc Limited Edition – DVD Review


Available at Amazon.com

Directed by:
Gore Verbinski

Starring:
Johnny Depp … Captain Jack Sparrow
Geoffrey Rush … Captain Barbossa
Orlando Bloom … Will Turner
Keira Knightley … Elizabeth Swann
Jack Davenport … Admiral James Norrington
Bill Nighy … Davy Jones
Mackenzie Crook … Ragetti
Lee Arenberg … Pintel
Kevin McNally … Gibbs
Stellan Skarsgard … ‘Bootstrap’ Bill Turner
Tom Hollander … Lord Cutler Beckett
Naomie Harris … Tia Dalma

The Movie

The Country Bears, The Haunted Mansion and The Pirates of the Caribbean. Three movies that were greenlit at the same time to be based on Disney theme park attractions. Let me repeat that, movies based on a couple of amusement park rides. How this could have spawned one of the highest grossing franchises in movie making history still astounds me to this very day. But what’s even more surprising was just how entertaining The Curse of the Black Pearl was back in 2003. Which only makes me wonder what happened over the course of the past four years to make this series so uninteresting.

The Pirates franchise suffers by making the same wrong creative decisions that the Matrix franchise did, by over-exploring and over-explaining everything brought up in the first movie. Where instead of continuing with creating new, fresh and exciting ideas, they basically recycle many of the lines and jokes from The Curse of the Black Pearl, with only a fresh coat of paint. Which was acceptable in Dead Man’s Chest, serving mainly as a way of reintroducing us to these characters as they start their next journey. Here, however, it’s three times too many, using those jokes as a crutch for lazy writing.

We last left our cast of miscreants defeated by the monstrous Kraken, with Jack Sparrow finding himself double crossed and sent to Davey Jones’ Locker. Now Cutler Beckett and the East India Trading Company, who have full control over Jones and the Flying Dutchman at this point, have widened their control of the seas; ordering all pirates and any known associates of pirates to the gallows. After being resurrected from the grave, Captain Barbosa must now lead Will, Elizabeth, and the crew of the Black Pearl to the ends of the world and rescue Jack. Who’s presence is needed at the Brethren Court in order for all of the Pirate Lords to stand their ground against Beckett by freeing Calypso from her human bonds, in hope that she’ll limit their control of the open seas.

At World’s End still contains a lot of the story that the creative team seems to expect us, the audience, to understand without actually telling us. Which is both maddening and frustrating all at once, because it’s not like they don’t have time to spare in this overwrought, nearly three hour long visual effects spectacle. Not to mention the hours of time available in the last chapter of the franchise. Which was essentially a 200 million dollar prologue for this one, meant to set everything into motion. Stuff like that keep the movie from properly moving forward and building up steam to the final confrontation between the pirates and the evil East India Trading Company.

It’s disappointing when you realize that the only parts of the movie that go off without a hitch are those that are shamelessly ripped from the very first Pirates film. Leaving you mostly wishing that this one would simply stop rehashing what has already been done and try to create something new. It’s so derivative of previous sequels from other franchises that on a whole, the movie feels like it’s just spinning its wheels in hopes that the endless number of subplots will all magically come together during the closing moments.

Admittedly, the film makes a lot more sense with each repeat viewing. Sure there are still scenes that simply don’t work, and it tends to suffer from Return of the King-itis, but it’s undoubtedly less aggravating. But that doesn’t make up for the fact that there is a complete lack of cohesion to both the story and the characters motives. What made Dead Man’s Chest so much fun at the time of its release was that it played out like a wonderful form of escapism during the hot summer season, only to later be see it for what it was: a two and a half hour advertisement. Here, all of the fun is gone. Choosing instead to go with a very dreary and dark tone. In the end, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is merely a hodgepodge of barely coincidental conclusions covered up by really nice production values.


The DVD

Quality:
The DVDs anamorphic 2.35:1 presentation is a very uneven one. Where, at times, the image will appear very sharp but have poor contrast, or have spot on contrast with very soft picture quality. One would have to assume that this is due in large part to the films nearly three hour running time, because many films have had similar technical issues due to length. It’s just strange how it tends to be on a scene-by-scene basis in this case.

Where the film doesn’t have any issues is the audio department. The included Dobly Digital 5.1 Surround continues the Pirates legacy of being some of the most impressive audio mixes available on DVD. That especially goes for the films climactic Maelstrom scene, which has some of the best audio panning I’ve ever experienced while watching a movie.

Extras:

Bloopers of the Caribbean (5:23) – Depp seems to dominate the extra with quite a few genuinely funny moments. As far as blooper reels go, this may be one of the more entertaining ones around.

Keith & The Captain: On Set With Johnny and The Rock Legend (4:41) – Covers Rolling Stones guitarist and one of the main inspirations for Depp’s character, Keith Richards, during his brief time on set for his cameo in the picture. Keith has fun playing guitar on set (playing a nice rendition of “Spanish Ladies”) And he also comments on what it’s like on a movie set for a production this massive. What’s really fascinating is just how coherent he is during the whole thing.

Anatomy of a Scene: The Maelstrom (19:31) – With a shooting stage the likes of which I haven’t seen since Spielberg shot Close Encounters, this covers what was quite possibly the largest indoor scenes ever put to film. We’re told how they constructed the largest gimbals made for a film production, with each ship built to full scale; weighing the equivalent of a 747. After that they go in to the visual effects, the rain element of the shooting, and the sword fight choreography. However, they never once show the trouble of shooting all of these elements and putting them together.

The Tale of Many Jacks (4:49) – Takes a look at the difficult task of having Johnny Depp playing himself ten times over in a single scene. They show us him shooting the material for each Jack and talk about the ease of putting all the the footage together. It’s an interesting look at what ultimately culminated into the strangest ten minutes that I’ve seen in a movie all year.

Deleted Scenes (2:24) – There are only two deleted scenes included on the DVD and combined run for a measly two minutes and twenty-four seconds. Neither add anything to the overall story and as explained by Director Verbinski, who provides commentary for the two, they were cut out for good reason.

The World of Chow Yun-Fat (4:14) – Here we’re treated once again to a featurette dedicated to a newcomer of the franchise, Chow Yun-Fat as Captain Sao Feng. It contains the types of things we’ve come to expect from these, he talks about his experience with the cast, the stunts, and his character. The funny thing they forget to mention is that when released in China, all of his scenes were edited out by the Chinese Government.

The Pirate Maestro: The Music of Hans Zimmer (10:31) – If there’s one extra that interests me more than a commentary track, it’s anything focusing on the musical aspect of a film. And I’m not let disappointed here, as Han Zimmer talks freely about what it was like writing new pieces for the third Pirates film. Although one thing mentioned here felt wrong, and that was him talking about having his music done first and then allowing the editors to work around the material. That is a horrible idea; it’s a movie, not a music video.

Masters of Design (25:53) – This section of the disc has five short featurettes thats a look at all of the prop, make-up, and costume designers on the project. We get to see the evolution of such things as Sao Feng’s map, the Singapore set, the many incarnations of the cursed crew of the Flying Dutchman, Captain Teague’s (Keith Richards) costume, and the Pirate Code Book. All very interesting peek at all of the little things that help make up the film.

Hoist the Colours (4:41) – We get one more featurette that takes us into the creative process of composer Hans Zimmer, which focuses on the films main theme. He talks about how technology like iChat allowed him and Gore Verbinski to work on the music while they were busy on other projects (Batman Begins, in Zimmer’s case). He then goes on about all of the unique instruments used for the song.

Inside the Brethren Court (:55) – Gives a very brief explanation on the Brethren Court. Which then leads us to an interaction section that gives us background information to the other Pirate Lords and their Pieces of Eight. Why the movie couldn’t have provided this instead of the numerous monologues by Kira Knightly remains to be seen.

Also available inside the DVD is an insert that, while providing a look at where everything is located on the DVDs, has a brief “Pirates Secrets Revealed” section. This basically serves as a way for them to explain some of the many plot holes found in the film. An interesting one is “What does the future hold for Will and Elizabeth?” which is answered with “True love never dies, but their story is yet to be told.” Wasn’t the entire purpose of this trilogy to tell their story?

The Inside Pulse:

The movie, while unquestionably flawed and disappointing, does give some closure to a franchise that started out with a bang. Then again, it’s hard to not recommend a film where a monkey pulls a gun on a parrot. As a two disc set, the included material is surprisingly sparse, clocking in at under ninety minutes total. With the trouble this production had due to weather conditions, unfinished scripts, along with barely making the deadline for release, one would expect a lot more here. At the very least a director’s commentary. If you plan on picking this up, you’d be better off with the single disc release.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Pirates of the Caribbean:
At World’s End: 2-Disc Limited Edition
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

5.5
THE VIDEO

6.5
THE AUDIO

9
THE EXTRAS

5.5
REPLAY VALUE

5.5
OVERALL
6
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

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