J.D. Lafrance
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End: 2-Disc Limited Edition DVD Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End: 2-Disc Limited Edition

December 18, 2007

Director: Gore Verbinski,
Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Chow Yun-Fat, Geoffrey Rush, Stellan Skarsgård, Bill Nighy, Jack Davenport, Kevin R. McNally, Jonathan Pryce, Mackenzie Crook, Naomie Harris, Lee Arenberg,

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DVD Review

J.D. Lafrance

Even though Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) was a massive box office success, there was the general consensus that it was a let down in comparison to The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). There was just too much plot, most of it hopelessly and unnecessarily convoluted. Would the third installment, At World’s End (2007), be a return to form and a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy? The filmmakers certainly stacked the deck, cast-wise, with everyone from the first two films returning and new additions Chow Yun-Fat and, finally, a cameo by Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards as Captain Jack Sparrow’s father, Captain Teague.

When we last left things, Jack Sparrow (Depp) had been banished to Davy Jones’ Locker thanks in part to Elizabeth Swann (Knightley), who in turn, reveals her romantic feelings for the mischievous pirate, much to the chagrin of Will Turner (Bloom) who has feelings for her. The British government is swiftly and ruthlessly executing anyone identified as a pirate: men, women and even children, marking the end of an era. This forces all of the pirates to temporarily put aside their differences and band together.

As a result, we see a surprise return of Captain Barbossa (Rush) from the first film. He teams up with Swann and Turner as they go to the far ends of the earth to find and rescue Captain Jack. To achieve this goal, they enlist the services of Captain Sao Feng, the Pirate Lord of Singapore (Yun-Fat). Turner also wants to free his father, Bootstrap Bill (Skarsgard) from Davy Jones’ (Nighy) ship, the Dutchman.

In these films, the only person that can steal a scene from Johnny Depp is, well, Johnny Depp and so we are introduced to Jack running a ship of clones of himself. Only thing is that the ship is located in a desert and he is actually alone. Jack hallucinates all sorts of odd visions and Depp basically has a blast acting against himself. When he finally hooks up with Barbossa and Co., Depp has even more fun playing off of Geoffrey Rush.

Once again the film is bailed out by Depp’s entertaining performance and several stunningly staged action set pieces (including a scene where our heroes finally escape Davy Jones’ Locker) with some of the best CGI a multi-million dollar budget can buy. However, the filmmakers pile on too many unnecessary sub-plots as every one of the main characters has their own complex storyline and everyone ends up betraying each other at least once – they are pirates after all, but it all seems like needless padding out of the film to stretch the running time to almost three hours. It’s the same problem that plagued the last three Star Wars films – overburdened by their own narrative fat. Still, the filmmakers have managed to end the Pirates movies on a high note… at least, until the inevitable next film.

Special Features:

On the first disc, there is “Bloopers of the Caribbean,” a very funny montage of blown lines as we get to see Depp et al. goof it up on the set.

The second contains the rest of the extras, starting with “Keith and the Captain: On the Set with Johnny and the Rock Legend.” Depp has famously said that he based much of his performance on Rolling Stones guitarist, Keith Richards. Ever since then, the filmmakers have been trying to get him to appear in the films as Jack’s dad. They finally got him for this one and this featurette is a nice love letter to the legend.

“Anatomy of a Scene: The Maelstrom” examines how they put together the climactic battle between the Black Pearl and the Dutchman. Both ships were built in one of the biggest soundstages. The filmmakers relied as much on real elements as possible and then enhanced the rest with CGI. They put both ships on huge hydraulic lifts in order to simulate, safely, the stormy seas.

“The Tale of Many Jacks” takes a look at the scene in Davy Jones’ Locker where Jack captains a ship of Jacks. We see how they did it on the set with 10-15 guys dressed up like Depp and then enhanced it with CGI.

Also included are two deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Gore Verbinski. There is a little bit of business between Mackenzie Crook and Lee Arenberg that was unnecessary and another fun scene with Jack and Barbossa as they fight over control of who is going to steer the Black Pearl.

“The World of Chow Yun-Fat” pays tribute to the legendary international movie star and takes a brief look at his working methods. He talks about his character and fulfilling his childhood dream of playing a pirate.

“The Pirate Maestro: The Music of Hans Zimmer” takes a look at how some of the new music for this film came together. We see Zimmer brainstorming ideas and footage of an orchestra performing the music. Zimmer candidly admits that he hopes the music is good.

“Masters of Design” takes a look at various aspects of the production design, including the map that helps find Jack and the challenge of designing it. The creature designer and how Davy Jones’ creepy crew was created is also explored. We see how the look of the Singapore scenes was achieved. There is also a look at how they outfitted Keith Richards. Finally, the creation of the Pirate Code book is examined and we learn that the ancient tome is actually based on historical fact.

“Hoist the Colours” features the creation of one of the pieces of music from the film and we see how closely Verbinski works with Zimmer.

Finally, there is “Inside the Brethren Court,” a brief look at the governing body of pirates and a quick, thumbnail sketch of every pirate lord.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance


Rating: 86%



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