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Walt Disney Home Video presents
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)

Captain Hector Barbossa: The world used to be a bigger place.
Captain Jack Sparrow: The world's still the same. There's just less in it.

- (Geoffrey Rush, Johnny Depp)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: December 02, 2007

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

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action/adventure, violence, some frightening images
Run Time: 02h:46m:25s
Release Date: December 04, 2007
UPC: 786936293012
Genre: adventure


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A+ BA-A+ B+

DVD Review

There's a weird juxtaposition right out of the box with Pirates Of the Caribbean: At World's End, given that it comes from the massive family-friendly Disney empire (an empire that I have gleefully funneled untold fortunes into).

Right after the comforting Cinderella's castle/Disney magic logo that reminds us what's to come is fully mouse-sanctioned, the film begins with an opening scene involving mass public hangings, including that of a small boy. It's a pretty dark way to start any film, let alone one from Disney, and no matter how wildly, insanely popular pirates have become once again thanks to this franchise, I'm sure someone somewhere will be wondering just what the hell is going on. And that's before the remaining two hours and forty-five minutes of sword skewerings, cannon blasts, hurling bodies, and even a gunshot to the forehead.

My, how Disney has grown. And I must say like it.

It's not all smiles and sunshine anymore, and this third installment in the Pirates Of the Caribbean series isn't afraid to pile on the action-related violence, all appropriate given the setting. Sure, there's mountains of money being made, but I cannot imagine the Disney of my youth uncorking such a grandly dark and brutal adventure series. And with director Gore Verbinski helming all three entries (the last two shot almost simultaneously) from scripts by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, there is a cohesive texture to the films, all of which are chok-a-blok heavy with big action set pieces and enough rousing swashbuckling adventure for ten movies.

And it's not like At World's End is a cheapo third act. Hardly. This is a sprawling, effects-heavy adventure, clocking in just short of three hours, driven by a story that not only attempts to pick up where Dead Man's Chest left off, but to try and create an even larger universe of characters, all of whom come together in a swirling final showdown that is about as epic of an action scene as you're ever going to see. Aside from the joy of bickering pirate captains Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), there's an extended legion of colorful international pirate lords (including Chow Yun-Fat) who are part of the Brethren Court, as well as the on-again/off-again romance and destiny of sword wranglers Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley). The tentacle-faced Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) returns with his Flying Dutchman full of fish-mutated crew, all daisychained onto the driving story of the pirates versus the main heavy, Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander).

There's no sense of skimping here, and in a way that's At The World's End's biggest problem. It's almost too much, or at least too long. There's never a sense that this is a cheaply-made film; just one look at any of the manic action sequences or elaborate sets will dispel that notion pretty quickly. And it's not like the characters—especially Rush, who as a pirate is dead-on—are not enjoyable; even the stunt-casting of Rolling Stone Keith Richards comes off far better than I would have imagined. It's just that this one goes on and on, loading on complex action bits after complex action bits, so that by the time Verbinski reaches the somewhat unexpected resolution, it almost comes as relief just to know it's all over.

That's not to say this is an unwatchable film. In fact, it's often fun and quite exciting. It's big, noisy, and full of piratey adventure, almost three hours worth. But that's a lot of swordplay and intertwined destinies, and though I'm no film editor, it probably could have been chopped a little here and there to trim it down without losing any of the epic-ness. Also, be sure to stick around for a post-credits coda that could possibly lay the groundwork for a whole new franchise.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is eyecatching on many levels, only falling a bit short during a few of the darker sequences (especially early on). The transfer itself is pristine, sporting colors that are bright, fleshtones that look natural, and image clarity that is generally razor sharp. No issues with compression problems or artifacting are evident.A beauty.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix delivers all of the qualities one would expect from a big-budget swashbuckler. It's a beautifully aggressive blend on all fronts, utilizing rear channels frequently and effectively, while dialogue remains clear at all times. There's a great sense of movement and directionality throughout, from small creaks to exploding timbers, balanced by deep, clean bass punches.

A 5.1 Spanish dub is also included.

Excellent.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
8 Other Trailer(s) featuring Disney movie promo, 101 Dalmatians: 2-Disc SE, National Treasure: Book Of Secrets, High School Musical 2: Extended Edition, Underdog, The Game Plan, Pirates Of The Caribbean Online, Pirates Of The Caribbean Blu-Ray
2 Deleted Scenes
Production Notes
1 Documentaries
15 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: This two-disc set comes housed with an attractive, lightly embossed slipcover that is identical to the interior case artwork. Inside the case are a pair of mouse-centric promotional booklets, hyping Pirates merchandise and the Disney Movie Rewards program. Also inside is a fold-out insert that serves as a roadmap of sorts for the disc content.

Disc 1 carries the feature, cut into a rather thin set of 28 chapters (given its nearly three hour runtime), available with optional English or Spanish subtitles. As per usual, Disney has frontloaded a number of previews, and included a couple more under the Sneak Peeks section. I was sort of surprised at the absence of a commentary track, and the only bonus item on Disc 1 is Bloopers Of The Caribbean (05m:23s), which is fun only if you enjoy watching flubbed lines and dropped props. Not for me, really.

Disc 2 is where the remaining supplementals lie, and most of the material is cut into small segments, with the exception of one long technical piece.

By now we all know Depp based the Sparrow character on a certain rock guitarist, so Keith and The Captain: On The Set With Johnny and The Rock Legend (04m:41s) won't be a big reveal. The content (what content?) is frothy, but there's some behind-the-scenes footage, comments from Depp, Richards, and Bruckheimer, and even Richards' impromptu version of Spanish Ladies played on the guitar his Captain Teague strums in the film. Anatomy Of A Scene: The Maelstrom (19m:31s) looks at the construction of the massive interior set designed for the big action climax. This kind of stuff never ceases to fascinate me, but if watching sets being built, moved, and rained on doesn't float your boat, you'll want to move on.

The Tale Of Many Jacks (04m:49s) kicks off with writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio talking about wanting to "get weird" with this third film, specifically discussing the scenes where there are multiple Jack Sparrows, and the technical issues involved. The World of Chow Yun-Fat (04m:14s) addresses how the actor ended up as a pirate lord, and does feature subtitled input from Chow Yun-Fat. The Pirate Maestro: The Music Of Hans Zimmer (10m:31s) is an interesting look at the creation of the rousing score, with discussion of things like merging new and old themes throughout. Similarly, Hoist The Colours (04m:41s) zeroes in on the concept and original idea behind the unusual opening song used during the mass hanging sequence.

Masters Of Design is the heading given to five short pieces that isolate individual design elements from the film, and focuses on the principle production people responsible. Not overly long, these are bite-size acknowledgements at best, some more engaging than others, but all watchable. The segments are: James Byrkit: Sao Feng's Map (06m:19s), Crash McCreery: The Cursed Crew (05m:24s), Rick Heinrichs: Singapore (05m:13s), Penny Rose: Teague's Costume (03m:37s), and Kris Peck: The Code Book (05m:20s). A pair of deleted scenes are available with an optional-but-dry Gore Verbinski commentary, though considering the two scenes run :56s and 01m:30s, there isn't all that much room to elaborate. The longer of the two is worthwhile, featuring a conversation between Rush's Barbossa and Depp's Sparrow.

Inside The Brethren Court has a :55s intro explaining the general history of the assorted pirate lords, which then transforms into a screen where one can click on the various pieces of eight to get a little backstory on that particular pirate. There are also three Easter Eggs: the first entitled In Search Of The Perfect Peanut (02m:06s), a light-hearted peek at the first time we see Depp's character in this film. The other two are untitled, but one looks at the work of famous-but-not-a-household-name drummer Simon Phillps (02m:08s) and the other is an animatic of a key scene involving a pirate ship sailing off the edge of the world.

The content on Disc 2 is available with optional subs in English, French, or Spanish.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

I love a good trilogy and I have no problem with movies pushing the three-hour mark, but At The World's End goes on a little long for its own good. Set and production design are both stunning, the action sequences are exciting and well done, the characters are familiar and fun, but the story itself seems to loop around just to make the whole thing longer than it needs to be.

This two-disc set carries a pair of excellent audio and image transfers, so it's not like it will be a chore to sit through, especially if you have a spiffy A/V setup.

Trilogy completists will snap this up, but it's recommended as a rental, at the very least, for everyone else.

 


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