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Gore Verbinski
Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, Jack Davenport, Bill Nighy, Jonathan Pryce, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook, Kevin McNally, Tom Hollander, Stellan Skarsgård
Writing Credits:
Ted Elliott (and characters), Terry Rossio (and characters), Stuart Beattie (characters), Jay Wolpert (characters)

Just when he’s needed most, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), that witty and wily charmer of a pirate, is trapped on a sea of sand in Davy Jones’ Locker. In an increasingly shaky alliance, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) begin a desperate quest to find and rescue him. Captain Jack’s the last of the nine Pirate Lords of the Brethren Court who must come together united in one last stand to preserve the freedom-loving pirates’ way of life. From exotic Singapore, to World’s End and beyond, from Shipwreck Island, to a titanic battle, this adventure’s filled with over-the-edge action, irreverent humor and seafaring myth and magic. Everything has led to this twisting, turning, wild swashbuckling ride in this final chapter of the Pirates Of The Caribbean trilogy

Box Office:
$300 million.
Opening Weekend
$139.802 million on 4362 screens.
Domestic Gross
$309.404 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 169 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 12/4/2007

Disc One
• “Bloopers of the Caribbean”
• Sneak Peeks
Disc Two
• “Keith and the Captain: On Set with Johnny and the Rock Legend” Featurette
• “Anatomy of a Scene: The Maelstrom” Featurette
• “The Tale of Many Jacks” Featurette
• Two Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• “The World of Chow Yun-Fat” Featurette
• “The Pirate Maestro: The Music of Hans Zimmer” Featurette
• “Masters of Design” Featurettes
• “Hoist the Colours” Featurette
• “Inside the Brethren Court” Interactive Feature


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End - Limited Edition (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 20, 2007)

When Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl hit screens in 2003, its box office success shocked people. The movie earned more than $300 million and became that year’s third biggest hit. All this for a film that looked like it’d be a cheesy piece of nothing.

Of course, this meant that 2006’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest came with much higher expectations – which it then managed to surpass. Sure, everyone thought Chest would be a hit, but few anticipated that it’d rake it an amazing $422 million, a figure that currently puts it sixth on the list of the biggest moneymakers of all time.

Rather than wait another three years for a third Pirates effort, POTC: At World’s End rushed onto movie screens. Was this a good idea financially? Probably not. Sure, few will sneeze at the flick’s $309 million gross; it narrowly surpassed the take of Pearl, in fact. But after the heights of Chest, that figure felt like a disappointment. In a summer crowded with other “threequels”, End got a little lost in the shuffle.

It’s also possible that audiences just weren’t all that excited about another Pirates movie so soon. There’s something to be said for the power of anticipation, and I doubt many were worked up about a new Pirates less than a year after its predecessor. I suppose the studio figured they’d better strike while the iron was hot, but I wonder if End would’ve done better a) with a few years to build demand and b) in a less crowded field of movies.

All that aside, does End finish the Pirates trilogy in a satisfying way? Partially, though the movie comes with more flaws than I’d like, many of which relate to story.

Which is why although I usually write my own plot synopses, this time I’ll take mine straight from the press release. “Just when he’s needed most, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), that witty and wily charmer of a pirate, is trapped on a sea of sand in Davy Jones’ (Bill Nighy) Locker. In an increasingly shaky alliance, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) begin a desperate quest to find and rescue him. Captain Jack’s the last of the nine Pirate Lords of the Brethren Court who must come together united in one last stand to preserve the freedom-loving pirates’ way of life.”

Does that synopsis adequately summarize the story of End? No, because it persuades us that the tale actually makes sense. The first two Pirates films weren’t terribly coherent either, but they seem tight and concise compared to this sprawling mess.

Before I saw End theatrically. I invited a friend of mine who rarely hits these big blockbusters. She went to see Spider-Man 3 and Shrek the Third with me but made me give her summaries of the earlier flicks because she’d seen none of them.

Since she’d also skipped the first two Pirates movies, she decided not to give it a look, and initially I thought that was a good thing. She worried she’d be lost in the fairly simple worlds of Spidey and Shrek, so it figured that the more convoluted machinations of the Pirates tales would make End completely incomprehensible for her.

In retrospect, she might as well have gone with me to see End. I saw Pearl and Chest twice apiece and End still didn’t make a darned lick of sense to me. Even without a Pirates primer, she couldn’t possibly have been more confused than I was.

When I discussed End on the HTF, my comment simply read “Have no idea what the movie was about - it featured 752 different plots, none of which made any sense - but enjoyed it anyway”. I stand by that remark and feel half-tempted to leave things there. I’m not sure that there’s much else to say about End, especially since it boasts so many of the same strengths and weaknesses of its predecessors – especially the similarly up and down Chest. Pearl comes across as a much more consistently enjoyable and coherent flick compared to its often sloppy and disjointed sequels.

But even with their many confusing plot twists and other flaws, End and Chest entertain. In fact, I prefer End, as it at least managed to be quite satisfying when I saw it theatrically. I recall that Chest left me cold during its first act and needed a while to involve me, while End had me interested from its opening.

Interested and confused, I must admit, as all those story threads managed to keep me moderately befuddled. For this sort of movie, the viewer probably should just declare defeat and accept that most of the tale will make little sense. Don’t attempt to figure out any of it and you’ll like it more.

That’s because End - like its predecessors – manages to succeed where it’s most important: in terms of the “fun factor”. The Pirates series doesn’t want to be anything more than he cinematic equivalent of a theme park ride, and the films usually deliver those particular goods.

Actually, in the case of End, the term “fun” probably doesn’t fit. It takes a darker path much of the time, so while it delivers lots of action, it lacks that loose sense of goofy fun that made the first flick endearing. Is that a bad thing? No, not really, but it means that End largely jettisons light-hearted elements in favor of intensity.

And it does pretty well in that regard, as End pours on the action sequences. Since the first two included a lot of good scenes of that sort, this one needs to up the ante, and it satisfies in that regard. The action feels like part of the series but manages to remain inventive and creative.

Don’t take these statements to indicate that End offers a by-the-numbers effort devoid of any unusual elements. The film actually takes some risks and goes off toward some weird tangents. The most notable quirky sequence comes from our glimpse of Captain Jack in purgatory. He hallucinates multiple Captain Jacks and also experiences weird interactions with rock-like crabs.

During this segment, the movie deviates from its main plot for a distinctly strange experience. It doesn’t do much to forward the story, but it earns points for sheer oddness. It’s impressive to find a mega-blockbuster like this that allows time for such unusual material. Is it self-indulgent? Sure, but it works.

One can make that accusation about much of End. Does the film really need to run almost three hours? Certainly not, and if the filmmakers could’ve tightened up the tale, they could’ve made it a more concise experience. There’s clearly too much fat here.

That said, I can’t say I truly mind the running time. Objectively, it is too long and self-indulgent, but it keeps us interested enough so that we don’t really object to the length. The action carries the day.

The return of a character largely missing from Chest also helps. Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Barbossa was MIA for 99 percent of that flick, but he plays an active part here. His scenes with Depp are a delight and bring real life to the screen. They compensate for the chick flick blandness of the Will/Elizabeth love story.

Or should I criticize the turgid Will side of things, as Elizabeth gets a pretty active role in End. This means the Will/Elizabeth romance takes a back seat, but I don’t mind since those scenes tend to be so blah. Of all the series’ characters, Elizabeth demonstrates the greatest character arc, and she becomes her own woman along the way. It’s good they originally cast someone as talented as Knightley in the role. Other actresses would’ve found it tough to be more than window dressing, but she pulls off Elizabeth’s developing toughness with aplomb.

Objectively, POTC: At World’s End comes with a lot of flaws. Too many storylines, too long, and too many nonsensical bits. None of that matters, as the film delivers the requisite action and excitement. It provides a worthy conclusion to the trilogy.

Footnote: be sure to stick around through the conclusion of the end credits for an interesting coda.

The DVD Grades: Picture A/ Audio A/ Bonus B

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The best-looking Pirates DVD of the three, I couldn’t find any concerns here.

Sharpness always came across well. At no point did softness interfere with the presentation. The movie appeared concise and accurate. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and edge haloes were minimal. Happily, print flaws appeared totally absent, as I noticed no specks, grit or other defects.

I wouldn’t expect a pirate film to come bursting with dynamic hues, and the tones of Pirates looked appropriately subdued. The movie displayed colors that fit within its setting well, though, and they came across as clean and well developed. Given the atmosphere of the movie, blacks became more important, and the DVD presented nicely rich and dense dark tones. Shadows were good. They caused some distractions in the prior flicks, but here they looked clean and smooth. I felt very pleased with this consistently excellent transfer.

No complaints accompanied the excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of End. The soundfield was wonderfully dynamic and involving. The various channels presented a surfeit of information that blended together with great clarity and smoothness. All elements seemed placed accurately within the environment, and these components moved neatly across and between the speakers. This helped create a good sense of place and made the action all the more engrossing.

Lots of action sequences brought out the strengths in the soundfield. The battles at sea added the best moments, but plenty of other elements stood out as strong. These used the surrounds well and created a lively, immersive piece.

I also found the audio quality to live up to high standards. Speech came across as firm and natural, and I noticed no edginess. Music occasionally risked getting submerged beneath all the action, but the score remained bright and dynamic nonetheless, as the mix depicted these components vividly. Of course, the effects remained the stars of the show, and they appeared well displayed. The different elements sounded distinctive and clean, with no distortion or other issues. Dynamic range was excellent, and low-end seemed superb. Bass response always stayed tight and rich. Overall, I felt quite pleased with the audio.

The first Pirates DVD included two audio commentaries. The Chest disc presented one. In this downward spiral, we get none for End. Perhaps a potential double-dip will include one, but it come as a disappointment that End offers no audio commentaries.

That means we find little on DVD One. Bloopers of the Caribbean is a five-minute and 23-second compilation of antics from the set. There’s nothing out of the ordinary here, as we get lots of goofs and guffaws.

The disc includes the usual complement of ads at the start of the disc. When you pop the platter in your player, you’ll find promos for 101 Dalmatians, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, High School Musical 2 and Underdog. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with clips for Pirates of the Caribbean Online, The Game Plan and Blu-Ray discs. No trailer for At World’s End appears anywhere in this package.

Moving to DVD Two, we open with some featurettes. Keith and the Captain: On Set with Johnny and the Rock Legend goes for four minutes, 41 seconds as it offers shots from the set, movie clips, and interviews. We hear from producer Jerry Bruckheimer, guitar maker Danny Ferrington and actors Johnny Depp and Keith Richards. They tell us how they got Keith to play Jack’s father and reveal a few tidbits from the shoot. The level of information seems insubstantial, as most of it falls into the “Keith rules!” category. However, it’s fun to see him on the set, especially when he – inevitably – botches his lines.

Another featurette follows with the 19-minute and 30-second Anatomy of a Scene: The Maelstrom. It presents remarks from Bruckheimer, Depp, director Gore Verbinski, executive producers Bruce Hendricks, Mike Stenson and Chad Oman, writers Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott, special effects supervisor John Frazier, director of photography Dariusz Wolski, production assistant Nicole Matteson, unit production manager Douglas Merrifield, visual effects supervisors Roger Guyett and John Knoll, special effects gimbal foreman Jim Thomas, chief lighting technician Rafael E. Sanchez, stunt coordinator George Marshall Ruge, ILM animation supervisor Hal Hickel, compositing supervisor Eddie Pasquarello, Maelstrom water effects supervisor Joakim Arnesson, digital production supervisor David Meny, and actors Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, and Bill Nighy.

“Anatomy” looks at all of the challenges that went into the creation of the film’s climactic scene. We learn about the sets, the effects, the action, and other concerns. While we get some good details along the way, too much of the show focuses on impressing us with the enormity of the project. Despite those elements, there’s enough worthwhile content to make this one worth a look.

Next comes the four-minute and 48-second The Tale of the Many Jacks. This piece discusses the creation of the scenes with multiple Depps. We hear from Elliott, Rossio, Depp, Wolski, Bruckheimer, first AD David Venghaus, editors Stephen Rivkin and Craig Wood, costume designer Penny Rose, and production designer Rick Heinrichs. They go over the effects and other issues that came with the shots that included duplicate Captain Jacks. Short but sweet, this piece gets into the topics well and proves both interesting and informative.

Two Deleted Scenes go for a total of two minutes, 26 seconds. These include “I Like Riddles” (0:56) and “Two Captains, One Ship” (1:30). The first one features Pintel and Ragetti and acts to set up the later scene when he solves a riddle. The second shows the rivalry between Barbossa and Sparrow. Neither is necessary, though “Riddles” probably would’ve added more to the film. We don’t need “Ship” since the various films long ago set up the conflicts between those guys.

We can watch these with or without commentary from Verbinski. He gives us a little background for the sequences and lets us know why he cut them. Verbinski’s short remarks add value.

With that we return to the featurettes. The World of Chow Yun-Fat fills four minutes, 14 seconds with comments from Bruckheimer, Bloom, Ruge, and actors Chow Yun-Fat and Reggie Lee. We learn a little about Chow’s working methods, but mostly the piece discusses his greatness. It doesn’t bring much to the table.

The Pirate Maestro: The Music of Hans Zimmer lasts 10 minutes, 31 seconds, and includes Bruckheimer, Wood, Rivkin and composer Zimmer. We find info about the musical themes found in the movie. Zimmer dominates as he gives us a nice glimpse of his work for End.

We get a collection of featurettes under the banner of Masters of Design. This area features “James Byrkit: Sao Feng’s Map” (6:18), “Crash McCreery: The Cursed Crew” (5:23), “Rick Heinrichs: Singapore” (5:13), “Penny Rose: Teague’s Costume” (3:37) and “Kris Peck: The Code Book” (5:20). We hear from Heinrichs, Rose, property master Kris Peck, conceptual consultant James Byrkit, creature designer Crash McCreery, standby painter AJ Leonardi, Jr. and shajdks Celeste dshakjdsahd. Each looks at various production specifics. The shows cover the design and implementation of Sao Feng’s map, the creation of Davy Jones and his freaky shipmates, the Singapore set, Captain Teague’s costume, and the making of the Pirates Code book.

The different featurettes approach their topics in a limited way, by which I mean that they focus on subjects more specific than “visual effects” or “set design”. I like that micro approach to the material, as the tightness of the focus allows the programs to dig into their subjects in a dynamic manner. These turn into a series of good pieces.

Next we find the four-minute and 41-second Hoist the Colours. It presents notes from Zimmer as it looks at the opening sequence and its song. The show offers a decent look at this subject, especially as it examines the tune’s development.

Finally, we locate an interactive feature called Inside the Brethren Court. After a 55-second video introduction, we can select the various Pieces of Eight and learn about the different Pirate Lords. It’s a fun way to get a little more information about these personalities since the movie doesn’t tell us much about them.

The original Pirates of the Caribbean remains the best, but that doesn’t mean At World’s End doesn’t do well for itself. The movie comes with a number of issues but turns into one of those examples of a whole that exceeds the sum total of its parts. Despite some weak storytelling and an excessive running time, it manages to entertain. The DVD offers excellent picture and audio but the extras don’t live up to those found with the first two releases; they’re good but a disappointment given all the great components included on those releases. Nonetheless, this is a nice release for an enjoyable flick.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.4594 Stars Number of Votes: 37
3 3:
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