Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (19th December 2007).
The Film

Finally the third installment of the mega-hit series bows on DVD, the summer season was filled with three-quels, third chapters of trilogies such as "Spider-man 3", "Shrek the Third", "Rush Hour 3" and "The Bourne Ultimatum" among the heavy hitters and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" was one of those anticipated pictures. Sadly almost all these installments with the exception of "The Bourne Ultimatum" didn't manage to impress the critics and their box office wasn't as strong as earlier films ("Spider-man 3" though made some serious money) but this Pirates film just didn't live up to the mammoth box office that "Dead Man's Chest" (2006) mustered (it made a ton of money but not as much as the second film). The film was much longer than the previous installment at 169 minutes, the plot was much more convoluted and bloated and the film never felt like it was going in any one direction with some coherency.

Before seeing it on the big screen I remember a conversation with friends who had already seen it, they said that the film had 'no plot' and got 'bad reviews'. My response was that a pirate film needs no plot, it's all about sword fights, swashbuckling, explosions and stunts galore...do you think Black Beard ever said "Arrrrrr, I love me raping and pillaging but I wish I had a plot"? Probably not, but in retrospect I kind of wish this chapter had more to cling onto than just spectacle. Don't get me wrong the spectacle is worth the price of admission but something has gone amiss, and I believe that the pressure of shooting back-to-back and starting this production without a finished script was not the best decision.

Continuing on from where the last film left off, Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) is in possession of Davy Jones' (Bill Bighy) heart and therefore commands him and the Flying Dutchman crew. Ordering them to execute anyone involved in piracy. To confront this, the nine pirate lords need to convene to decide what to do, but Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) confined to Davy Jones' locker after being swallowed by the Kraken, never appointed his successor. Because of this he must be present, so Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) along with Will (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) and the crew of the Black Pearl attempt to rescue Jack and bring him back as they travel to World's End, the gateway to Davy Jones' locker. What results is a lot of behind the back deals, an encounter with Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat) and a whirlpool battle sequence that's so outrageous that it'll have your jaw dragging the floor the entire way through.
Now there were a few flaws with the second film, fewer with the first so by this trend the third is expected to have the most flaws and that is certainly the case. To begin with the plot is entirely contrived and at times too confusing to keep track of, the whole back stabbing each other and not knowing who to trust thing gets old really fast and to be honest I'm not entirely sure why this was included? It's not really needed and felt like an attempt to add drama to the action but only ended up confusing a lot of people. Not a good start. It's quite clear by the film's structure and plot lines that it was written on the fly, while the production was shooting. If only Buena Vista had waited to have a fully fleshed out script then perhaps these problems would not have presented themselves.
I was also disappointed with the Kraken becoming nothing but a passing though, one of the coolest and most frightening monsters in the second film ends up dead in only a few shots of the film and a line of dialogue explaining what happened, that's just poor!

I suppose the filmmaker's had to make way for the newest monster, Calypso, who isn't as impressive as they build her up to be and just ends up being a CGI version of the 50-foot woman that collapses into thousands of little crabs that run away, and supposedly start the storm in which the whirlpool forms...at the end she never really does anything to help our heroes as suggested in the film.

On the outset there's a lot to complain about in this film, but there are a few constants that keep the ship from totally sinking, As usual Depp is brilliant as Jack Sparrow, the scenes including his multiple imaginary selves are mini highlights amid the 169 minutes of this film, but I was wholly impressed with Geoffrey Rush who returns fully fleshed out as Barbossa and manages to steal the show from Depp in almost every scene, not a small feat considering Jack Sparrow is largely what makes these films enjoyable to watch. Equally impressive yet again is Bill Bighy as Davy Jones, the CG captain of the Flying Dutchman makes another impression on this chapter as he finds himself in the service of the East India Trading Company and Lord Beckett.

As usual all the technical stuff is up to scratch, the effects and action are unparalleled especially the whirlpool sequence which utilizes just about every trick in the special effects handbook to pull off and when fully realized is the crowning achievement of the film's effects.

Overall the sense of fun was still there but the confusing who's back-stabbing who plot-line sucked a lot of the fun out. This third installment is even more bloated than the second and it seems like the filmmaker's tried to cram as much into it as possible forgetting a lot about coherency in favor of trying to created drama and blowing the roof off with continuous action set piece.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical widescreen ratio of 2.40:1 this high-definition transfer bursts onto Blu-ray In 1080p 24/fps and has been created using AVC MPEG-4 compression. Carrying on the tradition from the previous films this transfer simply is top notch stuff. These films were virtually made for the HD platform with the lust photography, beautiful and exotic locations, intricate production design and costumes and finally action and special effects and this transfer displays these aspects to a fine degree. Detail is rich and wonderfully rendered from the stubble on the actor's faces to the tiniest ripple in the ocean's waves and intricate designs on jewelry and ornamental objects. Furthermore colors are well rendered and slightly subdued, the film has a darker tone than the previous two and it shows in the photography, but exteriors always look breathtaking and interiors that are dimly lit hold up well under scrutiny and feature hardly any obtrusive noise amid the blacks (although I did notice some) which are deep and bold. Skin tones also appear natural and there was little to no grain throughout the print. This is another reference quality image from Buena Vista and is most certainly the type of disc you'd want to bring out to show off your HD set-up and it'll rest nicely along side the other two films.

Audio

Four audio tracks are included in English Uncompressed PCM 5.1 presented in 48kHz/24-Bit/6.9mpbs as well as standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes in English, French and Spanish. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its PCM soundtrack. I was totally impressed with the film's standard 5.1 mix on the DVD; but I was anxious to try out this PCM mix as the previous films have simply blown me away in terms of the quality, richness, depth and range of their PCM and this one is no exception. The dialogue is clear and distortion free, but that's not why we're here ladies and gentlemen, this is a pirate film with lots of swordplay, gun fights, canons firing and a sweeping score and all these elements along with intricate and subtle ambient and environmental sounds are mixed with other sound effects and direction effects to make one of the most powerful and active uncompressed PCM mixed to bow on Blu-ray to date! This is the kind of track that literally puts a smile on your face the minute it begins and captivates you within its grasp for the entire 169 minutes this film runs for. The aggressive nature demands you watch it at a high volume so as to disturb your neighbors, and any home theater enthusiast will want to come over and check it out instead of complain and knock at your door (although I suppose you might get a lot of that if you pump this up at full volume). I can go on and on about how awesome this track is but realistically you really should experience for yourself.

Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired, French and Spanish.

Extras

Buena Vista Home Entertainment has released this film as a 2-disc set with extras that include bloopers, 11 featurettes, deleted scenes, and two interactive features. Below is a closer look at these supplements broken down per disc.

DISC ONE:

The only major extra on this disc is "Bloopers of the Caribbean" featurette that runs for 5 minutes 21 seconds and as the title suggests these are the bloopers from the production and include some line flubs, cast laughing in takes and other missed cues, etc. There are some funny moments included but overall it's not that great.

Also on this disc are a collection of bonus trailers for:

- "Disney" spot which runs for 52 seconds.
- "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" which runs for 2 minutes 37 seconds.
- "The Game Plan" which runs for 1 minute 2 seconds.
- "Cars" which runs for 2 minutes 37 seconds.
- "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" on Blu-ray which runs for 2 minutes 32 seconds.
- "Disney Theme Parks" spot which runs for 47 seconds.

Finally this first disc also includes a "Movie Showcase", which jumps to three key reference scenes that show off the high-definition quality.

DISC TWO:

First up is "Keith and the Captain: On Set with Johnny and The Rock Legend" a featurette which runs for 4 minutes 41 seconds, it was widely known that Depp based the character of Jack Sparrow on the rocker Keith Richards, who after much speculation finally made an appearance in this installment as Jack's dad Captain Teague, the keeper of the pirate's code. Here we get a short glimpse of the two on set and also interviewed for this clip.

Next up is "Anatomy of a Scene: The Maelstrom" featurette which runs for 19 minutes 34 seconds, this is one of the best clips on the disc and chronicles the making of the whirlpool sequence as the process is broken down showing viewers how the sequences was created and the different tricks of the trade the filmmaker's applied. For a clip that runs under twenty minutes it goes into a lot of detail and provides us with an idea of how challenging and technical these sequences can be.

Following that is "The Tale of the Many Jacks" a featurette that runs for 4 minutes 49 seconds and takes a short look at Jack inside Davy Jones' Locker and how the crew achieved creating many Jack's for those scenes. There's some cool footage of Depp doing his thing and acting to stand-ins for reference as well.

Only 2 deleted scenes are included, which is a bit of a surprise as a film of this scale you'd assume there were many more scenes cut? But alas only 2, in any case these scenes can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' function and also feature optional audio commentary by director Gore Verbinski as he comments on the scenes and why they were cut, the scenes included are:

- "I Like Riddles" which runs for 56 seconds.
- "Two Captains, One Ship" runs for 1 minutes 32 seconds.

After that we've got "The World of Chow Yun-Fat" a featurette that runs for 4 minutes 14 seconds and takes a look at Yun-Fat's involvement in this film, his character and working with the actor as we see some footage on the set.

"The Pirate Maestro: The Music of Hans Zimmer" is a featurette that runs for 10 minutes 32 seconds and is an interview with the composer on the work he did on this film, as we get a closer look at the recording process of the score. In this clip we learn about the film's score and the impact and intention Zimmer wanted for the film's music as it seems to have used the first two as a template and the musical themes expanded in this third installment.

Also on this disc are a series of 5 "Masters of Design" featurettes these clips show us in some detail the design elements to various aspects of the production and include:

- "James Bykrit: Sao Feng's Map" runs for 6 minutes 21 seconds and is a closer look at the design of the map.
- "Crash McCreery: The Cursed Crew" runs for 5 minutes 24 seconds is a closer look at the design and implementation of the cursed crew for this film with the Visual Effects crew member.
- Rick Heinrichs: Singapore" runs for 5 minutes 13 seconds, the production designer takes us through the design of Sao Feng's Singapore.
- "Penny Rose: Teague's Costume" runs for 3 minutes 38 seconds, the costume designer takes us through the design and creation of Captain Teague's costume, the character played by Keith Richards.
- "Kris Peck: The Code Book" runs for 5 minutes 21 seconds, finally the prop master shows us the code book and it's design.

"Hoist the Colors" is another featurette that runs for 4 minutes 41 seconds and takes a look at the song 'Hoist the Colors' and its inspiration, genesis and creation for the film as we get more from composer Zimmer in this clip.

We've also got "Inside the Brethren Court" an interactive feature that allows you to explore the members of the court including bios and profiles.

The HD exclusive extra on this release is "Inside the Maelstrom", which starts out with an 8 minute 30 second featurette that has Producer Jerry Bruckheimer telling us the feature and how to navigate through the set tour. This interactive feature allows you to explore various aspects of the creation of this sequence and you can literally branch out into the various sub-menus that take you through the process of shooting the scenes on blue screens and the special effects, the set concepts, the props used, as well as costume design, lighting the scene, the use of rain, weapons, stunts and also creature designs as well as filming the sequence in a giant hangar. Each segment features a clip that delves into that element. This feature is java based and allows for interactivity and allows you to decide how you want to explore this feature.

Packaging

This Blu-ray Disc is packaged in an standard 2-disc Blu-ray case housed in a cardboard slip-cover.

Overall

The Film: C+ Video: A Audio: A+ Extras: A Overall: A-

 


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