Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End
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Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End

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DVD

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Blu-ray

One formula that has truly been tested by time is that of the pirate story. Some of he earliest fiction in recorded history concerns itself with adventure on the high seas; men looting ships and beautiful women to fight over. Literature is full of pirates from Treasure Island to Captain Kidd to the musical Pirates of Penzance. Even the early films such as Seas Hawks thrilled a generation of movie goers. Since 2003 Disney films has hit the big time once again with a pirate sensation. Not since Peter Pan has the House of Mouse given so much to attention to these brigands of the deep. While some films are based on novels, plays or even songs this series of films is based on of all things an amusement park ride. Keeping with its roots the latest installment in the franchise, ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End’ once again comes up light on plot but delivers big time in terms of action. This film is a prime example of how the cutting edge technology of computer generated special effects has grown in just a few short years. Compared even to the first pirate flick in the series this one is an incredible ride through imagination. While the second film lacked a bit in the story department this one returns the franchise to having and actual plot to follow. There is even a little underplayed commentary about a government talking away civil rights. The primary function of a film like this is to give the audience entertainment like they have never seen before. In this the producers have wildly succeeded. The one thing about this movie is its length. Coming in under three hours it may be exciting but too long for many to take, albeit it is better seen on DVD than in the theater where at least you can stop for a break or two.

As the film opens we see a large group on poorly dressed men and women being lead up a gallows. An official in full military dress reads and announcement that His Majesty’s representative, Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) has declared martial law and suspended such rights as habeas corpus, the right to assemble and the legal right to council and jury trial. Anyone found involved in the slightest way with piracy will be immediately put to death. Next we see Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) in coolie garb paddling a boat in Asia. Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) helps her elude some British soldiers and takes to a clandestine meeting with Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat) the master of the Singapore pirate clan. Barbossa and Elizabeth are looking for a ship and crew but it turns out that just that day a thief tried to steal some valuable navigation charts. The thief, now bound and gagged is none other than Will Turner (Orlando Bloom). A warning song has been sung and Barbossa demands that the pirate Brethren Court be assembled. The British invade Feng’s stronghold and most escape in the melee. Barbossa offers Feng the pirate ship Black Pearl in exchange for Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Will objects wanting to use the pearl to obtain the freedom of his father ‘Bootstrap’ Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) from the infamous Flying Dutchman. Feng needs Sparrow to buy immunity with Beckett from the new draconian laws. They find Jack on a secluded island, Davy Jone’s Locker where cursed pirates are in a sort of purgatory. Here Jack hallucinates being on a ship populated by a crew made up of versions of him. Barbossa and the crew rescue him but find him more mad than usual. Reluctantly Jack joins them. It turns out that Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) has made some deals for himself with Beckett. The pirate Brethren Court meets with Elizabeth taking the spot of Lord of Singapore after the untimely demise of Feng. A pirate king is necessary to declare war and after some debate Elizabeth finds the title is hers. What follows are epic battles, seas chases, general mayhem and amazing special effects.

Some stories may require two hours and forty eight minutes to tell. This one didn’t. There are far too many shots of the ships on the open seas. If all you want is to see a ship sailing you can always tune into the History Channel. A film like this gets the audience for one reason, action. While there is plenty to go around there is too much down time than required. Unlike many multi film franchises at least this one kept the same director for all three parts, Gore Verbinski. At this point he knows how to present a film like this, excess sailing time accepted. While he knows how to direct action his sense of comedy appears to have fallen off in this film. The jokes are not as cutting edge as the first two flicks. You will be blown away by the special effects. This film is incredible in the seamless integration of practical and computer generated shots. After three films the computer people in charge of the effects have it down to an art. In order to obtain the script here it appears that the writers threw every scrap of pirate lore into a blender and hit puree. Every cliché about pirates is here. The only thing missing is to have one of them sing ‘Pirate King’ from Penzance.

The role of Jack Sparrow could only be played by Johnny Depp. He wears the persona like an old pair of comfortable blue jeans. He plays his role with a comic ease that is still a wonder to watch. He combines a dark, disturbed character with one that is almost child-like in his playfulness. Normally girls don’t respond to action flicks like the guys. Here Keira Knightley gives both genders something to watch. She is the embodiment of female empowerment. Her role has grown from the usual damsel in distress to a full on action figure. Any of the tabloids that accuse this young actress of an eating disorder should take a look at her abs. The girl is cut more than any of the men around. Unfortunately Orlando Bloom’s part has been downgraded more the background.

Disney is offering several versions of this DVD release. You could opt for the regular widescreen version but the only extras you get with that are the director’s commentary and a blooper reel. For about $5 more go for the deluxe two disc set. The second disc is a pirate’s treasure chest of goodies. The first is ‘Keith and the Captain’. Here Depp muses about the producers casting rock legend Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones to play his father in the film. Depp has stated numerous times that he was a large part of how he modeled Sparrow. The two chat together about their experience making this a must watch extra. Next is ‘Anatomy of a Scene: the Maelstrom’. This is a detailed behind the scenes look at the construction of the huge set required to film a realistic storm at see. Real sized ships had to be mounted on levels that would role them as large amounts of water are tossed about. ‘The Tale of Many Jacks’ is a whimsical look at how the computer geniuses populated a ship with generated images of Depp. Next are a couple of deleted scenes with optional director’s commentary. Now you come to ‘The World of Chow Yun-Fat’. Here the audience is given a look at the famed martial artist and his involvement in the film. ‘The Pirate Maestro: The Music of Hans Zimmer’ focuses on the magical musical score used in the film. ‘Masters of Design’ is a five part featurette that highlights some of the talented people that created the world of pirates. ‘Hoist the Colours’ is another look at the musical integration for the film. Lastly there is ‘The Brethren Court’ which focuses on the assembled group of pirate lords. There are also two hidden features. One is a look at drummer Simon Phillips who has played with some of the best rock bands around. The other is a lighthearted look at the scene where Depp has to eat a single peanut and it is very funny who much work went into something so small. While not as good as the first film this is still one of the better popcorn flicks around. The whole family will want to watch this over and over.

Posted 11/18/07

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