Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.

DVD Review: 'Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End'

As the purported final chapter to the swashbuckling Disney franchise, "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" is no doubt the biggest, strangest and most ambitious of the three films. In an effort to save piracy from being eradicated by the East India Trading Company, the crew of The Black Pearl set out to rescue Captain Jack (Johnny Depp) and reunite him with the pirate lords from many lands (and seas). Not only does the action span the globe, but it also ventures into otherworldly lands on different planes and into the twisted, rum-soaked mind of Captain Jack Sparrow.

As expected, the wealth of bonus features provided on the 2-disc DVD set qualifies as a veritable booty of explanatory, educational and entertaining material. It's all a bit exhausting after taking in the nearly three-hour film, but thankfully the majority of the features are brief and for once there's no audio commentary to wade through.

The most creative bonus feature is "Inside the Brethren Court," in which viewers use their remote controls to navigate through images of each of the pirate lord's "pieces of eight." Selecting each insignia triggers a video short explaining to whom the piece belongs, its significance and background on that pirate lord, providing enlightening and sometimes hilarious insight into the unwashed faces we only see briefly in the film.

Newcomers to the franchise, Keith Richards and Chow Yun Fat, get their own featurettes that are basically love fests for the two performers. Lighthearted and brief, "Keith & the Captain" and "The World of Chow Yun Fat," show the cast and crew's reactions to the men as well as their laid-back personalities on set.

This disc's bonus features are all about recognizing the efforts of those who have been contributing to the franchise in unsung ways. Composer Hans Zimmer finally gets recognition for his rousing, emotional and moody score in "The Pirate Maestro," which shows how he and director Gore Verbinski (who plays the guitar) feed off of each other during the creative process. This is further emphasized in "Hoist the Colours," which is the haunting song sung by the pirate sympathizers as they're waiting to be hanged in the film's opening scene.

Similarly, in "Masters of Design," five craftsmen detail their production contributions to the film. It would have been nice to have a "play all" feature on this, but in general it was fairly enlightening. James Byrkit's efforts to create Sao Feng's map and Kris Peck's hours spent creating the pirate codex (code book) are admirably insane and extensive. Just a taste of the creativity and manpower it took to make these props are given, but it's clear that there's more to their story.

Crash McCreery also gets some attention for his character design for Davy Jones' cursed crew, including Davy himself and his tentacle-y beard. Also featured is Penny Rose -- who created Teague's (Keith Richards) costume from curtains -- and Rick Heinrichs -- who headed the team to create the world of Singapore, the crossroads of Asia in that era.

A rather hilarious featurette, "The Tale of Many Jacks," concentrates on the odd sequence in which Jack's many personality traits are embodied and crew a ship. Depp found it a strange challenge, and he and Verbinski had a cracking good time dreaming up the various vignettes and characters, such as the Chickenman version of Jack. This feature also shows the biggest fake dreadlocks ever created for film.

Other "biggest ever" creations include the set used for the maelstrom sequence, "Anatomy of a Maelstrom" in which giant gimbals were used to rock scaled-down versions of The Black Pearl and The Flying Dutchman inside a huge warehouse. It's the biggest action sequence ever attempted, and the bonus feature details the vast challenge this presented.

Since there are only two deleted scenes, it's well worth it to watch them first without and then with the audio commentary by Verbinski. It's just one more insight into the process and decisions necessary in making the film. Although bloopers were advertised on the DVD's packaging, somehow they weren't easily found on the special features menu.

EXTRAS: Keith & the Captain: On Set With Johnny Depp and the Rock Legend; bloopers; deleted scenes with optional commentary, The Tale of Many Jacks; Anatomy of a Scene: The Maelstrom; Masters of Design -- Creating the Pirates' World; The World of Chow Yun-Fat; Inside the Brethren Court; The Pirate Maestro: The Music of Hans Zimmer; Hoist the Colours: The Story Behind the Song
PRICE: $34.99

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Comments
Loading