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Pirates of the Caribbean on DVD: The Curse of the Black Pearl - 2-Disc CE3-Disc Gift Set / Dead Man's Chest / At World's End

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

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End movie poster - click to buy Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Theatrical Release: May 24, 2007 / Running Time: 168 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Gore Verbinski

Cast: Johnny Depp (Captain Jack Sparrow), Geoffrey Rush (Captain Barbossa), Orlando Bloom (Will Turner), Keira Knightley (Elizabeth Swann), Jack Davenport (Jack Norrington), Bill Nighy (Captain Davy Jones), Jonathan Pryce (Governor Weatherby Swann), Lee Arenberg (Pintel), Mackenzie Crook (Ragetti), Kevin R. McNally (Gibbs), David Bailie (Cotton), Stellan Skarsgård (Bootstrap Bill Turner), Tom Hollander (Lord Cutler Beckett), Naomie Harris (Tia Dalma), Martin Klebba (Marty), David Schofield (Mercer), Lauren Maher (Scarlett), Chow Yun-Fat (Captain Sao Feng), Keith Richards (Captain Teague), Dominic Scott Kay (Young Will Turner), Reggie Lee (Tai Hung)

Buy At World's End from Amazon.com: 2-Disc Limited Edition DVDSingle-Disc DVDBlu-ray Disc

By Kelvin Cedeno

When a film does phenomenally well at the box office, a studio's first instinct is to go forth with a sequel. Disney unsurprisingly went this route after 2003's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl grossed $305 million domestically and $654 million worldwide. Following in the steps of Warner Brothers' The Matrix sequels, Disney decided to film two follow-ups consecutively, with the first ending in a cliffhanger.
The strategy worked, for the second Pirates film, Dead Man’s Chest, broke records left and right by earning an astounding $423 million domestically and over $1 billion worldwide in 2006. It is unclear how Dead Man’s Chest's success may have affected the production of the third installment, but compared to its immediate predecessor, the colossal earnings of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($309 M domestically and $961 M worldwide) seemed merely expected and even a little less than that.

At World's End picks up immediately where the previous film left off. The now-resurrected Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) sets off with the rest of the crew of the Black Pearl to get Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) out of the dreaded locker of Davy Jones. Barbossa's intentions are far from sentimental, for Jack is merely a pawn in an effort to stop Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) from controlling the seas. To do this, the goddess Calypso must be freed from her human body Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) by means of the nine pieces of eight possessed by the Pirate Lords. Of course, Jack happens to be one of the Lords, which makes his rescue so vital.

Concurrent with all of this are the relationship and communication problems of betrothed couple Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley). Will intends to free his father, Bootstrap Bill (Stellan Skarsgård), from service on Davy Jones' ship, the Flying Dutchman. The fact that Beckett controls Jones via the latter's gouged-out heart, however, presents complications. It also proves to be a setback for Jack, since whoever stabs the heart becomes the immortal captain of the Flying Dutchman, a prospect Jack simply can't resist.

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) aims carefully for his big money shot. A lack of trust is the one thing everyone aboard this ship holds in common.

This is all merely the tip of the iceberg, as the film presents a tangled web of crisscrossing subplots. One can be more than a little overwhelmed on a first viewing, for it takes a second (or third) seeing to fully grasp all of the character arcs. While this could be seen as a devious ploy to encourage multiple viewings (and thus inflate ticket sales), one has to give credit to the filmmakers for at least not taking the easy way out. Sequels often remake their predecessors and/or play things safe where both the filmmakers and audience are familiar and comfortable. At World's End at least tries something new and asks the audience to consider a plot, a request few summer blockbusters make.

That said, the film does suffer from script problems. The storylines take too many self-indulgent diversions in reaching simple plot points. An entire thread involving a visit to Singapore is woven just to retrieve a map. It's true that without this subplot, Elizabeth's role in the war against the East India Trading Company wouldn't exist. Still, there must have been a simpler way to achieve this. If they were in a novel, such detours would be axed and streamlined for a film adaptation. The procrastination baffles all the more since this is an original film (with only loose connections to a theme park ride).

Another issue is in regards to deaths that occur for two characters that appeared in the first two movies. Their demises serve little to no purpose in the big picture. Considering what little screen time they both had in this, the decision to kill them off makes it seem like the filmmakers didn't know what else to do with them ("nothing" being an act this hectic production wouldn't dare commit). This especially disappoints because one of these characters had a promising arc that goes unrealized here.

Despite believing Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) to be a goddess, Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat) is awfully carnal towards her. Jack, Elizabeth, and Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) with Jack the Monkey in tow power walk along the beach to confront their rivals.

Even with all these problems, the film accomplishes what it sets out do: entertain. The strengths are able to offset the convoluted story. All of the performances are on-par with the previous films. It doesn't hurt, either, that Geoffrey Rush returns as Hector Barbossa. His character was the only one in Curse of the Black Pearl that could bounce off of Jack's one-liners rather than stare at him bemusedly. The dynamic between the two offers most of the comedy of At World’s End (outside of the expected dose from Pintel and Ragetti). These scenes are a breath of fresh air in a film that's noticeably darker and more serious than its predecessors.

One can’t speak of Pirates without addressing Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow. His performance in this chapter is more bizarre and less coy on account of his time spent in Davy Jones' locker.
The filmmakers wisely cut back on his screen time, appropriate if you view Jack as a supporting character to Will and Elizabeth, a theory that's supported by comparing screentimes in the first film. Only when Depp's performance stole the show and brought in the crowds did he become the main focus as in Dead Man's Chest. Here in the third film, he’s essentially serving again as support, though Depp naturally makes the most of it.

With the effects work causing the film to go over budget and be rushed to completion in time for release, the results could have been wildly erratic. Thankfully, this is not the case. The blue-screen work is absolutely seamless, and the CGI is photorealistic. Davy Jones, just as in the previous film, is convincing enough that one forgets he's the product of motion-capture animation. The effects become particularly impressive during the climax, where every shot contains some visual effect for the span of over 20 minutes. If there’s one aspect here that no one can deny, it's that a plethora of eye candy pervades the film.

Eye candy is really all most audiences members want in a summer blockbuster. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End strives to be more than that. While it may not always succeed as smoothly as it'd like, it's still an entertaining conclusion to the trilogy. The top-notch performances and effects help sell the material, and the film as a whole manages to wrap up plot threads satisfyingly, bringing things full circle. It lacks the effortless charm of the original, but At World’s End concludes the Pirates trilogy on a stronger note than most film franchises could wish for.

Buy Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2-Disc Limited Edition) from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish;
Extras Subtitled; Closed Captioned
Release Date: December 4, 2007
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s)
Suggested Retail Price: $34.99
Embossed Holographic, Reflective Cardboard Slipcover
Also available in Single-Disc DVD
and on Blu-ray Disc


Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End arrives in an anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen transfer. Like its predecessors, no fullscreen version is available, more likely thanks to Gore Verbinski's insistence than Disney wanting to preserve artistic integrity.
Either way, the transfer is excellent. Sharpness is always consistently detailed. Some mild compression artifacts show up from time to time (seen most easily in the locker sequence), but are never distracting. Colors are usually dark and subdued, but this is how the film was color-timed and accurately replicates the palette seen in theaters. This is the best of the Pirates transfers on DVD.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack is of an equally high caliber. As to be expected of a recent action-adventure, surrounds are put to fantastic use, particularly during the maelstrom sequence. Dialogue (outside of some of Tia Dalma's lines) is intelligible and also partake in directional surrounds. Hans Zimmer's rousing score is sometimes a bit loud, but this is intentional, and it's never so loud as to drown out dialogue. This is easily one of the best surround soundtracks of the year.

Johnny Depp woos over his goat co-star in the blooper reel. What a kid! Keith Richards’ unique mannerisms garner laughs on the set. Johnny Depp rehearses with a double for his big fight scene with Davy Jones.


As with Dead Man's Chest, At World's End comes to DVD in separate single-disc and double-disc editions. The lone feature the two share is "Bloopers of the Caribbean" (5:22). As is expected, many goofs, flubs, and laughs occur.
What elevates this above standard blooper reels is Johnny Depp's quick wit and improv, often spouting amusing one-liners after each outtake.

Disc 2 is where the rest of the features, all exclusive to the Limited Edition, lie. These start with "Keith and the Captain: On Set with Johnny and the Rock Legend" (4:41). This featurette showcases Rolling Stones guitarist and Jack Sparrow inspiration Keith Richards and his cameo in this film. It's not a very informative piece due to all the praise lavished on Richards, but it's an entertaining one, nonetheless.

For something more substantial, we find "Anatomy of a Scene: The Maelstrom" (19:31). The major climax of the film (and the entire series) is analyzed and broken down phase by phase. Aspects such as the physical on-set effects as well as the CG elements are explained and shown through behind the scenes footage. It's a detailed look at all the work that went into this finale and is the standout feature of the disc.

The multiple Captain Jack Sparrow stand-ins relax on-set when they’re not filming or confusing people’s vision. Pintel (Lee Arenberg) does not take kindly to Ragetti's (Mackenzie Crook) love of riddles in this deleted scene. Speaking in his native tongue, Chow Yun-Fat cheerily recounts his experience working on this film.

"The Tale of Many Jacks" (4:49) examines the surreal visit to Davy Jones' locker and Jack's hallucinations. Footage is shown of Depp acting against nothing as well as interacting with stand-ins. It's a bit briefer than one would like, but it provides a decent look at how so many Jacks filled the screen at once.

Two deleted scenes not originally listed on the press release are found within their own submenu: "I Like Riddles" (0:56) and "Two Captains, One Ship" (1:30). Both offer mild amusement but reiterate points already made in the finished film. Each comes with commentary by director Gore Verbinski, who sounds like he's reading a script but still gives good explanations as to why they were cut.

"The World of Chow Yun-Fat" (4:14) is very similar to the Keith Richards piece, only the cast and crew discuss working with Chinese actor Chow Yun-Fat. Footage is shown of him on the set horsing around. Though pretty glossy, it's still good-natured.

Hans Zimmer explains in detail the significance of his epic score for "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End." Director Gore Verbinski and designer James Byrkit go over one of the preliminary versions of Sao Feng’s map. This piece of concept art illustrates the desired mood for the film's early Singapore sequence.

"The Pirate Maestro: The Music of Hans Zimmer" (10:31) offers a sit-down interview with the composer interspersed with recording session footage. It is surprisingly detailed as Zimmer explains his intentions behind certain musical cues and how they affect the storytelling. This is one of the deeper supplements on this set.

Under the heading of "Masters of Design" are five isolated featurettes: "James Byrkit: Sao Feng’s Map" (6:19), "Crash McCreery: The Cursed Crew" (5:24), "Rick Heinrichs: Singapore" (5:13), "Penny Rose: Teague’s Costume" (3:37)", and "Kris Peck: The Code Book" (5:20). Each follows the same format: a one-on-one interview with the titular crew member in question coupled with on-set footage.
All of them explain the the meanings behind the designs, rejected ideas, the actual creation of the props, and how they're used in the film. They all pack in good anecdotes in a short amount of time, though a "Play All" option would've been welcome.

"Hoist the Colours" (4:41) deals with the film's theme song. The genesis of the melody and lyrics is brought up, and Hans Zimmer explains the symbolic ties between the lyrics and the actual storyline of At World's End. Footage is also shown of the recording sessions for both the demos and final tracks. It's a good look at the thought process that went into creating the film's opening anthem.

"Inside the Brethren Court" starts off with an intro on the nine Pirate Lords and their purpose. Afterwards, a menu containing the nine pieces of eight is displayed. Selecting each piece takes one to a roughly one-minute profile of the Pirate Lord that piece pertains to. Covered here are Captain Jack Sparrow, Captain Barbossa, Captain Sao Feng, Mistress Ching, Capitaine Chevalle, Captain Villanueva, Gentleman Jocard, Ammand the Corsair, Sri Sumbhajee, and Elizabeth Swann. It's not clear if the mini biographies given are canon from the minds of writers Ted Elliot and Terry Russio or if they were fabricated for the DVD. Either way, they're a fun look at characters we barely get acquainted with in the film.

While most of the material here is well-rounded and enlightening, it's a far cry from the treatment the previous two films received on DVD. The biggest shock is the lack of audio commentary. After making a cryptic appearance on the press release (and only for the single-disc release, at that) the commentary failed to appear on any edition. Buena Vista Home Entertainment UK revealed that not one but two commentaries were planned: one with director Gore Verbinski and actor Johnny Depp, and another with actor Geoffrey Rush. Neither appeared on Region 2's sets, either. On top of that, there's no general "making of" documentary, no galleries, and no trailers. Two staples of the previous film DVDs (Jerry Bruckheimer's photo diaries and "Fly on the Set" B-roll footage) fail to appear here as well. The bonus material on Curse of the Black Pearl and Dead Man's Chest amounted to over three hours each. At World's End just barely passes the 90-minute mark, and that's with the help of easter eggs. While two brief deleted scenes are shown, more footage exists as indicated by interviews with the crew as well as promotional stills. That they are absent on this DVD (along with other bonus material) smells of an inevitable extended edition re-release. This is further indicated by the booklet contained with the DVD that lists this Limited Edition as going out of print on September 30, 2008. While a re-release of this and the rest of the trilogy is far from surprising, what is surprising is how much it's blatantly affected this release.


As with the first two films, At World's End features several easter eggs. Disc 2's main menu features clips on drummer Simon Phillip's participation in the score (2:08) and Johnny Depp's struggles trying to grab a peanut with his fork (2:06). The "Deleted Scenes" submenu contains a list of the winners of the Ultimate Pirates of the Caribbean Fan Event and a featurette about actor Martin Klebba's custom-made car and motorcycle (1:04). An animatic for the waterfall sequence (2:49) can be found on the second page of the main menu. Finally, the "Masters of Design" submenu features eggs about the filming of Davy Jones' Locker (2:37) and a time lapse reel of the Singapore set construction (1:12).

The visually busy and animated main menu of Disc One. Disc 2's menus feature a looped live-action background that affects the bonus material listing in a subtle way.


The menus of Disc 1 are designed after Sao Feng's navigational charts, with animated transitions after each menu selection. Disc 2's menus are all themed to Davy Jones' locker and feature minimal animation,
though this is occasionally used to clever effect as in the "Masters of Design" submenu. All selection screens are accompanied by excerpts of the film's score and, like all of the bonus material, are 16x9-enhanced.

The two discs are housed in a black dual Amaray keepcase, which as has long been the norm, is housed in cardboard slipcover. The slipcover replicates the sleeve artwork with a rough spiral texture along with embossment and shine. Inside, an eight-sided booklet lists the chapters and highlights the bonus materials. It also features a page of frequently asked questions about the film's storyline along with answers. Some of the answers are coy and indicate prequel possibilities, but most shed light in ways the film fails to. Also included are two small promotional booklets: one advertising various Pirates memorabilia and the other holding coupons for somewhat random products such as chunky salsa.

Disc 1 opens with a well-made promo advertising the Disney studio's vast library on DVD followed by previews for 101 Dalmatians: Platinum Edition, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, High School Musical 2: Extended Edition, and Underdog. All these can be found in the "Sneak Peeks" menu along with previews for The Game Plan, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, and the first two Pirates films on Blu-Ray.

Davy Jones dares you to have seafood after viewing this film. Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth share a moment in the most unorthodox of romantic scenarios.


Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is far from perfect mostly thanks to a bunny trail-ridden story path, but there's still plenty of entertainment and quality to be found. The DVD features outstanding video and audio but is disappointing when it comes to supplements. The 2-Disc Limited Edition earns a recommendation to those who love the film and bonus material and can't wait for a re-release. For those who have yet to see the film and/or don't care for supplements, the single-disc edition is probably the best option and should save you more than the $5 list price difference.

More on this DVD / Buy from Amazon: 2-Disc Limited Edition DVDSingle-Disc DVDBlu-ray Disc

Pirates of the Caribbean: Action Figures

Related Interviews:
Online Press Junket with Gore Verbinski, the director of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy
UD's Interview with Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio, the writers of Pirates of the Caribbean

Related Reviews:
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - Soundtrack CD (score by Hans Zimmer) • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - 3-Disc Gift Set2-Disc Collector's Edition

Summer of 2007 Films:
Shrek the ThirdRatatouilleKnocked Up: Extended & UnratedEvan AlmightyFantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Superbad: 2-Disc Unrated Extended EditionOcean's ThirteenRush Hour 3

Jack Sparrow Costumes

Pete's DragonEscape to Witch MountainThe Haunted MansionFinding NeverlandAladdin
Finding NemoThe Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The WardrobeThe Incredibles
Bridge to Terabithia20,000 Leagues Under the SeaSwiss Family RobinsonTaleSpin: Volume 2
High School Musical: RemixPeter Pan: Platinum EditionReturn to Neverland: Pixie-Powered Edition
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape ClauseThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyGlory Road

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer:
National TreasureKing Arthur: Director's CutEnemy of the State: Unrated Extended Edition
Crimson Tide: Unrated Extended EditionCon Air: Unrated Extended EditionRemember the Titans: Director's Cut

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Pirates of the Caribbean on DVD: The Curse of the Black Pearl - 2-Disc CE3-Disc Gift Set / Dead Man's Chest / At World's End

Reviewed November 29, 2007.