|Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Tuesday, 01 January 2008|
The pirate adventure continues in the third film of this, as of now, trilogy. "At World's End" bests "Dead Man's Chest", but falls short of living up to "Curse of the Black Pearl" or the lore of Pirates of the Caribbean.
"At World's End" opens with a shot of a noose and the mass genocide of apparent pirate co-conspirators. Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander) seeks to take over the seas and control all trade across the high seas. After capturing the heart, literally, of Davy Jones, courtesy of James Norrington (Jack Davenport), Beckett is able to take command of the Flying Dutchman vessel and its crew, including Davy Jones (Bill Nighy).
"At World's End" resumes where "Dead Man's Chest" left off in regards to the status of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Last we saw, our more than eccentric hero is lost to the way of Davy Jones' locker. With the return of Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and the almighty seer of the swamp, Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris), the crew of the now sunken Black Pearl set out to rescue Jack. First, the crew must find a new ship, so they turn to Singapore's pirate lord, Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat). After a brief battle between no less than three different sides, Captain Barbossa and Miss Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) are given a ship to sail to the World's End.
Meanwhile, a despaired Jack Sparrow is seemingly doomed to be the captain of the Black Pearl for eternity. The catch is, that the Black Pearl is stuck out in the middle of a desert on solid rock. Through a miraculous turn of events, and a scene that you must see to believe, the Black Pearl makes its way from the desert to the ocean, where his crew has come to rescue him.
This is where the doldrums of the film set in. The cast bounces from set to set and characters flip flop sides and ships, all to end up in the same place for a final showdown. With a running time of 2 hours and 48 minutes, it is difficult to imagine this film being an attention grabber all the way through. In fact, taking about 10 minutes from about 25 minutes in to the film, and about the last 45 minutes of the film would have sufficed to tell this segment of the trilogy. Still, for a Pirate-loving fan, one can find some other interesting tidbits along the way. Meeting Jack Sparrow's father (Keith Richards) was a treat (however brief it may have been).
This film lacked the strange but comical wit of Captain Jack Sparrow that was ever present in the first film. The wit was there, but only to a very small degree. It was even less than that present in the second movie. It was the absence of this humor that made the film feel like it drug on and on.
The video quality of the first two films was outstanding. With the third film being shot at the same time as the second, one would expect nothing less for the video presentation of the "At World's End". Sadly, this is not the case. While I would recommend the first two films as video demo reference material, "At World's End" falls short. The black levels are a bit crushed. The details lost in the deep black scenes are more than noticeable. This is problematic for the film as dark scenes are its most popular. There is also a fair amount of grain present in the bright scenes that take place in the desert. On the plus side, there is no evidence of motion artifacts or macroblocking in the fluid motion of the water sequences. The colors are not bold, but they are accurate. While still a decent image, it is not the best I have seen on Blu-ray.
The audio quality however, is outstanding. The dynamic range is vast, which may be problematic for those of you who live in an apartment complex, as the volume level changes drastically between quite dialogue scenes and loud sudden explosions. The film makes great use of the surround channels, although I thought there was room for some more discreet sound effects placement in the rear channels. The bass is nice and tight, although the torrential rainstorm and sea waves sequences lacked some punch.
The special features are presented on two discs in this collection. The first disc only contains the feature and a blooper reel. The bloopers are in 1080i, but lack any real funny sequences. This was a real let down as I expected there to be a great deal of humorous Johnny Depp moments. On a side note, the back of the box states that the feature is presented in 1080i. I believe this to be a typo as everything else in print claims the film to be presented in 1080p. (NOTE: Disney has confirmed the "1080i" typo on the back of the box.) On another side note, the menus on the first disc were atrocious. None of the text was viewable on my screen. Even sticking my face right up to the screen I could not read the text. I had to guess at what was highlighted and just hit enter. It seems like there was a menu layer missing between the text and the menu's background. At least on my player, a Samsung BD-P1400, the menus did not function correctly. This may just be an incompatibility between the disc and the player that will require a firmware upgrade, or the menu goof was an egregious oversight in quality control.
The second disc is where the bulk of the extra goodies lie. There are seven featurettes. In what is a pretty common feature for action/adventure films, "Anatomy of a Scene: The Maelstrom" provides in-depth details about the editing and visual effects of the storm sequence. "Masters of Design" covers, in five parts, different aspects of the film's production design, from set design to costumes. "The Tale of the Many Jack" takes you on a tour of the multiple Jack Sparrow CGI creations. "The World of Chow Yun Fat" is a tribute to the self-titled actor. "Keith & the Captain: On Set with Johnny and the Rock Legend" is a brief feature on Keith Richard's role as Jack's father. "The Pirate Maestro: The Music of Hans Zimmer" gives the composer and crew a chance to speak about the music score of the film. And finally, "Hoist the Colors" is an expansion of the music score featurette, specifically focusing on the opening song. The final two special features, presented in 1080i but not exclusive to the Blu-ray format, are two deleted scenes and a collection of Disney theatrical trailers.
Exclusive to the high-definition Blu-ray disc are a couple of special features. First, there is a short featurette called "Inside the Maelstrom". This feature shows a time-elapsed view of the building of the giant set. There is also an interactive part to this feature, which allows you to watch documentaries about other aspects of the sequence, for example visual effects and audio. The other exclusive Blu-ray feature is the standard Movie Showcase, which provides instant access to the film's most demo worthy video/audio sequences.
While not a favorite film of mine, or absolutely stunning in video detail, "At World's End" does deserve a place in your collection. The story is legendary, and this third film does get the original storylines back on track. If for nothing else, this film should be in your collection for the stunning, last 45 minutes of the film. It will blow your home theater system away.