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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End [Two-Disc Collector's Edition] - action/adventure DVD review
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END [TWO-DISC COLLECTOR'S EDITION] rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 3 stars
Actors: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, Bill Nighy, Naomie Harris
Director: Gore Verbinski   Studio: Walt Disney
DVD release: 04 December 2007   Runtime: 165 minutes (2 discs)
Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Special Edition, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Subtitles (English, Spanish), Audio Tracks (English, Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish, Dolby Digital 5.1), Bloopers, Anatomy of a Scene: The Maelstrom, Keith & the Captain, Tale of the Many Jacks, Hoist the Colours, Masters of Design (Jim Byrkit - Sao Feng's Map; Crash McCreary - The Cursed Crew; Rick Heinrichs - Singapore; Penny Rose - Teague's Costume; Chris Peck - The Code Book), Inside the Brethren Court, The World of Chow Yun Fat, The Pirate Maestro: The Music of Hans Zimmer, Easter eggs

The farther along the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise goes, the thinner its logic stretches credulity and the more convoluted its plotlines grow - and the older its younger audiences must be. The swashbuckling mayhem in the third "Pirates" installment is more graphic, the menace more pronounced, the consequences for major characters more dire (the opening scene features a pre-adolescent boy being fitted for the noose - not something my kiddies could stomach). Nonetheless, At World's End delivers where it matters: breathtaking set pieces, dazzling special effects, and outrageously colorful characters (unsurprisingly, it's Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow carrying the show). Although the strained tension in the relationship between young lovers Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann seems a degree forced, Orlando Bloom's tortured looks and Keira Knightley's tomboyish defiance provide more than enough human eye candy for all.

Jack's former nemesis Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush, brilliant as always), Will and Elizabeth set sail for the edge of the map to rescue Captain Jack from eternal torment in Davy Jones' locker - his hallucinatory many-Jack'd and crab-haunted tenure their is really alone worth the price of the DVD. They risk the trip not out of sheer good will; Jack is the ninth of the pirate lords needed to call a full Brethren Court and conduct the ritual that will free the sea goddess Calypso from her human form (Naomie Harris as voodoo priestess Tia Dalma) to aid in a last desperate struggle against the determined drive for their permanent extinction by Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) and the East India Trading Company.

Compounding the difficulties is Beckett's alliance - thanks to his possession of a certain heart in a dead man's chest - with Davy Jones himself (played with palpable malice by Bill Nighy, underneath a lot of impressively prehensile facial tentacles). It is the eternal debt Will's father, Bootstrap Turner (Stellan Skarsgård), owes Jones that drives Will to betray the Brethren Court, further driving a wedge between him and Elizabeth and setting up the story's shocking climax.

The film's opening sequence of mass executions by hanging of pirates - or those who have aided, abetted, or associated with same - sets the dark tenor of this "Pirates." The second scene in Singapore, as Barbossa and company aim to beg, borrow and steal a ship and world's-end charts from the notorious pirate lord Sao Feng (in a cameo of carefully controlled violence and decadent grandeur by Chow Yun-Fat), manages to be funny, creepy, and explosive all at once. Another appearance worthy of note: Keith Richards as Captain Teague, keeper of the Pirate Codex and Captain Jack's father. Depp's cringing obeisance toward the legendary axe-man is highly entertaining.

The two-disc collector's edition of At World's End is loaded with extras: an all-new short film ("Tales of the Code: Wedlocked"), an anatomy of the climactic "Maelstrom" scene, "Keith and the Captain," and a dozen or so more. This might not be the best or the most family-friendly entry in the franchise, but it more than earns its place in a "Pirates"-lover's DVD library.
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reviewed by Sharon Schulz-Elsing
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