With a mournful chorus of "Yo Ho…," the third Pirates of the Caribbean begins. For almost three hours, director Gore Verbinski does his best to top the other two rides he created from the actual Disneyland ride, and by now, thankfully, he lets his work speak for itself.
Disney's two-disc special edition of At World's End does, too. Though the previous two films' home releases piled on the commentaries, the first disc presents the film alone, with an extra of a blooper reel. Perhaps after filming two epics back to back, everyone just wanted to go away for a while.
After two comprehensive releases, too, Disney is out of material to talk about the project's development; we've already seen behind the scenes at the park ride and the adding of Jack Sparrow. (Ironically, this film lifts the most material directly and awkwardly out of the experience.) If you're looking for extras, the studio tries very hard to provide. There's just not much left.
Oh, they try to spin out the history of the Pirate Lords. Whether actual historical figures or not, the disc does not say, but rather than create one featurette that might have delved deeply and comprehensively, each Lord gets his own quick narrated summary. Since a few got short shrift in the story itself, it makes for kind of fun noodling for ten minutes or so.
One Pirate Lord gets more, of course, because Sao Feng gets played by Hong Kong Cinema legend Chow Yun-Fat, in one of the greatest example of an actor transforming himself. Even though Chow gives his interview in Chinese, it's easy to tell how different he is from his role.
Johnny Depp rarely steps out of the Jack Sparrow persona in either featurette focusing on him. Maybe it was the presence of influence Keith Richards on the set, but it seems like in the extras, Depp was determined to out-Richards his idol.
Yet the awe felt for Richards reverberates throughout the second disc. In addition to a side-by-side conversation with Depp and Richards, he pops up in features about costuming and creating the Pirate Codex. Forget about Bill Nighy's great work; forget about Chow Yun-Fat; everybody wants to have some little story about working with Keef.
That includes Gore Verbinski, who otherwise stays off-camera and allows a lot of respect to be paid to the other craftsmen who helped illuminate his vision. Filming the great maelstrom sequence makes for a worthy extra, focusing on the fight choreographer and the technicians that had to build and move a pirate ship on dry land. You might also weep for the props crew and how much detail they went into - almost completely lost to the average film viewer and Keith Richards - on the Pirate Codex.
Only two deleted scenes appear on the disc. That just goes to feed the dismissive belief that Verbinski left too much in the final cut of the film in the first place. That we cannot judge. So much of At World's End works that it's hard to blame him. Somewhere out there, people totally rooted for Orlando Bloom. So what if we didn't?
My only concern with the relative sparseness of this two-disc set is a belief that Disney will be pushing the really sumptuous bonus material onto Blu-Ray. For casual fans, this version of At World's End will be more than enough, but true Disneyaniacs will be left with that unsettling feeling that there has to be more.
And there does have to be - at least in the way of films, which the packaging gives clues toward. In the gatefold, a FAQ appears, derived from movie-goers' questions. Most of the answers end with the phrase "…a story that hasn't been told yet." Look forward, but spend a little time here at the end.
of the Caribbean - At World's End (Two-Disc Collector's
of the Caribbean - At World's End [Blu-ray]