"Gentlemen, I wash my hands of this weirdness". – Captain Jack Sparrow
Oh, Pirates. How you disappointed me.
This was one DVD set I was really looking forward to reviewing. The original movie release received two contrasting reviews here on RevSF, both of which covered the salient points of the movie's plot and character arcs, so I won't bother to repeat them here.
Let's just say that when I came out of the theater back in May, my opinion of the movie was close to Mark Finn's, but having watched it again on the TV screen, my feelings have definitely swung more towards Navin Vembar's. In short, what looked great and spectacular on the big screen fails to excite on the TV screen, even a large plasma one.
The reduced size served to expose various story telling flaws, corny dialog and lackluster acting. It simply failed to engage me on the same level. Yes, it is still one of the best "three-quels" of any franchise and does a remarkable job of wrapping up plot lines, but the DVD just seems to emphasize director Gore Verbinski's "bigger and louder is better" style-over-substance approach.
The DVD itself also suffers from the same style-over-substance problem. The menus are very cleverly designed and evoke and reference various key scenes and visuals from the movie, such as Jack on the salt flats, or the crucial circular map, but the content behind them is again something of a disappointment.
Actually the major disappointments are the total absence of a commentary track and a collection of movie trailers. At one time these two things were the staple of any DVD collection, but seem to have become something of a rarity these days, being replaced by the vacuous "on set featurettes" that add nothing to the understanding of the creative decisions.
Having said that there is some commentary from director Verbinski on the two deleted scenes (only two!) which only served to emphasize the lack of talk track on the main feature itself.
While the main disc contains smile-inducing bloopers montage, most of the special features, such as the aforementioned deleted scenes, are on a separate disc. It leads off with "Keith & The Captain," a behind the scenes look at Keith Richards on set filming his cameo role, which does little other than to emphasize that most of the crew seemed to turn into fawning fanboys around him.
In fact if I got one thing from all the various mini-documentaries, all seven of them, it was that they were essentially pointless and just emphasized that the underlying theme of the production being focused on making it big and loud.
Just to take one example the "Anatomy Of A Scene: The Maelstrom" feature is constantly sprinkled with references to things being "the biggest ever . . . " or "the most (insert item) ever used on any movie . . . "
I found one "easter egg" but it was hardly worth the hunt, as all it revealed was a poorly edited sequence of the filming of the stone crab sequence on the Bonneville salt flats. I'm sure with the abundance of material that must have been available they could have come up with something special for the DVD.
The only special feature I enjoyed was the only character driven one, "Inside The Brethern Court," an interactive menu menu that lets you roam around an image of the nine "pieces of eight." Each time you select one of the pieces it launches a short mini-biography on the relevant pirate lord giving their back story and why that "piece of eight" is significant. It was the only section that added to the experience of watching the movie again.