“It’s a two hour advertisement for a theme
park,” laughs director Gore Verbinski in his audio commentary
on the “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black
Pearl” DVD. Though Disney might seem self-serving in its
adaptation of the animatronic water ride, the result is a clever
plot that finally narrates the Disneyland attraction.

Mira Levitan
Wow, Keith Richards looks great! (Courtesy of Dimension)

With swashbuckling and sword fights galore, Captain Jack Sparrow
(Johnny Depp) leads Will Turner (Orlando Bloom, “The Lord of
the Rings”) through the Caribbean in search of his love,
Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley, “Bend it Like
Beckham”), who has been kidnapped by a band of cursed
pirates. Also starring Geoffrey Rush (Captain Barbossa), the cast
is an impressive ensemble, but it is Depp’s witty, drunken
pirate that carries the film.

While amazing surround sound and crisp picture make
“Pirates of the Caribbean” a thrilling adventure to
watch, the DVD special features are just as entertaining. Since
everyone has something to say about the film, audio commentaries
are presented by Verbinski, Depp, Knightley, co-star Jack
Davenport, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and several of the
film’s screenwriters. Most of the narrations are boringly
typical, but the lively storytelling of Knightley and Davenport
shouldn’t be missed. Knightley’s enthusiasm is
hilarious and informative, although she often upstages
Davenport’s subtle humor.

The second disc is a treasure chest of behind-the-scenes footage
detailing everything from make-up to the unique movie premiere.
Also included are 19 deleted scenes, an amusing blooper reel and
“fly on the set” footage, which shows several days of
filming. “Diary of a Pirate” is a must see for a
glimpse into life both on and off the set. Narrated by Lee Arenberg
(Pintel), this home video takes audiences further behind the scenes
than any fabricated documentary.

One of the most interesting features is an episode of
“Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” from
1968. The 30-minute program showcases Walt Disney himself as he
talks about the plans for the ride “Pirates of the
Caribbean” and details the making of the attraction.
Surprisingly, the program features extensive footage from inside
the ride (a peculiarity for the normally secretive Disney
Corp.).

“Below Deck” is the driest of the features, offering
history facts about pirates from a maritime historian. Luckily, an
interactive computer-animated menu makes the educational experience
more appealing.

After the DVD player is exhausted, both discs provide enhanced
computer features. On disc one, the film can be watched alongside
either the script or storyboards while disc two offers more
background information on the attraction and a virtual tour for
those who have not been to Disneyland before. However, these
features are only accessible with DVD-Rom drives and will not work
on Macs.

Unlike most DVDs, filled with extras that repeat information or
bore audiences, “Pirates of the Caribbean” offers a
variety of features to entertain and amuse everyone. High-sea
adventures with Hollywood magic revealed, Disney proves that its
amusement park attractions can become more than we ever
imagined.

 

Movie: 4 stars.

Picture/Sound: 5 stars.

Features: 5 stars.

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