Part three of the Pirates “franchise” is a wild and vivid roller-coaster ride, crammed with spectacular visualizations and characters, lushly realized; everything from 18th century Singapore to the ends of the earth and all that in between – pirate lords and kings, a mysterious and powerful sea goddess, a weird purgatorial realm of sand and little crabs, a mad fight around the edge of a horrific whirlpool, and the captain of a ghost ship with a beard of tentacles… There is so much sheer spectacle there on the screen that the plot seems rather superfluous and so many characters that any half-dozen grabbed at random could probably carry a whole adventure movie of their own. The plot, such as it is, has to do with a showdown between the East India Trading Company and an alliance of various pirate lords in a fight for the right to carry on with the colorful freebooting piratical sort of life. Think of the Pirate brethren as a kind of UN of scurvy scum of the seas. Oh, and Captain Jack Sparrow and his ship, the Black Pearl needs to be rescued from the limbo of Davy Jones locker, with the aid of an intricate Chinese map and the best efforts of a collection of his worst friends and intimate enemies.

As I said, there is a plot, but mostly it is secondary to the spectacle, the set-piece tableaus and the gallery of characters; who ever would have thought that three movies could have been milked from an amusement park ride?

Extras in this 2-disc set are lavish, well beyond the customary bloopers and omitted scenes. Most notable are a pair of short features focusing on the brief appearances of Keith Richards as the Pirate King, and of Chow Yun-Fat as the pirate lord of Singapore, a. There is long feature about how the climactic scene, the battle on the edge of the maelstrom was filmed, and the hilarious sequence of multiple Captain Jacks – which involved a large collection of extras who looked very much like Johnny Depp. Other features showcase the work of various designers and offer a closer look at sets, costumes and props which in the movie went speeding past at highway-speed, the thumping music of composer Hans Zimmer, and a short interactive feature about the nine members of the Brethren Court. (And a short leaflet inside the CD package reveals answers to the top questions that movie-goers asked!)

Pirates of the Caribbean – At World’s End is available on December 4th, from Amazon.com and other retail outlets.

Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her current book “To Truckee’s Trail” is available here. More about her books is at her website www.celiahayes.com.

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