Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Buena Vista Home Ent., $29.99

The plot is as gloriously overstuffed with shiny, illogical gewgaws as Capt. Jack Sparrow's dreadlocks, Keira Knightley is a dimpled lightweight, and Orlando Bloom? I could carve a more substantial man out of a banana. Even so, Pirates (on DVD Nov. 2) is pure delight—and not exclusively thanks to Johnny Depp's Oscar-nominated rock-out performance as Jack, about the most roguishly beguiling pirate who ever ruled the waves and staggered in the aleatoric footsteps of Keith Richards (his model for the character, with a possible role in the sequel). Every scurvy crewman gets rich bits of character- establishing business, and bad-guy pirate Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) incredibly manages to upstage the cunning bad-guy monkey capering on his shoulder ("The smartest person in the film," says Rush, magnanimously, among the DVD bonus material). The Caribbean set is brilliant, the action scenes are pyrotechnically swashbuckling, the pratfalls terpsichorean, the gags good and plenty. On DVD, it looks like a pearl of great price.

But you knew that. What you want to know is, are the DVD extras worth the doubloons? Arrgh, heartily, matey! They're a very three-disc treasure chest worth a keelhauling to own. Besides scads of commentaries and interviews, there are features on Depp, Rush, and Barbossa's monkeys; the entire life and explosive death of the ship Interceptor (a quarter-scale replica of the Lady Washington of Port Townsend); and multiple "Fly on the Set" featurettes. That's in addition to the enclosed two-disc 2003 Pirates DVD's great stuff: a making-of doc; Walt Disney's original feature on the Disneyland Pirates ride; and a computer nerd's paradise of technical explications. The 19 deleted scenes are of interest strictly to hard-core scholars, and the unfunny blooper reel of use to no one. My favorite bit: the interactive, click-and-learn history of real pirates—a buried treasure worth unearthing.

OUT NOV. 30 for further gift giving, Zhang Yimou's Hero will whet appetites for House of Flying Daggers (due at Christmastime); the director's cut of Daredevil won't be of much help to Ben Affleck's sagging career; and the religious biopic Luther was deservedly crushed at the box office by The Passion of the Christ. Harry Jaglom's 1990 Eating puts a cherry on the cake of Super Size Me. A real treat is the reissue of several old action-fantasy pictures featuring the work of pioneering stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen; two box sets include Jason and the Argonauts among nine other titles.



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