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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Album Cover Art
2007 Regular
2007 Set
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed and Co-Produced by:

Conducted by:
Blake Neely
Nick Glennie-Smith

Vocal Solos by:
Dolores Clay
Hila Plitmann
Brendyn Bell

Co-Produced by:
Bob Bodami
Melissa Muik

Additional Music by:
Lorne Balfe
Tom Gire
Nick Glennie-Smith
Henry Jackman
Atli Örvarsson
John Sponsler
Geoff Zanelli

Orchestrated by:
Walt Fowler
Elizabeth Finch
Ken Kugler
Suzette Moriarty
Steve Bartek
Labels Icon
Walt Disney Records
(May 22nd, 2007)

Walt Disney Records
(December 4th, 2007)
Availability Icon
Both 2007 albums are regular U.S. releases. The 2007 "Soundtrack Treasures Collection" initially retailed for $60 or more.
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if, once again, you have accepted Hans Zimmer's modern, trademark action style as viable for the swashbuckling genre and want to hear an intelligent merging of thematic ideas from all of the first three films in this franchise.

Avoid it... if you're simply tired of predictable, simplistic bombast with a synthetically enhanced bass in a genre it never matched in the first place.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 5/18/07, REVISED 7/20/11
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: (Hans Zimmer/Various) Sailing to the highest profits of any film in 2006 was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, the Jerry Bruckheimer camp's much anticipated sequel to the wildly popular 2003 adaptation of the famed Disneyland ride to the big screen. The filming of the third film in the franchise, At World's End, was completed in snapshot succession with the second entry, producing a heightened state of mania over the concept that the sequels for The Matrix once tried to capture as well. While during production there was no indication that a fourth film was in the works, hints of a continuation from Disney were almost immediate, and with profit potential that was too grand to ignore, it became inevitable that at least some of the same gang of lovable rogues would be traveling the globe once again in future adventures. The plot of the third film brings together elements spanning the previous two, compiling a host of conflicted characters for an epic journey to the ends of the earth. The number of characters and corresponding thematic fragments representing them were so plentiful in the franchise by this point that lead composer Hans Zimmer could just as well assign a character theme to each of his seven ghostwriters and have some concepts left over for his own ideas. That's the cynical approach to these Pirates of the Caribbean scores, of course, and despite those criticisms, credit has to be given to Zimmer for at least making a valiant attempt to take the franchise's music in the right direction with each entry. The score for The Curse of the Black Pearl was an understandable nightmare, a five-week replacement effort of synthetic nonsense and contractual problems that didn't even allow the composer to be credited with the mess. Meanwhile, Alan Silvestri, whose score for the film was rejected, was likely in a bar somewhere ordering a double shot of a potent beverage. For Dead Man's Chest, Zimmer had the time and resources to correct the ills of the first score, and while he attempted to broaden the stylistic horizons of the musical identity for the concept, the score ultimately suffered from the same lack of style and tact. In short, the sequel was a bastardized adaptation of ideas from The Peacemaker and The Rock into an inapplicable setting.

For Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Zimmer would try to make significant corrections to the constructs of his ideas for the franchise, expanding the scope of the music to include a far wider orchestral and choral palette. The ensemble performances and the final mix in the soundscape lean more on orchestra's role over the synthesizers', also utilizing a chorus and individual solo elements with a much-enhanced sense of worldly spirit. Unlike Dead Man's Chest, which relied on the "guilty pleasure" sensibilities of its veteran film music listeners to be satisfactory in parts, At World's End offers several cues of more intelligent ideas that may maintain the interest of listeners who consider themselves outside of the comfort zone of Zimmer's ardent fanbase. The orchestral instrumentation has been expanded to include, most surprisingly, a handful of woodwinds. Bruckheimer had personally refused to allow such "girly-men" instruments to be heard in his films to this point, but Zimmer apparently transcended that closed-mindedness and incorporates solos for oboe and flute, as well as roles for piccolo and bassoon. For the jaunty, playful portions of the score, Zimmer employs an accordion, mandolin, and dulcimer for additional color, and the use of both the harpsichord and erhu allows for a more rounded, cultured sound. A better emphasis on live percussion (as opposed to drum pads and synthetic sampling) is commendable, with good reverb in its mix. The use of voices is also particularly creative in At World's End, with the film opening to a source song that serves as the anthem for all pirates and one of the score's two major new themes. Solo female voices, occasionally operatic in their soprano tones, perform ghostly subthemes throughout the score, sometimes layered in ways that foreshadow On Stranger Tides. Zimmer's normal role for deep male chorus continues to be prevalent in At World's End, but he expands it to a fuller adult choral sound for an effect similar to The Da Vinci Code at times. The recording and mix of the music more often avoids the bass-heavy headaches of the previous two scores, with a cue like "Singapore" instead providing a far more dynamic range of mixed elements. Even a playful tribute to Ennio Morricone (a Zimmer favorite) is blatantly conveyed by guitar in "Parlay."

The number of themes that exists in the Pirates of the Caribbean series is so plentiful that jokes about ghostwriters are inevitable. But one aspect of At World's End that Zimmer has handled quite well is the integration of thematic ideas from the previous two scores with the new ideas in this one. As mentioned before, the "Hoist the Colours" source song that opens the film and album is expanded to full, easily digestible ensemble statements throughout the score. More likely the central identity of At World's End, however, is the love theme for the Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann characters. The interesting thing about this theme is that it seems that Zimmer and his associates at Remote Control couldn't decide on which of three ideas to make the primary one for the theme, leaving the score with three fragments of love-theme identity that are often stated separately and only a couple of times performed satisfactorily in succession. An "Edge of the World" subtheme is offered during the height of associated action cues, heard briefly but gloriously at the conclusions of "At Wit's End" and "Up is Down." The themes for Sao Feng and the East India Trading Company are both performed in full in "Singapore." The two Jack Sparrow themes from the previous films follow in succession in the same cue, making it a decent suite of sorts; his theme from the second film ultimately receives more air time on the album for At World's End. The Davy Jones theme is presented on music box in "At Wit's End" and by the full group in "I Don't Think Now is the Best Time." Some of Tia Dalma's identity carries over into the vocals of "Calypso," and Lord Beckett's material is reprised as well. Finally, no Pirates of the Caribbean score would be complete without the primary "He's a Pirate" theme from the first film, despite its catchy and arguably obnoxious and inappropriate tone for the genre. Its major appearances in At World's End are provided in "I Don't Think Now is the Best Time" and the shamelessly victorious "Drink Up Me Hearties." It's instantly recognizable, of course, because it seems that nearly every jazz and school band has attempted to perform it over the past three years. Being as over-exposed as it is, and given its nature to irritate with its alternating static and choppy staccato movements, the theme could be more of a detriment to the sequels than otherwise.

While Zimmer's music for At World's End reaches into a far more dynamic range of instrumentation and holds the power of the underlying synthetics to a slightly less distractingly problematic level of bombast, there still exist the challenges inherent with his basic approach to the genre. Zimmer is to the blockbuster films of the 2000's what the power ballad was to 1980's rock. His music is a distinct sub-genre within the world of film music, and his tendency to write overbearingly powerful and simplistic anthems for nearly anything remotely connected to the concepts of action and drama begs for criticism and skepticism when it's applied in unconventional ways. These new themes for At World's End are extremely predictable given Zimmer's past production, and their overly simple neo-classical chord progressions, squeezing every last drop of melodrama out of their super-harmonic movements, lack taste, style, and subtlety. Zimmer proved that these appeals to primordial aural pleasures can make for enjoyable listening experiences in an effort like King Arthur, though in the world of Pirates of the Caribbean, the same formula has never been able to convince many ardent and knowledgeable film score enthusiasts. The bass region continues to be abused, and although there isn't any noticeable distortion caused by this technique here, it's still a defining characteristic. The love theme's three ideas, additionally, are packaged into two powerful statements of anthem-like proportion at the ends of "One Day" and "Drink Up Me Hearties," taking the relatively delicate idea of a romance between two people and elevating its importance to the level of interstellar war. It makes for great listening on album, as it often has in its previous variants throughout Zimmer's career, but there is no style to that music. Only power. And there's only so much brute force that a score can pound you over the head with before you lose faith in its intelligence. The first two scores left you completely beaten by their in-your-face tactics, and At World's End suffers from that attitude in about half of its cues. Maybe Zimmer will never shake his habit of playing the role of Thor, God of Thunder whenever he tackles another action score, wielding that giant musical hammer on his listeners (and maybe wearing a helmet with horns... who knows?). His ghostwriters are Remote Control certainly do enough of that for him in any regard.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.02 Stars
***** 980 5 Stars
**** 1,124 4 Stars
*** 1,626 3 Stars
** 1,229 2 Stars
* 859 1 Stars
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Upon revisiting this score recently...
Hari Haran - November 8, 2016, at 5:32 a.m.
1 comment  (849 views)
FVSR Reviews Pirates 3
Brendan Cochran - September 12, 2016, at 7:36 p.m.
1 comment  (572 views)
Blinded by hatred
Vincent - July 13, 2015, at 4:49 a.m.
1 comment  (876 views)
Depths of my emotion cannot be contained for "At World's End" !!!
dwtjan - December 28, 2012, at 9:36 a.m.
1 comment  (1278 views)
Pretentious   Expand >>
Ben - May 21, 2011, at 10:56 p.m.
2 comments  (2287 views)
Newest: June 1, 2011, at 10:29 a.m. by
Dave Norlin
Which soundtrack did Zimmer copy from, for the Main Theme in all 3 movies?
Green Darner Dragonfly - August 27, 2010, at 1:05 a.m.
1 comment  (1423 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
2007 Regular Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 55:45
• 1. Hoist the Colours (1:31)
• 2. Singapore (3:40)
• 3. At Wit's End (8:05)
• 4. Multiple Jacks (3:51)
• 5. Up is Down (2:42)
• 6. I See Dead People in Boats (7:09)
• 7. The Brethren Court (2:21)
• 8. Parlay (2:10)
• 9. Calypso (3:02)
• 10. What Shall We Die For (2:02)
• 11. I Don't Think Now is the Best Time (10:45)
• 12. One Day (4:01)
• 13. Drink Up Me Hearties (4:31)
2007 Treasures Set Tracks   ▼Total Time: 47:22

Notes Icon
The insert of the regular album includes extensive credits and lengthy personal anecdotes from "digital instrument designer" Mark Wherry about the scoring process on the three films. The 2007 "Soundtrack Treasures Collection" contains extra notation about the music. Its DVD contents include "Making of a Score" (19:48), a general production overview of the scores, "The Man Behind the Pirates Music" (17:38), an interview with Zimmer alone with recording sessions footage, and "Hans Zimmer's Live Performance at Disneyland for the World Premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (8:37).
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