Given the immense success of the first film in 2003, the inevitable Pirates of the Caribbean sequel received an $80 million boost to its budget. The film definitely looks the part. Both immense in scale and fun, Dead Man’s Chest is easily on par with, if not better than, its predecessor.
Johnny Depp owns his character, a sly pirate named Jack Sparrow. Everything about his performance makes him a perfect centerpiece for the film. The witty dialogue is only the start. His mannerisms and facial expressions cannot be matched by any other actor in Hollywood.
The misadventures of Sparrow, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), and Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley) create an immeasurable sense of chemistry on screen. At two and half hours, a few trims could have been made in spots, though not a single scene can be considered wasted. A far better pace keeps the story flowing more than character development. As a direct sequel, the established cast needs little introduction.
That leaves plenty of time for what is quickly becoming a trademark for director Gore Verbinski — grand scale entertainment. The story leads to innovative and exciting action sequences, including a swordfight on a spinning wheel that is unforgettable. The imagination used to present this treasure quest is unbelievable.
Special effects are as good as they can be. Bill Nighy plays Davy Jones, and thanks to a brilliant performance and assistance from the no expense spared effects, his character comes to life in flawless fashion. The immense Kraken takes center stage as well, leading to even more exhausting excitement as crews battle the gargantuan beast via any means possible.
Other less-noticeable touches deserve credit as well. The set dressings are a definite cut above. Davy Jones' ship contains tiny details everywhere, from seaweed hanging off its bows, broken boards, to tattered sails. It’s impossible to catch all of these fine additions on only one view. This is a movie that practically requires a second play in the DVD player, and that’s as much for its entertainment value as for its attention to detail.
The ending sets up for a quick third and possibly final installment later this year. It ends on a surprise note, wrapping up an adventure film that meets every expectation. This series will become a classic, and Dead Man’s Chest is certainly deserving of that moniker.
Dead Man’s Chest is an amazing DVD. Detail is well beyond what any disc in the format should be able to produce. It helps you appreciate the finer points of the sets at home just as easily as you would in the theater. This is a flawless disc, suffering from none of the typical pitfalls associated with DVD.
Audio is likewise booming, also becoming reference material. The active sound field creates an immersive atmosphere, and it’s hard to go wrong when a movie fires this many cannons. The rear speakers take on plenty of the work, while the stereo channels keep movement constant.
This single disc edition of the movies offers only two extras, aside from a stack of Disney related trailers. Around four minutes of bloopers contain some laughs and a dual commentary from the writers discusses script changes compared to their initial draft.
Audiences won’t have much a wait for the next chapter. Everyone returns in 2007 for the third entry. With a crew and cast like that, there’s hardly any way for the project to falter. Also, a final kudos to Disney for releasing the film ONLY in a proper 2.35:1 widescreen edition.