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, and that’s as much for its entertainment value as for its attention to detail.
The ending sets up the eventual disappointment that was At Worlds End. Dead Man’s Chest 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.
The problem with transfers like Dead Man’s Chest is that it spoils Blu-ray fans. This is as top of the line as the format can be. Rich contrast creates depth rarely seen in live-action movies. The print is free of any imperfections. Details are staggering throughout. Sharpness couldn’t possibly be any better, and the colors are extraordinary. This rivals CG animated films such for dominance of the Blu-ray video quality competition.
Waves crash, cannons fire, and the kraken destroys a boat. How else could this possibly sound other than perfect? Uncompressed PCM delivers on all accounts. Bass can only be described as “epic,” delivering a low-level punch that will test the limits of your equipment. It doesn’t drown out the active, immersive surrounds which are constantly delivering something to the viewer. There is hardly a scene that isn’t reference quality, whether for all-out action or the lower, subtle touches put into the film.
A commentary track from the writers is featured on disc one, along with a mildly amusing interactive disc game. Charting the Return is the first piece on disc two, a 25-minute piece on the shoot and its beginnings. According to Plan features loads of behind-the-scenes footage during its hour long run.
Captain Jack: From Head to Toe is a set of interactive featurettes that let viewers select which part of Depp’s wardrobe they’d like to see an HD video piece on. Meet Davy Jones is a piece that deconstructs the special effects on Bill Nighy’s character for 12 minutes. Creating the Kraken follows the same path as the latter.
Dead Men Tell New Tales is a feature on the changes to the Disneyland attraction for 13 minutes. While obviously selling the audience on the ride, it’s intriguing to see the updates to fit the movie. Fly on the Set: The Bone Cage is a wonderful behind-the-scenes piece with the only audio being that taken directly from the set and it’s a shame it only lasts for around four minutes.
Jerry Bruckheimer provides a photo diary, Pirates on Main Street details the premiere, and a short blooper reel provides some laughs. Finally, three separate featurettes focus on the stunts and how the specific actors handled them.