Plot: What’s it about?
In case you’ve been locked up in a cave with your fingers in your ears, then you’ve no doubt heard of a little movie called “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”. Ring a bell, does it? The movie has become Disney’s top-grossing live action movie of all-time and it seems that audiences will never get enough of Johnny Depp’s half-drunken pirate. And how could we not? It’s a well-written story with plenty of action and adventure of three movies. Kids love it and there’s plenty of eye candy in Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley for just about anyone. And it boggles my mind, but this is yet another production by none other than Jerry Bruckheimer. The man is seriously unstoppable. I’m trying to rack my brain thinking how much this money this guy can be worth. He’s been behind nearly every hundred million dollar movie for the last twenty years. Truly he has the golden touch and is, as has been, one of the most powerful men in Hollywood for quite some time.
Ok, enough about that – what’s it all about? The movie wisely picks up where the original left off in that Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) are soon to be married. That is, of course, until they’re arrested for their antics saving Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in the last movie. Will is to be put to death unless he can retrieve Jack’s magic compass. Naturally Jack is out and about and has just found out that the master of the sea himself, Davy Jones, is making good on an old bet. Jones wants Jack’s soul to command in the afterlife but Sparrow isn’t going down without a fight. If Jack can get the Dead Man’s Chest, he’ll be able to command Jones and the horrible sea monster, the Kraken, and the tables will truly be turned. That should be easy to do, right? In between are pits and pratfalls, a million swords and cages made out of human bones. All in a day’s work for Capt. Jack Sparrow, right mate?
Really…who are we kidding here? This is one of the most fun, enjoyable movies of the last few years (possibly since the last “Pirates…” movie). Depp seems to have so much fun with his character that it really translates on screen as well. While Orlando Bloom and Keira Knghtley might seem a bit wooden by comparison, they’re great in their reprisals of Will and Elizabeth as well. The supporting cast does just fine as well and I have to admit that even I was a bit frightened by Davy Jones and the Kraken. This might be an issue for smaller children (or frightened DVD reviewers), but then again the movie topped out at over $400 million dollars in the United States alone. So I’d say that whatever they did, they’re probably figuring out how to do it yet again. Its safe the say that we’ll see another “Pirates…” movie unless Disney is no longer interested in making money. Unlike so many other summer blockbusters, this one actually delivers and is a pleasure to watch.
Video: How does it look?
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” comes to us in a nice-looking 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer that makes use of all the locales in the film. This is one of the more impressive-looking standard DVD titles I’ve seen in a while and what better title to showcase the glory of DVD? Colors are all over the place as the palette changes from scene to scene, the outdoor shots look gorgeous yet the indoor scenes could appear dank and murky, but instead looked very good as well. I didn’t see any signs of artifacting or edge enhancement in the least. A few of the scenes seemed a bit soft for my taste, but the movie is two and a half hours long and there’s only so much room on the disc. At any rate, viewers won’t be disappointed by how this looks on DVD – I certainly wasn’t.
Audio: How does it sound?
A very ambitious Dolby Digital 5.1 track is included and it sounds great. As you can imagine, there’s plenty of action going on and every speaker you have hooked up will get more than its fare share of a workout. Dialolgue is very warm and natural as well. The battle scenes sound amazing and I found the LFE to be almost constantly humming away. Naturally, there are more than a fair share of swordfights as well and the high-pitched clinging of the swords sounds about as realistic as it can be (though having never been in a swordfight I can only surmise a guss here). This is a big budget spectacle and we know that, if anything, it will at least sound good. And it does.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Though I’m sure that we’ll have at least one more version of this (I mean a 4 disc version of “The Chronicles of Narnia” did just come out), there’s plenty of booty on this two disc set. We start off with an audio commentary by screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio and the duo is fairly talkative throughout the film. Naturally there are some down points, but they seem to really get a kick out of Depp’s performance and the two have crafted a worthy sequel, for sure. The rest of the supplements are merely a series of featurettes, but they do contain some pretty good information. We start off with “Captain Jack: From Head to Toe” this is your basic behind the scenes featurette as we get interviews with Depp, Bloom and some of the other members of the cast. “Meet Davy Jones” shows us the oh-so scary Mr. Jones and gives us a bit of history into the man, myth and legend of “the sea’s ghostly ruler”. There’s a featurette on the sword fighting as we get some behind the scenes footage with Depp and Bloom and even some bloopers on the set as well. “Charting the Return” is more of a countdown to the movie than an actual pre-production diary, but these are interesting in that we see the movie take place from concept to completion. There’s an interesting feature called “Fly on the Set” in which we get a look at the “Bone Cage” and how they did that scene. No they weren’t really hanging 500 feet above the water; it was all done via a blue screen! Lastly, there are some looks at the plot of the movie and how they wanted it to differ from the original, the world premiere footage and some production diary photos with Jerry Bruckheimer. All in all, it doesn’t really matter what I say, this will undoubtedly be one of the biggest selling titles of the year regardless but this one is actually quite good. And enough supplements are included that your money is well-spent.