Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest DVD: Review By Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

A nicely put together release that tells you everything you could want to know about this film.
  • OVERALL
    4.5
    SUPERB
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
A nicely put together release that tells you everything you could want to know about this film.
THE BAD
No commentary from the the stars.
THE FEATURE
Captain Jack Sparrow is back in the interesting (if sometimes a little long) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. The Captain owes his soul to Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and his crew, and these guys are intent on him making good. Coming to his aid (against their will) are Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightly), who have their own issues to work out. Will has got to reconcile his relationship with his father and Knightly seems intent on utilizing Captain Jack's advances for her own gain. Along the way there are plenty of adventures, action scenes and special effects. The standouts being the Davy Jones character and the Kraken (a sea dwelling beast that Jones and his crew summon). Davy Jones looks so real it is scary and his look takes CGI to another level entirely. The Kraken is also an amazing CGI creation, and were it not so big and lumbering would also have it's own moments to stand out more intricately.

All in all, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is a pretty strong sequel. The characters are rich and strongly written, and the movie, though layered with effects, never seems to rest solely on them.
THE EXTRAS
Screenwriter Audio Commentary

Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio do the duties here and it is actually quite refreshing. Considering that this franchise is really their brainchild (with a little prodding from the studio no doubt), I liked that these guys got to put their auditory stamp on this film. They discuss playing with the narrative, not answering all the questions the script poses, and deepening the characters in this second installment. Never filled with hubris, the more I listened to these guys the more this film reminded me of The Godfather: Part II.

Bloopers of the Caribbean

Featurettes

Since four of the featurettes covered somewhat similar ground, I decided that I would group them all together here for the purposes of this review. They are a "Behind-the-Scenes Doc*mentary," a "Captain Jack" featurette, a "Sword-Fighting" Featurette, and, most interesting of all a "Creating the Kraken" piece. I could go through all of these individually but I think their names tell you all you need to know.

The stand outs for me where the "Captain Jack" and the "Creating the Kraken" featurettes. It was cool getting to hear Johnny Depp talk about the character, and something tells me that he is going to be even more interesting in the third installment, Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End. As for Creating the Kraken," if this featurette doesn't pique your interest, your filmic senses are deadened or you probably shouldn't be watching this film anyway. We get the see how the beast was created, how it was conceptualized, and eventually how it went from being something separate in the computer, to merging with the final film.

Star-Studded, Red-Carpet Hollywood Premiere Footage

Nothing too special about the footage here but having reviewed so many old movies (where they show us these kinds of things in their black and white Movietone News Segments), I guess having this segment on here is karmically appropriate. This is a huge, Hollywood film so it makes sense that this premiere event would garner this kind of coverage. While the actors, producers and other creative types might not say anything that special, I think this featurette should satisfy those that can't get enough of these celebrities.

"Imagineered" Pirates of the Caribbean Resort Attraction

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer's Personal On-Set Photo Diary

Okay, Jerry Bruckheimer may or may not have taken these pictures but for the sake of this DVD, I am going to say that he did. While I wasn't blown away, and I don't think he should quit his day job, you have to admit that he is going to get a certain amount of access that other people won't. That said, you're not going to get many revealing pictures but what he has given you is more than adequate.
THE VIDEO
Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1. This movie looked awesome on DVD. I know that I didn't get to screen the film in one of the next generation formats, but even on my small TV this thing played really nicely. The DVD compression has made the images so rich, I honestly thought I saw some of the things in my home viewing, clearer than when I saw the film in the theater. Considering the length of this movie, the fact that there were no noticeable flaws, really makes you think Disney has this DVD thing licked.
THE AUDIO
English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1. This film is subtitled in Spanish and French. Sadly, I don't think I was meant to screen this film on my one speaker TV. I really think I could have maxed out this discs possibilities if I had been able to screen it on a surround sound system. As it was, I heard everything fine but I remember when I saw this movie theatrically, I felt I was legitimately sucked into this world. I wasn't beaten over the head with the audio design, I was slowly but surely brought into this movie's world via the audio and the images.
THE PACKAGE
Looking almost identical to the front cover of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, we get Depp, Bloom, and Knightly in that order. Below them are shots of Davy Jones and ships at sea on this holographic packaging. The back features some shots from the film (showing off the CGI creations), a description, a Special Features listing, a cast list and system specs. All in all, one might think this should be a three disc set or that it needs more bells and whistles (that will surely come at some point), but for now this release gets things just right.
THE FINAL WORD
I was blown away when I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest in the movie theater. In fact, when BB and I walked out of the theater he remarked that this film was the best looking CGI he'd "ever seen." I agreed but was also amazed at the storytelling. When you consider that this is a brand new 21st Century story, I think it knocks the whole remake and comic book only theory on it's ear. However, what is the film if not a big budget extravaganza, that falls neatly in with all the other action laden effects pieces around today? This isn't a flaw so much as an observation. My only real complaint with the film was that I felt the scene on the beach, where Captain Jack and Will Turner are sword fighting while Elizabeth is having a meltdown, could have been cut down considerably. Aside from that editing misstep, this movie plays very well as both a sequel and a stand alone story.

All in all, the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest DVD does not disappoint.

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