Picking up realtively right after the high of the The Curse of the Black Pearl film, Dead Man’s Chest is everything you’d expect in a sequel. But what Dead Man’s Chest does very well is provide interesting back story and character development. Specifically we find out more about how Jack became Captain as well as the story behind old Bootstrap Bill and Davy Jones’ Locker. Expanding on the wild elements of the first film The Curse of the Black Pearl, namely the Aztec curse, and as Barbossa was one tough act to follow we get not one but three new heavies. It’s yo ho all the way through this epic adventure including more Pirate lore, more ghastly baddies and oh, yeah…a Kraken. With Dead Man’s Chest it’s essentially “go grand, or get ye to port“.
Since Barbossa, I feel, didn’t make for a true villain (sure he was the heavy but not truly evil), this sequel gives us three sleazy characters to root against. Norrinton is back as a disgraced and grog fueled former Commodore. His redemtion seeking angle is a bit trite but is forgiven as it is a great bit of character development, not to mention continuity. In fact I share Jack’s statement from The Curse of the Black Pearl, as I too was “rooting for you mate“. While unpleasant to look at, Davy Jones pretty much writes himself into the history books as one of the screen’s most imaginative and awesome villains (funny I said the same thing about Bill Nighy playing Rattlesnake Jake in Verbinski’s Rango but it fits too). He makes for a good Barbossa 2.0 sharing the screen opposite Jack Sparrow but the compassion behind his tentacles makes his similarly less evil than at first glance.
But the worst of the three, the power hungry Lord Beckett takes supreme pleasure at wielding his authority to get control of the seas in the name of the East India Trading Company. That’s what happens when you engage in piracy kids…Johnny law (albeit corrupt) comes-a-knocking. He quickly gets under our skin as he unflinchingly claps Turner, and the Swans in irons. That and he’s got a major pre-Napoleonic Naoplean complex which doesn’t help matters much.
So with more characters on a bigger chess board, everyone is bartering and gambling for something in this story and it’s actually more fun than it sounds as we follow Will, Jack and the rest of the crew in their attempts to get what they’re after. Even funnier are how quickly all valuable items change hands as all attempts to be serious are constantly shrugged as everyone seems to have to remind themselves that this is a Pirates of the Caribbean film (read: inspired by a theme park ride) after all.
A big part of the success of the Pirates films is the music. This time round Hans Zimmer (who produced Klaus Badelt’s score in the first) has come on board and lent his signature epic sound and high energy themes to the film. Sadly there’s nothing new to the score but it’s just as good as the Pirates theme itself really puts the wind in the sails of Dead Man’s Chest. A perfect sequel, Dead Man’s Chest adequately expands upon all the ground work laid in the previous story. In short this film is the best of the series. There’s just nothing to complain about with this film and I don’t mind getting personal ans just telling you how much I bloody adore this film.
There’s tons to love in Dead Man’s Chest as all aspects of the first film are brought to greater heights. It’s a much grander adventure, the characters are more plentiful as well as more colorful, the jokes are funnier and the stakes are much higher. The equivalent of The Empire Stikes Back, Dead Man’s Chest offer more questions that it answers and succeeds in setting up the continually evolving and epic story. There’s lots of running, shouting, explosions (followed by more running) and laughing but in the end it’s so much fun and, another plus here, a blast on repeat viewings. The set up, the pace and execution perfectly lead up to the grin inducing ending making this the best and most exciting of the series.
As a parting note to you cinephiles and A/V buffs, in March Disney re-released the original trilogy on Blu Ray in anticipation of the release of On Stranger Tides which comes out Friday May, 20th and it is GORGEOUS! The picture quality on Dead Man’s Chest is a much cleaner transfer than The Curse of the Black Pearl. Not that there was anything to complain about with Pearl but for whatever reason Dead Man’s Chest looks even more pristine, making unglamorous pirates look quite glamorous actually. If you don’t have this on your shelf you are really missing out.