Thirteen years ago, Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) made a deal with Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) to raise the Black Pearl from the depths of the sea. Now Jones is looking to collect his debt. Jack, along with Gibbs (Kevin McNally) and the rest of his crew, goes in search of the mysterious Dead Man’s Chest to escape Jones’ wrath. All the while being pursued by Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) and the East India Trading Company.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a difficult film to follow up. Dead Man’s Chest does a decent job but it doesn’t quite reach the height its predecessor does. That’s not to say it’s not good, it just wasn’t as entertaining. I’ve already raved about the core cast members returning from the last film so I won’t talk about them again, but they are marvelous here as well. The most exciting addition to the Pirates universe is the caretaker of dead sailors, Davy Jones. Bill Nighy did an excellent job with the character’s body language, giving him a creepy walk and jerky body movements.
One of my favorite aspects about The Curse of the Black Pearl was how it drew inspiration from sailor myth as the backdrop for the story. Dead Man’s Chest incorporated more lore into the story, such as Davy Jones’ Locker, Davy Jones himself, and the monstrous sea beast, the Kraken. I don’t know why I like this so much but I think it is great that old maritime legends are such a huge part of these films.
Speaking of Davy Jones, the special effects on him and his crew look phenomenal. The character design of them, how they have become bits and pieces of different sea creatures is unique and very realistic looking. Pirates in films tend to have a very generic look, and so can undead beings, but no two members of Davy Jones’ crew look alike whatsoever. Having all kinds of sea creatures assimilate into the various crew members also offer several comedic opportunities, such as one who loses his head, which happens to be a hermit crab, so he has to coach his body back to him.
Hans Zimmer takes over composing duties from Klaus Badelt and, no surprise, it is amazing. Much of the organ stuff (very technical, I know) is so much fun to listen to and perfectly captures the essence of Davy Jones. He does integrate Badelt’s iconic He’s A Pirate (the main theme from the first Pirates film) but mostly goes in his own direction, creating a fantastic blend of the two styles.
My favorite fight scene was a three way duel between Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, and Edward Norrington. It occurs over a variety of terrains, including the beach, forest, inside an abandoned building, and a water wheel. Dead Man’s Chest was chock full of action pieces like this, making sure it never get too dull.
Dead Man’s Chest does well to expand on the Pirates of the Caribbean universe, bringing in such legends as Davy Jones’ Locker and the Kraken. It’s not quite as entertaining as The Curse of the Black Pearl but it does what every good sequel should do and ups the stakes for the characters, and adding some memorable characters along the way.
Cast & Crew
Gore Verbinski – Director
Ted Elliot – Writer
Terry Rossio – Writer
Hans Zimmer – Composer
Johnny Depp – Jack Sparrow
Orlando Bloom – Will Turner
Keira Knightly – Elizabeth Swann
Kevin McNally – Joshamee Gibbs
Jack Davenport – Edward Norrington
Bill Nighy – Davy Jones
Jonathan Pryce – Governor Weatherby Swann
Tom Hollander – Cutler Beckett
Lee Arenberg – Pintel
Mackenzie Crook – Ragetti
Stellen Skarsgard – Bootstrap Bill
David Bailie – Cotton
Naomie Harris – Tia Dalma
Martin Klebba – Marty
David Schofield – Mercer
Alex Norton – Captain Bellamy