PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MANS CHEST
Dead Man's Chest offers up the same mix that Pirates of the Caribbean did lots of swashbuckling, Johnny Depps comically fey performance and a deft mixture of comedy and adventure. With a budget of $225 million (nearly $100 million more than Pirates of the Caribbean), Dead Man's Chest is certainly far more lavish in terms of spectacle and production finish than Pirates of the Caribbean was. Gore Verbinski, along with Industrial Light and Magic and production designer Rick Heinrichs, pull off some dazzling spectacle the camera panning around harbours full of sailing ships, scenes with the pirates imprisoned in a cage of bones attached to the end of a rope trying to scale up a vast cliff face, beached full-size sailing ships, massively scaled effects sequences with the Kraken tearing ships apart. The makeup effects people turn out an extraordinary range of piscine creations among Davy Joness crew, while Davy Jones comes with a digitally created octopus-like face of amazing texture and depth.
There is also the sense that what we have in Dead Man's Chest is Pirates of the Caribbean spread out onto a larger stage. Like Pirates of the Caribbean, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossios script for Dead Man's Chest sets a wide stage but ends up being sprawling. There are a number of simultaneous running plots going on and at 150 minutes it often becomes difficult to keep track of why everyone is each chasing the chest for their own purposes and whose allegiance is to who or who is betraying who at any one particular moment. There are several subplots that could have been dropped altogether like the 15 or more minutes we get of the crew on another ship being fooled into thinking a stowaway Keira Knightleys dress is a ghost; while the scenes with Johnny Depp being turned into a native sacrifice verge on bad racial humour.
Moreover, what one realizes upon reaching the end of the 150 minutes is that Dead Man's Chest has not been designed as a self-contained film and that it concludes on a cliffhanger as set up for the equally sprawling At World's End. A measure of the contrast might be to imagine Dead Man's Chest being stripped of its scale and lavish over-production and brought back down to the size of Pirates of the Caribbean or even for that matter were Dead Man's Chest the first film in the series, and whether it would have been able to stand on its own and be as successful as the original was. It is hard to say; mindedly, I thought Pirates of the Caribbean was overrated too.
For all that, Dead Man's Chest has a good-natured and eccentric charm. Where Dead Man's Chest works best is when Gore Verbinski is allowed to let the humour flourish the sequence with Johnny Depp escaping from the natives sacrificial fire and running about with a pole tied to his back looking like a gigantic fruit kebab; or the madcap sequence with various parties sword duelling around the top of a giant out-of-control rolling mill wheel. All the cast are up to scratch Johnny Depp gives another gauche comic performance; Orlando Bloom plays handsome and intent; Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook have their roles embellished to become in effect the live-action equivalent of Disney talking animal sidekicks. It is only Keira Knightley, the lovely and spirited find that Pirates of the Caribbean brought to A-list status, who is relatively subdued and quiet.
After several years silence, there were two further sequels with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales/Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazars Revenge (2017). Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest was parodied in Epic Movie (2007).
(Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Bill Nighy), Best Special Effects and Best Production Design at this sites Best of 2006 Awards).