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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (DVD Review)

26 Nov, 2006 By: John Latchem

Street 12/5/06
Box Office $422.1 million
$29.99 DVD, $34.99 two-DVD set
Rated ‘PG-13' for intense sequences of adventure violence, including frightening images.
Stars Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Jack Davenport, Jonathan Pryce, Bill Nighy, Stellan Skarsg?rd, Naomie Harris.

Of all the films in cinematic history to feature a kraken, this is the latest. It also may be the best movie with a kraken in it (with apologies to Clash of the Titans), if one considers the creature in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea actually to be just a giant squid.

The second “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie is a rousing adventure — a worthy sequel with a DVD worthy of such a blockbuster, even if it lacks deleted scenes.

The film is loaded with seamless visual effects, though the storyline shows some signs of wear and tear. As the novelty of Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow character begins to wear off, the story arcs become increasingly reliant on how much the audience cares for the characters. In that regard, I'm still amazed these films have become the mega-blockbusters they are.

Dead Man's Chest probably owes more to the storytelling devices of The Empire Strikes Back than actual pirate legend. Like the first “Star Wars” sequel, Dead Man's Chest has a love triangle, an uncertain fate for a rogue hero, and a cliffhanger ending — similarities writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio acknowledge and try to distance themselves from in their commentary.

And it's a good commentary, filled with insights about the storyline and pirate lore that resonate in the film, adding to the rich on-screen texture and amplifying the viewing experience. As usual, the best commentaries involve the writers and directors, for they more than anyone involved in the production can really dissect the film's meaning.

The nearly three hours of featurettes on the second disc tell the complete story of the making of the film, from conception and filming to the premiere and changing the original Disneyland ride to include characters from the movies. In addition to its lessons about filmmaking, these programs reveal a ton of hidden details that really inform the fictional world in which the films are set. Even Jack Sparrow's rings seem to have some story behind them that serve to enhance the character.

It's neat to see how the filmmakers simulated the kraken attacks, literally crushing a ship into two parts. And it's surreal to watch a scene with none of the effects layered in. Davy Jones' crew becomes a band of men dressed in gray pajamas laced with computer-tracking dots. What appears to be fantastic makeup is simply a computer artist's rendering.

The DVD contains no actual preview of the third movie — At World's End, due in May — but allusions to it are scattered throughout the bonus materials.

About the Author: John Latchem

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