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THE SCREENING ROOM
With the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland in California, Walt Disney and his Imagineers created a classic. With the first film “Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl” (2003), Johnny Depp created a classic hero in Jack Sparrow. Now in the sequel, “Dead Man’s Chest” (2006), Jack is back to battle the mysterious Davy Jones.
Much to the surprise of audiences and the movie industry, not only was the “The Curse Of The Black Pearl” a huge hit, but “Dead Man’s Chest” was even bigger, grossing over $1 billion worldwide. The film brought out thousands of fans to its world premiere at Disneyland, California, and the recent release of the DVD sold over 5 million copies. This is on top of theme park attractions being extremely popular around the world. Talk about a phenomenal franchise!
“Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” is now available on a special 2-disc set. Disc 1 contains the feature in widescreen (2.39:1) with a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound soundtrack, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtracks, “Bloopers Of The Caribbean,” audio commentary with screenwriters Ted Elliot & Terry Rossio, a subtitle option and Disney’s Sneak Peeks.
Disc 2 has a treasure trove of doubloons for the pirate in all of us. Included are “Charting The Return” (a documentary on the making of the film), “According To Plan” (another documentary), “Captain Jack: From Head To Toe” (a clever interactive section that lets viewers discover how Jack Sparrow’s costume and make-up come together), “Mastering The Blade” (showcases actors Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and Jack Davenport’s sword fighting), “Meet Davy Jones: The Making Of A Legend” (a breakdown on how Jones was created through CGI), “Creating Kraken” (a breakdown on how the sea creature was created through CGI), “Dead Men Tell New Tales: Re-Imagineering The Attraction” (we see the newest additions to the famous Disneyland and Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom attractions), “Fly On The Set: The Bone Cage” (how the thrilling scene was done), “Jerry Bruckheimer: A Producer’s Photo Diary” (stills from Bruckheimer’s own camera), and “Pirates On Main Street: The Dead Man’s Chest Premiere” (a look at the hectic Disneyland world premiere for the film).
Most of the Disc 2 featurettes are entertaining, and the behind-the-scenes documentaries are fairly usual fare, but well done. To my surprise, not only is Jerry Bruckheimer a talented film producer, but an excellent still photographer as highlighted in his “Producer’s Photo Diary.” I didn’t know he had been taking pictures since childhood and his years of experience are shown here. For fans of the original Disneyland attraction, “Dead Men Tell New Tales” is a neat look at how the ride was re-done to fit in Audio-Animatronic figures of Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa. We also get to visit with X. Atencio, who wrote the script for the original ride and the song, “Yo, Ho, Yo Ho…A Pirate’s Life For Me.”
The picture quality is top-notch, though much of the movie takes place in the dark. That said, the daytime imagery is very good and in tune with Disney’s very consistent eye on DVD picture quality. Colors are rich and Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography blends in with the theming of the film, featuring brown, blue and red hues.
The Dolby Digital soundtrack is full of booms and bangs, slicing swordplay and a few “gotcha” sound effects to make you jump out of your recliner. The sound is outstanding and very powerful. This is reference quality and will challenge your speakers. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack runs at 448kbps, while the international tracks run at 384kbps.
When “Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl” was released in 2003, I was skeptical of the outcome. Nearly every Disney film based on its ride attractions was bad. How many times have you gone back and revisited “The Country Bears?” “Black Pearl” changed that and turned out to be a highly entertaining film. It was a clever re-imagining of the world famous ride. There were clever visual effects, exciting sequences and it made it fun to see a pirate movie. Since that film made so much money, Disney was wise to carry on the franchise and put two sequels into production. “Dead Man’s Chest” came out in the summer of 2006 and scored at the box office.
I can’t say that I was honestly blown away by “Dead Man’s Chest.” As it is, the sequel is a mixed bag for me. On one hand, the film is enjoyable as an adventure yarn. Many of the sequences are fast paced, humorous and staged with great precision by director Gore Verbinski. On the other hand, it
feels chaotic. Too much action occurs and there are too many characters to keep track of. This is not a bad thing. Obviously the formula works and the film’s set pieces like the battle with Kraken, the sword fights and chases are all fun. There’s just too much of it. This particular film in the “Pirates” trilogy has fallen into the George Lucas syndrome where everything and anything is thrown into the pot and mixed up to create a stew. Just because you have the ingredients at your disposal doesn’t mean your concoction is going to taste good. The latest “Star Wars” prequels are a perfect example of that. Yet I’ve found myself watching various sequences of “Dead Man’s Chest” back in the DVD player. The action scenes really are very entertaining. Perhaps it’s the romantic subplot involving Elizabeth (Keira Knightly) and William Turner (Orlando Bloom) that slows the film down. Like I said, the film is a mixed bag for me.
The core of this film, and in the original, is Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Jack Sparrow, a drunken and not always “quite there” pirate. Depp provides the backbone of the film. The creation of the Jack Sparrow character was of genius, playing on riffs of the gleeful pirates that have haunted the Disney attractions for years, and of course, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Depp has created a character that is instantly recognizable and memorable, something that is very difficult to do. Sparrow can easily be placed in the ranks of Indiana Jones, Rocky Balboa and James Bond. What is it about Sparrow that is intriguing? He’s a lovable drunk. It’s brilliant that Depp plays him as a pirate who’s not always suave and is a bit of a flake. Sparrow is almost always up to no good, while at the same time, has a sudden yet reluctant change of heart. The dichotomy of Sparrow’s thought process is very well characterized in Depp’s acting skills. He is an actor of immense skill.
The visual effects are phenomenal as done by ILM. Bill Nighy (Davy Jones) is a fun villain to watch, though not as fun as Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) in “The Curse Of The Black Pearl.” What strikes me as impressive is Nighy’s performance meshing with ILM’s incredible effects work. He’s able to convey his emotions through his eyes. His is a unique villain in that he’s likable yet fearsome, always good villain traits to have. What is additionally remarkable about Davy Jones is that ILM created his fearsome fish face via CGI. The job was so well done that my daughter even commented on how the filmmaker’s did the “make-up job” on Davy Jones. I had to tell her that it wasn’t make-up.
The “Pirates” movies, thus far, have been quite a departure for the Disney label. Being rated PG-13 and filled with scary images and violence, these ain’t Walt’s kind of films that I and my parent’s generation grew up with. But come to think of it, these new films are very much in the tradition of previous Disney pirate and sea faring movies. “Treasure Island” (1950), “Swiss Family Robinson” (1960) and to some extent, “Treasure Planet” (2002), were each fascinated with the playful and sometimes dark side of pirates. Each had playful action and some violence. And the very concept of the “Pirates Of The Caribbean” attraction highlights pillaging, violence, skirt chasing (at least at one time), and gluttony. They’re pirates, after all. The film is surprisingly very violent and sometimes graphic for a Disney film. It is a pirate movie, after all. Being a dad, I guess I’m a little more sensitive to what my child should see. I don’t recommend this film to children who can be easily frightened. Despite the sequel’s often frightening visual effects and some gore, this is a Disney movie that will probably be entertaining for young teenagers on up. I’m sure since the movie has made a lot of money, its PG-13 hasn’t deterred many people of all ages from seeing it.
Disney, Bruckheimer, Depp and a rag tag crew of pirates have created an adventurous and entertaining franchise thus far. This latest home video release is worth capturing for your own DVD bounty.
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Catalog Number 53114
Dolby Digital 5.1
Dolby Digital 5.1 (French and Spanish)
DVD Release Date: December 5, 2006
Two DVD-9 Discs
Director: Gore Verbinski
Cast: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Stellan Skarsgard, Bill Nighy, Jack Davenport, Kevin R. McNally and Jonathan Pryce
Special thanks to Mac McLean
IMAGES: © Disney. All rights reserved.
Copyright 2004-2007 From Script To DVD. All rights reserved.
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