Film Length: 150 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
Subtitles: English SDH, French & Spanish
Release Date: December 5, 2006
When the original Pirates of the Caribbean arrived in theaters in 2003, very few people could honestly have predicted that a movie based upon a ride from Disney Land would end up as both a critically and popularly acclaimed film, much less an Oscar nominated film. I was particularly sceptical myself, but was won over by the original story-telling and the fantastic acting antics of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. So, in a complete reversal from my lack of initial interest in the first film, I was very excited to see the sequel, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest as it arrived in theaters this past summer. Obviously I wasn't alone. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest has since become the box office smash of 2006, one of the highest grossing films of all-time and one of the most anticipated DVD releases of the past few years.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest begins shortly after the events of the first film have concluded. Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Kinghtley) are supposed to be marrying, yet both have been taken into custody by British Magistrates. In exchange for his and Elizabeth's freedom, Will is sent on an adventure to locate Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in order to gain posession of his mysterious compass. However, the elusive Davy Jones also wants a piece of Captain Jack and his fellow adventurers. We are treated to island natives, the Kraken and loads of high seas adventure as Jack attempts to locate the dead man's chest in an attempt to save his own life.
While not quite as much fun as the original, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is still a heck of a good time. Most of the original players from the first film have returned and it is clear that they all enjoy working together. Johnny Depp, of course, is the star of the show. His Captain Jack Sparrow never ceases to entertain and is one of Depp's finest cinematic creations. The film does seem a bit long in places and some of the more slapstick elements can become tiresome. However, this is still a great bit of action / adventure / comedy and it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Pirates of the Caribbean arrives on DVD with a first rate transfer. Unlike the first film's DVD release, this transfer is free of edge enhancement, halos and other annoying video artifacts. I was particulary impressed with the amount of detail in this DVD transfer. Intricate wood grains in the various sea vessels, skin details and hair were all very impressive. Grain was also well represented without a hint of extraneous noise. Much of this film was shot in extremely low light and this DVD does an excellent job of accurately presenting shodow details and exceptional black levels. Colors are often muted, but this is consistent with the theatrical presentation of the film. When the film does feature brighter and more saturated colors, this DVD handles them exceptionally well. The only thing lacking in this transfer is consistency. Very occasionally, the picture appears slightly soft. Take for example the scene near the beginning of the film where Bootstrap Bill visits Captain Jack on his ship. As the film cut between shots of Bill and Jack, the picture would be noticeably sharper and then softer from one cut to the next. This is a minor quibble, but this lack of consistency keeps Pirates of the Caribbean from achieving a perfect video score. Still, this is an exceptional transfer and is indicative of the best of what DVD has to offer. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
As with the video, the audio portion of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is VERY impressive. Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, this ranks among the finest DVD soundtracks of recent memory. The surround channels are extremely active with loads of directional activity. My subwoofer was continuously rumbling with outstanding low frequency effects. Dialogue was crisp and perfectly intelligible. The most impressive aspect of this Dolby Digital track is how well it handles multiple sounds simultaneously. There are so many scenes in Pirates of the Caribbean where you have heavy dialogue, furious music and booming sound effects. These scenes are so well done that there is never a hint of fatigue or any feeling that the sound is overpowering your system. Once again, Pirates of the Caribbean is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
For this review, Disney supplied the 2-disc special edition. The single disc edition contains only the elements presented on disc one of the 2-disc set. Here's what's included:
-Audio Commentary with Writers Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio
-Bloopers of the Caribbean
-Charting the Return (Pre-Production Documentary)
-According to Plan: The Harrowing and True Story of Dead Man's Chest
-Captain Jack: From Head to Toe
-Mastering the Blade: Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Jack Davenport
-Meet Davy Jones: Anatomy of a Legend
-Creating the Kraken
-Dead Men Tell New Tales: Re-Imagineering the Attraction
-Jerry Bruckheimer: A Producers Photo Diary
-Fly on the Set: The Bone Cage
-Pirates on Main Street: The Dead Man's Chest Premiere
If you're a fan of supplementary material, then you will very likely be thrilled with this set. I have certainly seen special editions with more extras, but very few feature extras of such quality. No stone was left unturned as we are treated to multiple behind the scenes views of just about every aspect of production. From special effects and locations to sword training, watching these special features will take you, in chronological order, from pre-production to the premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean. I was particularly impressed with the feature on the making of the Kraken as well as the behind the scenes re-design of the Pirates of the Caribbean Disney ride. Set aside about 5 hours to get through all of these features. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
The Final Analysis:
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is a stunning release from Disney. An exceptional video and audio presentation, a great story and outstanding extras make this set a must purchase! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Equipment used for this review:
Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-Ray Player
Mitsubishi HD1000U Front Projector
Carada 93” diagonal 16x9 Criterion Series/Brilliant White Screen – www.carada.com
Rotel RSX-1056 Surround Receiver
Rotel RB-1080 Amplifier
M&K MX-125 Subwoofer