Liam Farrier’s review published on Letterboxd:
There's so many tentacles here, cthuluh would be proud.
Every frame in Dead Man's Chest is absolutely gorgeous. From a rainy wedding, to an exotic island, evil fish-men - everything is so stunning in it's design that it's awe inspiring. Storywise, it's focused on worldbuilding the myths of the Pirates world, much like the first but to a much grander scale. While curse of the black pearl dips its toe into the fantasy elements of pirates legend, dead mans chest completely commits. I can see why some would drop their interest as things get pretty damn weird, but if you're on board its a marvel to watch. The effects hold up well by todays standards, with davy jones (supported by Bill Nighly's performanc) being a stand-out for how gross and real it looks. Verbinski's direction is on poiny, giving this franchise it's signature flair and confidence in it's own narrative.
Speaking of narrative, this one centers around real myrhs surrounding the curse of the black spot and davy jone's. Jack's prior deal with the creature (made one by his humanity being locked away) for the Black Pearl in exchange for his life has come to it's close, and he is unwilling to pay it. This links to Jack being unable to focus (compass) on what he actually wants as he can't decide whether to give in to fate or try and cheat it. It's only throw the involvement of Will and Elizabeth, in a similar debt to the EITC, that this journey to cheat destiny even happens. The parallel between Jones (someone who's accepted his dire position in life) and Sparrow (who will cheat and betray his way for his own freedom) is well done, and once again puts scrutiny on who Jack really is as a character. Up until the very end, Jack is unsure of himself, finally choosing to help his own crew at the bitter end. Still unwilling to make the ultimate sacrifice, his flawed character meets his judgement by Elizabeth, who betrays him for her own survival. His lifestyle in a sense, literally kills him.
Thats just one thing, but theres a lot relating the real life traits of pirates with a standard fantasy narrative, and it works really well. Having a very reluctant hero is interesting and adds this layer of unoreditsblity to his actions.
That being said, for all it's spectacle and strong points of narrative, there's a lot of issues with the film. It's clearly convoluted as there's so much that happens in here. I barely scraped the surface, and not in a good way. Norringtons involvement was not needed and overcomplicates an overstuffed film. Once again theres a side plot on an island thats useless. The humor can be pretty dire at points (every line given to knightly on that island was terrible). Not to say the film isn't self-aware about this as the final showdown is a gloriously fun mess (that wheel). Personally, I kind of respect what it's going for, and due to how well directed this film is, it's hard not to enjoy it. I'd argue that if it wasn't for verbinski, this trilogy wouldn't work at all.