Noah Teuber’s review published on Letterboxd:
Film #2 of 4 in my Pirates of the Caribbean Revisit
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest- and the Pirates sequels as a whole- are great examples of films people either love or hate. While Curse of the Black Pearl was a fairly contained story, Dead Man's Chest and At World's End are very much companions of the same narrative. They deliver more of what people loved about the first film- the characters, set pieces, and action scenes- and put them in a plot that is much more complicated and confusing if you aren't paying attention. I can understand why many dislike these films. It's easy to view the character of Jack Sparrow as a one-trick pony, and the 150 & 170 minute runtimes can feel bloated at times.
I hadn't seen Dead Man's Chest in nearly seven years. I remember it being my favorite one as a kid for some reason. After this viewing, I don't think that's the case anymore. It isn't as great as I remembered, but it's still great... If that makes any sense. Maybe it's because I grew up with them, but I'm still able to find lots to love about this franchise.
Dead Man's Chest introduces a much denser plot containing multiple storylines that takes the series farther into the fantasy genre. I really think enjoying this movie all comes down to how much you enjoy the characters of Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, and Elizabeth Swann. If you love them like I do, then I'm sure you love the character development they're given in this installment. Elizabeth really turns into a strong character here, as she disguises herself as a pirate in search of Jack's compass. I also enjoy the relationship between Will and his dad, Bootstrap Bill (played by Stellan Skarsgård) on the Flying Dutchman. In regards to Jack, I really don't have much to say- I absolutely adore this character. His mannerisms, ethics, dialect...I fucking love it.
I absolutely love the addition of Davy Jones, played by Bill Nighy. He is by far the best villain the series has had yet. The concept of having a villain who keeps his heart in a locked chest, making the task of killing him a whole lot more difficult, is very intriguing to me. Now that I think about it, it has a bit in common with Voldemort in the last Harry Potter book and movies, except Dead Man's Chest came out a year before. Interesting.
Expanding upon the first movie, this is an even more fully realized and fleshed out universe of pirates. The exotic locations- the jungle where Tia Dalma lives in particular- are truly a sight to see. Dariusz Wolski's cinematography captures it all so beautifully, while also being able to achieve a slightly different tone from the original film, which you can tell just from the first shot.
This is also achieved by Hans Zimmer's fantastic score. The melodies he incorporates into the story- Davy Jones' especially- are magnificent and truly put you in the mood for this adventure. The themes returning from the orignal film also feel much more triumphant and powerful. I've been listening to Zimmer's soundtrack for the series all week, they're all just so damn good.
All of the ships scenes on the Black Pearl & the Flying Dutchman are absolutely amazing and incredibly detailed. The Kraken still looks great despite it being 11 years old now, same goes for the crew of the Flying Dutchman as well. Each crew mate is their own unique nightmare, and you can just tell they have a lot of backstory by the way they look. This was well deserving of it's Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
The main flaw for me is pacing. There are parts where the film starts to drag on and the 150 minute runtime begins to show. The final battle between Jack, Will, and Norrington- while easily one of the highlights of the whole movie- ends up losing it's effect by the end. Many elements aren't properly concluded, which is in large part due to the fact that this and At World's End are basically two parts of one movie since they were filmed back-to-back. Regardless, the ending is fantastic, especially the final shot (which blew my fucking mind as a 10 year old).
While many disagree, if you ask me Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is a very solid sequel that delivers on what you come to expect from a continuation of this world. There's just something so fun about the spirit of these films that I absolutely adore. Up next is At World's End, which I think has a better chance of being my favorite of the series. I can't wait.