It’s rare that the commentary track on an action movie features its writers (in the case of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott) debating whether audiences could follow its plot. But then, not all films are ”experimenting with structure…trusting the audience to pick up from what is said or done in the movie and imagine the story that may have come before it.”
Critics may not have appreciated the boys’ attempt to break the basic Bruckheimer mold in theaters — action movies move, and who wants to stop and wonder why Capt. Jack Sparrow (Depp) and the East India Trading Company hunt the heart of Davy Jones (Bill Nighy)? But the hide-and-seek storytelling becomes a fun little game on DVD. Did Jack’s soul-baring compass really point back to the Black Pearl near the film’s end? Technically, the writers never decided that one, but you’ll still enjoy playing along.
The gripping tales that unfold across disc 2’s must-see making-of docs are enlightening to follow. Four months before shooting, director Gore Verbinski still has no script: drama! While he battles the budget, and eventually Hurricane Wilma, the actors rehearse sword fights, brave the giant wheel and bone cages (comedy!), and feel sorry for Nighy, who’s been asked to embody the devil of the sea while wearing a not-so-imposing motion-capture onesie.
Jack Davenport, who plays the now-drunkard James Norrington, quickly emerges as a charmer — the guy admits that he’s ”built for saying things and not bumping into furniture” as opposed to swashbuckling, and yet even the stunt coordinator loves him. Depp, however, remains the most fascinating, thanks to a head-to-toe deconstruction of Sparrow (he asked for that toe necklace). Perhaps the costume designer has better odds for an Oscar nod this time around: When she couldn’t recall which Turkish villagers wove Jack’s original striped pink sash, she sent someone to find them. Now that’s commitment.