His skill in balancing evil with intelligence and humor gave Depp the perfect foil to work against and made both central characters that much more interesting. The supporting crew was also downright fantastic with the gorgeous Knightley showing us that she's not just another pretty face and Orlando Bloom proving that Legolas can do much more than just run across the plains looking for Orcs! That's not even to mention the great crowd of pirates, mutineers and buccaneers who gave the film the little spice it needed to push itself over the hump. Visually, the film is a feast with awesome costumes, great landscapes and some of the nicer and most effective visual effects I've seen in a long, long time. Verbinski did an amazing job of combining the whole lot together while maintaining his great cast at the forefront of the effort. Hans Zimmer also retooled his GLADIATOR score to give the film an appropriate dose of majesty (yeah, we caught you Hans, but it's not a problem). Overall, the one word to describe this movie is "fun". It's got everything you want in a summer blockbuster, with the addition of its great performances and intelligent dialogue. It's a treat for everyone in the family.
Audio Commentaries: There are three commentaries starting with a full-length audio commentary with director Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp. In addition to the fact that both men sound as if they're higher than all the kites in the sky, they're both also quite funny and this track goes down pretty well. I would have expected that from Depp, but Verbinski was a nice surprise. Following that is a set of scene selected audio commentaries, one featuring stars Keira Knightley and John Davenport and the other featuring producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Although they're both a bit tamer than the first, they do have their interesting moments and even though many of them involve my fantasies about Knightley, the actual information is pertinent as well. The last track is a full-length audio commentary by screenwriters Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio Stuart Beattie and Jay Wolpert. These guys deserve plenty of kudos for putting together something so fun. It's worth a listen just to see where they came from.
An Epic at Sea (38 mins.): Say what you will about producer Jerry Bruckheimer, the man's been involved with some great films and he's been involved with some garbage, but when it comes to making sure viewers get a spectacle out of their movie, he sure doesn't mess around! You can see all the lengths that were gone to in order to bring this story to life in this great 'making-of' documentary that discusses actors, locations, costumes, set design and everything else you can think of. It's actually quite interesting and very straightforward, getting right to the point without getting lost in self-promotion.
Fly on the Set (20 mins.): Like the title says, this allows you to take a look into the shooting of 5 key scenes from the movie. There's no voice over or anything, just an on-set camera that's usually located right next to the director and which lets you sneak a peak all around. It's decent, although there's no real point in sticking around for the whole thing.
Producer's Photo Diary (4 mins.): Like Bruckheimer explains off the bat, there's not much for a producer to do on set once everything is underway so he just stuck around and took some cool pictures, which you can see in his photo diary. By the looks of it, if the whole movie thing hadn't panned out, he could have made a couple of pennies off his pictures.
Diary of a Pirate (9mins.): Actor Lee Arenberg, who plays the pirate Pintel, made his own video diary of the set, complete with a couple of funny lines and a lot of hanging around with some very piratey looking mates.
Diary of a Ship (11 min.): This vignette chronicles the trip made by the ship The Lady Washington from its California harbor, through the Panama Canal and down to the Caribbean, where it stood in as the Interceptor. It's actually really scenic and much cooler than I thought, but keep in mind...I'm a huge nerd.
Below Deck (Interactive): For the younger crowd and for those who still think Pirates are just about the coolest thing since Vikings and Cowboys, comes this cool feature that plops down all kinds of info about actual buccaneers. History on their ships, their symbols, their weapons and more is distributed for all to enjoy. And enjoy I did!
Blooper Reel (3 mins.): Unfortunately, none of the bloopers involve Keira Knightley accidentally slipping out of her top, but fortunately, they do involve a lot of Johnny Depp being his usual charming self. Other than that, it's your basic collection of flubbed lines and dropped props.
Deleted Scenes (19 mins.): A bit of a disappointment here when you find out that 19 deleted scenes have a combined running time of 19 minutes. That's because the scenes are, for the major part, extended scenes from the film with only a few seconds of additional footage added to them. A few do pack some punch, but most just leave you guessing as to why they would have cut that extra 2 seconds out.
"Moonlight Serenade" Scene Progression (6 mins.): This displays the "Moonlight Serenade" scene (The one in which Barbossa reveals the Curse of the Black Pearl to Elizabeth) in various stages of completion with a voice-over explaining exactly how it was made. For those who, like myself, walked out of this movie raving about the seamless visual effects, this is actually quite interesting.
Image Gallery: Dozens upon dozens of stills ranging from storyboards to production shots, from concept art to publicity pics and more can be accessed through this feature.
Pirates in the Parks (20 mins.): Extracted from an old Disney TV show, this kick-ass feature shows the building of the Disneyland ride which inspired this movie. For anyone who has had the good fortune to spend some time at Disneyland, it's certain that this ride has left an indelible mark on their trip.