Yo-ho-ho and a big tub of popcorn: Johnny Depp is back as the outrageous Captain Jack Sparrow in a sequel to the 2003 hit swashbuckler inspired by a ride at Disneyland. Alan Silverman has a look at the comic adventure Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.
The ghostly pirate crew that Captain Jack fought in Curse of the Black Pearl was kid stuff compared the challenge he's up against in this sequel.
Davey Jones, supernatural ruler of the undersea underworld claims Jack's soul and demands he spend eternity roving the seas in a phantom pirate ship. Captain Jack is just as determined to use all the tricks up his flouncy sleeve to remain among the living.
Johnny Depp, decked out again with gold-crowned teeth and braided hair, has a bit of extra spring in his step as, perhaps, the most flamboyant pirate ever to plunder and pillage ...at least on the big screen.
"I kind of like everything about playing him. He's just a fun character," Depp says. " I certainly wasn't ready to say goodbye to him after Pirates 1. I felt like there was a lot more that could be done ...more fun to be had and try things ...just to see what you can get away with; and I've been very lucky so far.
"All the things that are happening in your world immediately sort of affect the way you approach your day," Depp adds, "so it can't help but seep into your work, I guess. It probably made it a little easier that I wasn't getting the panicked, worried phone calls asking 'what [the hell] are you doing? You're ruining the movie.' I didn't get those this time, which may have helped to add a little bit of a spring."
Gore Verbinski directed the original Pirates of the Caribbean and returns to helm two sequels; the third film is already in production and due out next year. That makes Dead Man's Chest the middle chapter in a trilogy and Verbinski says that makes it most challenging.
"I think there's always a problem," he says. "Just like you have a problem with second acts, you have problems with second films in a trilogy. Sometimes they just feel like they're on their way somewhere and we wanted to make sure the film was really entertaining. The challenge was to take action and kind of pervert it. I'm not interested in car chases and helicopters and I'm not interested in sword fights and cannons. So if I have a sword fight I want to put it on a wheel and if I have men in a cage and they have to escape I don't want them to get out of that cage; I don't want to let them out of the cage, I want them to carry the cage with them. The challenges were how to take action and somehow keep it absurd ...and make it fun."
The 'wheel' director Verbinski described is a two-story tall waterwheel that breaks loose and rolls down the hill as hero Will Turner, played once again by Orlando Bloom, leaps atop it, crossing swords with one of the many villains.
"Soaking wet, six in the morning with a flaming sword in your hand. They're getting their money's worth, believe me. I mean, being harnessed in that thing ...because gravity pushes you one way as it's rolling so you go 'whoa,' defying it," Bloom says. "Then as the wheel goes back up, you're fighting gravity to keep in the same direction. It was mad (and) very uncomfortable; but when you see it on the screen you go 'it was worth every penny ...worth every moment.' "
That's akin to the experience of co-star Bill Nighy. The veteran English actor is new to the Pirates realm and to the world of digital moviemaking. He plays Davey Jones whose appearance on screen is altered through computer imagery to give him a lobster's claw for a hand and a face squirming with tentacles.
"I've never engaged in anything like this before and early on it was kind of daunting because I wasn't familiar with the process" he admits, "and I wasn't quite sure how to tune the performance to inhabit these pictures I had been shown. Every now and then you remember that you've got a live octopus growing out of your chin, which is a new challenge for me."
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest also stars Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swan, Captain Jack's foil and Will Turner's fiancee. Stellan Skarsgard is one of Jack's long-dead shipmates, back from the deep; and the chapter ends with a tease of things to come next year in the third film - the return of Geoffrey Rush as the pirate Barbossa. The films are produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and feature his signature action, explosions and even chase scenes on the high seas.