Will Turner’s (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann’s (Keira Knightley) wedding is interrupted when Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander), who is Chairman of the East India Trading Company, shows up with arrest warrants for both of them, and for Commodore James Norrington (Jack Davenport), who let Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) escape at the end of the previous movie. Norrington has disappeared after losing the Navy’s flagship, HMS Dauntless, to storm and pirates. Meanwhile, aboard the Black Pearl, Jack is visited by Will’s father, Bootstrap Bill Turner (Stellan Skarsgard). He is a crewmember aboard the ghostly Flying Dutchman, captained by Davy Jones (an unrecognizable but compelling Bill Nighy).
Jack had bartered a deal with Davy Jones to raise the Pearl from the ocean’s depths, and now he must join the crew of the Dutchman or be dragged down into the depths of Davy Jones’s locker by the Kraken. Lord Beckett meets with Will and says he has three pardons plus a Letter of Marque for Jack signed by the King. Will and Elizabeth will be pardoned if Will travels for the East India Company to recover Jack’s supernatural compass.
Will finds Jack and the crew on an island and snatches them from cannibals. Then they visit a voodoo princess named Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris), who tells them that Davy Jones has a weakness. His heart is locked up in the Dead Man’s Chest. If Jack finds it he can escape Davy Jones’s service. Will finds the Dutchman and makes a deal with Jack. In exchange for Jack’s compass, he will find the key to the chest, but he is tricked into joining Jones’s crew. Jones will release Jack for 99 more souls. Will meets his father and learns that Jones has the key to the chest. Will escapes with the key and is taken aboard a ship which is sunk by the Kraken, but Will escapes.
Meanwhile, Governor Swann frees Elizabeth from jail but is confined himself. Elizabeth bargains with Beckett to find the compass. She goes to Tortuga, where she finds Jack and a drunken Norrington. Jack takes them and a new crew aboard and Elizabeth uses the compass to find the chest. They arrive at Isla Cruces, where the chest is buried, but Jack, Will, and Norrington fight with swords to get possession of the heart. Jack wants to call off the Kraken and end his debt to Jones. Will wants to release his father from the Dutchman. And Norrington wants to be restored to his position in the Navy. Norrington steals the heart and escapes. The Kraken attacks the Pearl, killing most of the crew, but Jack wounds the Kraken with gunpowder and rum.
Jack orders the survivors to abandon ship, but Elizabeth tricks Jack and chains him to the mast. The Kraken drags Jack and the Black Pearl down to Davy Jones’s Locker. Jones declares Jack’s debt settled but when he opens the chest he finds his heart gone. In Port Royal, Norrington gives Beckett the heart and returns to the bosom of the Navy. Beckett gains control of Davy Jones and the sea itself. The Pearl’s crew takes shelter with Tia Dalma and they decide to rescue Jack, under the captaincy of the resurrected Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). To be continued.
The film was directed by Gore Verbinski, written by Ted Ellott and Terry Rusio, and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. It was shot together with At World’s End, the third film of the series. It received mixed reviews, positive as to special effects, direction, action, Hans Zimmer’s music, humor and actors’ performances, but not as to running time and plot. Sequels are almost always criticized for their plots, since so much has to be put in for the audience’s expectations that the story seems rushed and awkward. But it received four Oscar nominations and won for Best Visual Effects. It was an expensive movie, filmed in Palos Verde, Saint Vincent, Dominica and the Bahamas, and required ships to be built or rented, including the replica of HMS Bounty from Mutiny on the Bounty (1962). The swordplay was, as it had to be, even more exciting and preposterous than that in the previous movie.
Filming on location in the Caribbean was, of course, difficult, with debilitating heat alternating with torrential downpours, and the occasional hurricane. Johnny Depp’s stunt double was seriously injured. Loads of bizarre creatures had to be built and computerized and filmed, and the Kraken was a giant monster worthy of Ray Harryhausen. The film was two and a half hours long. Some of the creatures were designed by Tim Burton. The special effects crew watched David Attenborough documentaries to learn how sea creatures moved. They were remarkable and mostly terrifying. There is a huge clock in one scene that is said to be the one from Back to the Future. The cast was not told that Geoffrey Rush would appear in the last scene and their surprise was genuine. And Orlando Bloom was not told that Keira Knightly would be kissing Johnny Depp.