The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) was the first film in a planned trilogy of Pirates of the Caribbean films (though the success of the first three has led to a fourth released in 2011, with a fifth reportedly in the making), and with the immense success of the first entry, a sequel was easily warranted, which followed three years later in the form of Dead Man’s Chest. The film continues to follow Captain Jack Sparrow, and is once again produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. The production elements of the first film are still very much present here, with the unfortunate inclusion of the score.
Composer Hans Zimmer reportedly wrote the bulk of music for the first film, but was unable to take credit for it due to contractual obligations on The Last Samurai (for which he wrote an excellent score). Time was short, due to the firing of Alan Silvestri from the film, whose ideas didn’t match what the producer was looking for. Klaus Badelt received primary credit for the score, though he was assisted by an army of co-composers, orchestrators, and programmers. The result of that was a score that was mostly hacked out on synthesizers, a truly awful mess which raised a debate about the score’s clear attempt to redefine the swashbuckling genre of film music.
Whilst Zimmer had more time for this film and was able to take credit for the score, he was still assisted by seven assistants from his music factory (so, they each wrote approximately six and a half minutes of music, to be a little over simplistic). Though the score does employ slightly more orchestral elements than its predecessor, the electronics are so prominent that it’s difficult to tell the difference. The album contains 51 minutes of music, if you don’t include the utterly hideous “Tiesto Remix” (does anybody know what that means?) remix of the “He’s a Pirate Theme”. Much of the material from the previous score carries over to this one, though there are some new (well, as new as you could hope for) thematic ideas as well. A new theme for Davy Jones is introduced in the named cue, which is first heard played by a music box, and then launches into an organ (electric of course) driven piece which would be quite enjoyable were it not for the rambling electronics that build up higher and higher as the piece progresses. Another is the theme for the underwater menace known as the Kraken, which makes a semi-enjoyable piece of action music, as does (to a higher extent) the “Wheel of Fortune” cue, though again, if it was performed by a real orchestra with less electronics it would be so much better.
Anyone who has read this site in any kind of depth will know that I’m someone who prefers the film scores of the Golden and Silver ages of cinema, so I guess I was pretty much destined to hate this music. The thing is though, there’s a reason why the music of Erich Wolfgang Korngold has been associated with sea faring swashbucklers for so long, and that is, simply, because it works. I’m not saying that The Sea Hawk is what this film needed, but surely something could be found in between?
At the end of the day though, whether you think this sort of music fits the swashbuckler genre well or not, the fact remains that this is yet another bland, generic, and predictable score to come out of Remote Control Productions. If you enjoyed The Curse of the Black Pearl, you’ll no doubt enjoy this, and vice versa. My personal advice with regards to these scores however, is the same as before – buy the third (At World’s End), skip the rest.
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1. Jack Sparrow (6:06)
2. The Kraken (6:55)
3. Davy Jones (3:15)
4. I’ve Got My Eye on You (2:25)
5. Dinner is Served (1:30)
6. Tia Dalma (3:57)
7. Two Hornpipes (Tortuga) (1:14)
8. A Family Affair (3:34)
9. Wheel of Fortune (6:45)
10. You Look Good Jack (5:34)
11. Hello Beastie (10:15)
12. Bonus: He’s a Pirate (Remix) (7:02)
Total Time: 58:32
Composed by Hans Zimmer
Additional Music by Lorne Balfe, Tom Gire, Nick Glennie-Smith, Henry Jackman, Trevor Morris, John Sponsler, & Geoff Zanelli
Orchestrations by Bruce Fowler, Walt Fowler, Rick Giovinazzo, Ken Kugler, & Suzette Moriarty
Conducted by Pete Anthony
Produced by Hans Zimmer & Bob Badami
Grammy Award (nominated)
Contains no information about the score or the film.
All artwork and images are Copyright © Walt Disney Records.