For Ryu in particular, and anyone else interested, AICN's Moriarty paid a recent visit to Bruckheimer and Verbinski, and got a sneak peek at the film in its final production phases. His write-up sounds extremely promising, as here's some of what he had to say:
"One thing that they have on their side is the fact that they’ve brought back everyone. And I mean everyone. As much as Johnny Depp was a key piece of the puzzle, he wasn’t the whole picture. I think Gore Verbinski is one of those directors who really is the whole package. He chooses to make really commercial fare, but I like the way he approaches filmmaking. I think he’s got a strong visual style, but he doesn’t overpower the films he’s making. He’s not just going to ladle on the style for the sake of it. Instead, he seems to appreciate a good script and he definitely makes room for his actors to have fun and contribute truly special work. Those are valuable skills that many A-listers don’t possess, and I think part of what made the first PIRATES work was the way it managed to include some sly nods to the ride without ever feeling perfunctory or like a simple commercial."
"I don’t recommend films simply for visual effects work. At this point, there are several companies who routinely do excellent work, and the bar has been raised so high that people have stopped noticing innovation. From film to film right now, software gets refined or rendering power gets increased or people perfect certain tools, and everything is so cutting edge that nothing is. It takes a lot for me to really stop and stare at something in confusion. Hats off, then, to the guys at ILM this time around for their work on the crew of Davy Jones’s ship. These cursed souls have started to change into creatures of the sea in strange and disturbing ways. Every one of his crewmen are elaborately designed. And every one of those make-up jobs in this film were done digitally. These aren’t entirely CGI creations, either. These are digital make-up jobs done to the actors who are absolutely giving the performances you’re watching."
".... And that, of course, is Davy Jones. Bill Nighy, who’s been on a real roll lately, is going to be one of the most iconic screen creations of the year as Davy. Every single moment of screen time I saw with him was fascinating. It’s a well-imagined character, but beyond that, watching how Nighy inhabits this digital make-up is remarkable. I was shown footage of Nighy live on-set, and then I was shown the finished footage of him in the film, and it’s remarkable. The crazy details, like the way the body of the octopus throbs on the back of his head like a brain-sac or the way he blows air through his lips when exasperated, are what sell Davy Jones as real. Also, the film has big enough balls to do many of the Jones sequences in harsh, bright sunlight, daring you to find something wrong with what you’re seeing. Davy Jones and his crew are all different, all designed with that same rich attention to detail, and all of them fully-articulated to the same degree."
"There’s no question... this is a gigantic, expensive, risky movie for Disney. It’s not as risky as trying to sell something no one’s ever heard of, but there’s still a lot of pressure on the filmmakers to succeed and to justify the massive bill required to bring this one to life. This is risky because the first film was such a happy accident, a great example of chemistry gone right, and trying to recreate that can sometimes be a losing proposition and even irritate an audience enough to ruin their affection for the original. That won’t happen here. This is as smart and as solid a sequel as I can imagine Hollywood making at this point. It looks like they listened to the audience of the original, and they really thought about what worked. This thing wasn’t rushed, and you can tell. Every frame of what I saw had been lavished with attention and was packed with layer upon layer of things to look at and to rewatch. This looks to be one of those rare sequels that actually makes the first film richer if everything pays off as well as what I saw. Although I wasn’t exactly dying to see a sequel to PIRATES when it was first announced, this has won me over, little by little. That last trailer was a pretty much flawless blockbuster trailer, and that’s when I really started to suspect that this one might be something special. Seeing this footage and spending the time listening to Bruckheimer talking about what they’ve done convinced me completely."
You can check out the whole write-up here, as well as a few neat conceptual pics of Davy Jones' crew, but be warned that there are story spoilers to be found: