Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Blu-ray) (2011)
Audio Commentary-Director Marshall and executive producer John DeLuca
Outtakes-Bloopers of the Caribbean
Teaser Trailer-Cars 2
DVD Plus-Bonus DVD of the movie and extras
Featurette-Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: Captain Jacks's Brick Tales
Featurette-Discover Blu-ray 3D With Timon & Pumbaa
|Year Of Production||2011|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Rob Marshall|
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 (6912Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French DTS HD High Resolution Audio 7.1 (2304Kb/s)
Italian DTS HD High Resolution Audio 7.1 (2304Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, Angelica finds the Captain Jack voodoo doll.|
"Live Forever... Or Die Trying"
It seems hard to believe that four years have passed since the previous Pirates of the Caribbean movie hit our screens. That the franchise would continue however was never in doubt. There was more treasure to be had in milking Captain Jack Sparrow - even if two of the earlier stalwarts Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley had sailed on to different shores. Also walking the gangplank (or perhaps running off it) was former director Gore Verbinski, replaced in this instalment by the Oscar nominated (for Chicago) Rob Marshall. To reclaim the gloss and charm that had started to fade in Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3 would be a formidable task for Marshall and crew.
This time around Captain Jack (Johnny Depp) ends up in search of the mystical Fountain of Youth after been forced to join pirate captain Blackbeard’s (Ian McShane) ghostly crew. Amongst the company is former lover (and Blackbeard’s daughter) Angelica Teach (Penelope Cruz). Angelica had been impersonating Sparrow in an attempt to recruit a crew tasked with finding the Fountain in the hope that its magical properties can save the cursed Blackbeard’s life. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) reprises his role from the earlier movies – this time leading King George’s (played by Richard Griffiths) British expedition in search of the Fountain with the assistance of Sparrow’s former first mate, Joshamee Gibbs (Kevin McNally). This group is in direct competition with the Spanish forces that are also searching for the Fountain - but with different motives. The key to unlocking the powers of the fountain is drinking from one of two silver chalices once belonging to Juan Ponce de León. The chalice which contains the tear of a mermaid will bring eternal life whereas the other will bring death. Needless to say obtaining a tear from the murderous mermaids is not an easy task, so when captive missionary Philip Swift (Sam Claflin), falls in love with mermaid Syrena (Ŕstrid Bergčs-Frisbey), an avenue opens for easier access. On top of this Sparrow has learned that his ship the “Black Pearl” has been shrunk by the magical Blackbeard, and is now contained in a bottle. Who gets to the Fountain first amidst the intrigue and trickery of obtaining the chalices and mermaid’s tear form the basis of the narrative - with Jack, as always, managing to skip between unfolding events whilst bringing the climax to a satisfactory – if not final conclusion.
Depp, as usual, brings to life the quirky and idiosyncratic Jack Sparrow as only he can. One problem however with this fourth instalment is that we’ve seen it all before. Even many of the set pieces are reminiscent of past efforts, including supernatural crew and pirate antagonist. Sure it all works well enough, but if you’ve seen the first three movies there is really nothing new. Oddly enough two of the former main characters played by Bloom and Knightly are not even mentioned – as if they never existed. Keith Richards however makes another cameo as Jack’s father, perhaps just to show that his well worn face has gotten even craggier. If this effort was meant to reboot the franchise then unfortunately it does not really succeed.
There is no disputing the talents of the ensemble cast and they don’t let us down, but somehow the plot just crawls along without anything to really excite. Quirky former characters such as Pintel and Ragetti are really missed as their comic relief might have lifted the dialogue somewhat. Even the climactic scene with attacking mermaids didn’t overly impress. The closing scenes leave little doubt that film five is on the drawing boards, and one can only hope that they rediscover the magic otherwise the franchise will be heading for Davey Jones’s locker faster than a chest full of treasure.
This Blu-ray is presented in the cinematic aspect of 2.40:1 using the MPEG-4 AVC codec at 1080p. Needless to say Disney has again produced a transfer that is excellent in all aspects, and is certainly in the top tier of discs that I’ve seen. Shadow detail is excellent, colours are vibrant and true, skin tones are perfect, blacks are deep and distinct, detail is amazing although as you’d expect this suffers slightly in dimly lit shots. Apart from some slight digital noise reduction that I noticed which softened the image somewhat (for example at 81:30) this is definitely a five star transfer on all technical counts. Although not a technical issue I must however comment on the fact that unlike the first three movies, On Stranger Tides does not have a jaw-dropping moment. Perhaps because a lot of the action happens in darkened surroundings I just didn’t get a sense of awe at what I was seeing. It could be because there have been many visually great titles recently, and so I’ve become a bit jaded. Irrespective of that you won’t be disappointed in what you see on screen.
There are various subtitles available on this disc. The English subtitles I sampled were easy to read and appeared accurate.
This is a dual layer 50gb disc but I could not see the layer change using my equipment.
As per the video, the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track included as default is outstanding. Everything is clearly defined - from dialogue, the wind in the palm trees, the lashing rain, the creaking of ships – it’s all there in your lounge room. Directional effects are excellent and the LFE track will have your subwoofer puffing to keep up. I really can’t think of any way to make it better without gratuitously inserting more scenes just to show off the audio. The bass is not as jaw-dropping as, for example, Thor on Blu-ray, but then it’s a different type of movie. As you’d expect the score by Hans Zimmer complements the on screen action perfectly. Just misses out on a perfect score because I was not in awe whilst listening – however it was close.
This audio track is reference quality.
|Surround Channel Use|
The distinctive and attractive menu moves around the Fountain of Youth map while the round parts rotate.
Although a bit self congratulatory the franchise newcomers, director Marshall and executive producer John DeLuca, speak freely throughout the movie touching on the film-making process including the challenges of 3D, set construction, and CGI development. Not surprisingly all the cast and crew are presented in glowing light, with particular praise lavished on Depp. Marshall makes most of the contributions with DeLuka more of a supporting commentator.
2.40:1 video aspect MPEG-4 AVC with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 320 Kb/s audio. A rather short selection of bloopers - some of which are amusing.
1.78:1 video aspect MPEG-4 AVC with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 320 Kb/s audio. Includes two shorts - "First Impressions" (1:02) and "To Catch A Mermaid" (1:04). Animated lego scenes themed from the movie.
Commencing after disc start-up is a preview for Cars 2. This is also accessible from the extras menu.
1.78:1 video aspect MPEG-4 AVC with Dolby Digital 5.1 at 640 Kb/s audio. An animated promotion for 3D television and Disney 3D titles hosted by the two characters from "The Lion King".
Anamorphically enhanced 2.40:1 DVD with Dolby Digital 5.1 at 384 Kb/s or Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kb/s audio. Extras include "Bloopers" and "Lego Pirates" as seen on the Blu-ray.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is available in the US with multiple versions of the release. There's a two disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and a five disc 3D release, which includes a 3D Blu-ray, the original Blu-ray, a DVD copy and a Digital Copy of the film. These have different language options to the reviewed version. Extras appear to include the same commentary, blooper reel and Lego short. An additional extra is Disney Second Screen which is advertised as "simultaneously explore exclusive interactive content with your iPad or computer as you watch the movie". The five disc set also appears to include additional featurettes - "Legends of Stranger Tides: Behind the scenes of casting and production", "In Search of the Fountain" – a look at the movie's concept of the Fountain of Youth, "Last Sail, First Voyage" – Ian McShane, Jerry Bruckheimer, and the crew talk about Blackbeard and show the actual transformation of the ship that was used for The Black Pearl into the Queen Anne's Revenge, "Under the Scene: Bringing Mermaids to Life", "Deleted and Extended Scenes", "Johnny Vs. Geoffrey" – Captain Jack and Captain Barbossa fight and occasionally team up. The UK version appears identical to the package reviewed.
If you are really keen then On Stranger Tides is also included in a fifteen disc four movie collection cased in an attractive treasure chest holder.
On Stranger Tides in Blu-ray is an entertaining film which suffers because of the excellence of its predecessors. It does not bring anything new to the franchise and the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the characters are starting to become a bit stale. That being said it is still a wonderful exercise in film making with outstanding attention to detail and a great cast. Both audio and video quality is at reference levels and only just miss out on perfect scores. Extras are poor by Blu-ray standards although some would find the "bonus" DVD a useful addition. Overall I’d class this Blu-ray as highly recommended - even if the plot is not as fresh and engaging as it could have been.
|DVD||Denon DVD-3910 and Panasonic BD-35, using HDMI output|
|Display||Panasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).|
|Amplification||denon AVR-4311 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp|
|Speakers||B&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub, Definitive Technology Supercube II Sub|