Captain Phillips (Blu-ray)

January 20, 2014 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

About eight years ago Director Paul Greengrass gave us perhaps one of the best movies about September 11th.  It was aptly-titled United 93 and it told the tale of the passengers on that flight and what might have happened on that fateful day.  However it might be said that Greengrass is better-known for his collaborations with actor Matt Damon (someone who Tom Hanks called upon before the shoot for Captain Phillips started) as he took the reigns from Director Doug Liman with the Bourne movies.  What’s always attracted me to his work is his style and action. He often uses handheld cameras which, while distracting, seem to get you right in the face of the action.  And so it was that he and star of stars Tom Hanks teamed up for Captain Phillips, the true story of a hijacked cargo ship.  I have to imagine that when working with Tom Hanks, you’re working with one of the more professional actors out there.  Nevertheless, this teaming showed that neither have lost their respective touches. Let’s take a look.

Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) is a grizzled veteran and a consummate professional. He runs a tight ship and insists on the best from his crew.  However when doing a rather routine run, he very quickly deduces that his ship is being sought after by a group of Somali pirates.  Taking all the necessary steps, he tries his best to thwart them, but it’s not meant to be. Led by Muse (Barkhad Abdi), they demand money among other things. But Phillips is one step ahead of them, claiming the ship is dead in the water and he’s wisely hid his crew in the engine room. With help on the way, Muse and his crew are forced to retreat in a lifeboat, but not before taking Phillips hostage. Things go from bad to worse when the Navy shows up and it becomes a standoff.  Is all hope lost or is there a light at the end of the tunnel for Captain Phillips?

If you’re familiar with this story then you know the answer to that question. I, however won’t be so bold as to ruin the ending in this review.  Captain Phillips is widely regarded as one of the better movies of 2013, with strong performances by Barkhad Adbi and Tom Hanks. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, though both Paul Greengrass and Tom Hanks were snubbed for their respective roles. Is there no justice in the world?  You don’t snub Tom Hanks!  Admittedly I think it’s Hanks’ finest work since 2000’s Cast Away, but then again I’m not a voting member of the Academy. Suffice it to say that the film moves at a fast pace and the 134 minutes seem to simply fly by.  Better yet, this story is all true. And while we think of pirates wearing eye patches and wielding swords, this is a very real threat.  Captain Phillips manages to do something that many movies try to do (and fail), it’s really a great, all around film and is not to be missed.

Video: How’s it look?

Coming to Blu-ray with a 2.40:1 AVC HD image, Captain Phillips looks the part. This embodies everything that makes Blu-ray a great format.  Detail is top notch, we can see the little knobs and switches that occupy the bridge.  Hanks’ grey hair in his goatee is clearly visible and later the beads of sweat as the movie escalates.  Colors are warm and natural, even considering that the movie takes place on the rather emotionless sea.   Like so many other new to Blu-ray movies, there’s really nothing wrong with the transfer and very little to complain about.  It’s a stunning effort and one that will impress its audience.

Audio: How’s it sound?

There’s something about a movie that takes place at sea: the crashing of the waves, the churning of the propeller and the general ambiance that simply isn’t possible anywhere else.  Captain Phillips sports a very robust DTS HD Master Audio mix that delivers on all levels.  We’re treated to a variety of sounds that will utilize any number of your speakers.  Hanks’ booming voice, complete with Vermont accent, comes through in the utmost quality.  Gunshots are fired – they resonate.  The entire film seems to have a very taut, tense feeling to it and it’s due in no small part to the amazing soundtrack and score by Henry Jackman.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Though it doesn’t contain a lot of extras, the ones included are fairly worth the price of admission (so to speak).

  • Audio Commentary – Director Paul Greengrass delivers a very good commentary track. Granted his accent makes a few things a bit hard to decipher, but his commitment to the project, what initially drew him to it and working with Tom Hanks are all covered. This is a great and informative track.
  • Capturing Captain Phillips – Three segments combine to make a very informative look at the film.
      Embarkation – “Embarkation” takes a look at the story itself, the history of piracy on the seas and the actual working ship used in the film.

      Full Ahead – “Full Ahead” is more of a “hands on” approach with the shots that take place during a given day, the challenge of shooting on a working ship and some of the stunts and technical aspects of the movie.

      Stand Fast – “Stand Fast” focuses on the lifeboat segment, some of the challenges of that, the military and even shooting the ending.

  • DVD/UltraViolet Copy

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