Captain Phillips – Steelbook (Blu-ray)

May 19, 2014 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Matt Malouf

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?

This “Mastered in 4K” transfer looks quite stunning. Clearly, not all of us have 4K TVs (I doubt many people have them, actually), but this is still a relatively flawless image. I’ve mentioned in some of my other steel-book updates that outside of the packaging the discs remain the same (most of the time). This is the same disc as the other versions, only in a new (and not to mention hard to find) packaging exclusive to Best Buy. Detail is strong throughout as well as colors and flesh tones. Sony has done justice to this film and fans will be more than pleased. The image is AVC encoded with a 2.40:1 ratio.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The DTS HD track delivers on all fronts. The film always has something going on and this track accompanies it well with strong surrounds and clear vocals. The score comes through strong as well. There are various shots fired and that gives the rear channels something to do. Waves splashing add some nice depth to a number of scenes. Overall, this is a trouble free track that supports the film and the strong transfer well.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This is a Best Buy exclusive packaging that also includes a DVD copy and digital copy code. Steel-book fans will enjoy this as it offers some real nice cover art with the two ships on opposite ends of the case and the water between them. The back of the case shows a couple of pirates jumping on the boat. There’s also inner art as well. The DVD disc is tucked underneath the Blu-ray disc. As mentioned, the features and disc itself are otherwise identical to the standard version out there.

  • Audio Commentary – Paul Greengrass provides a running track for the film. It’s informative and fans will want to give it a listen.
  • Capturing Captain Philips – This is broken into three separate features (Embarkation, Full Ahead, and Stand Fast). A lot of ground is covered across these three features and provide a good background on the making of the film.
  • Previews
  • DVD/Digital Copy

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