Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

I’m consistently amazed at the entire “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. I mean, look at it. We’ve got four movies that have grossed and merchandised billions of dollars over the last several years and it’s all stemmed from a ride at a Disney theme park. I say again – amazing. Odds are that if you’ve, well, been alive the past decade you’ve no doubt heard of Johnny Depp and the aforementioned “Pirates of the Carribean” films. If you haven’t, I highly doubt you’re reading this review at the moment. Depp embodies his character of Capt. Jack Sparrow like no other, borrowing heavily from Keith Richards and throwing in his own little nuances along the way. Until this fourth installment, he’d had sidekicks played by Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom. They’ve both gone their separate ways in this film (can anyone tell me why?) but it’s of no consequence. Depp is as entertaining as ever as he once again puts on the false teeth, dreadlocks and infuses our vernacular with the word “savvy.”

This time around we catch up with Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) as he’s eluding some British soldiers. He hears through the grapevine that someone is going around using his name and likeness to recruit a crew of men. After a bit of investigating he learns that this person is Angelica (Penelope Cruz), a woman from his past and someone who he didn’t part with on the best of terms. Jack is taken prisoner and he’s told that her (Angelica’s) father, Blackbeard (Ian McShane), has a curse on him and that they need to find Ponce de Leon’s “Fountain of Youth” to save his life. Jack is one of the few who knows the location of the fountain of youth and he’s thereby forced to guide them there. We also meet our old friend Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) who’s been hired by King George to beat Jack and crew to the fountain. Along the way there be much fighting and many a mermaid. Aye.

I’ll be real honest here, a few of these “Pirates of the Carribean” movies kind of run together for me. If you showed me a still from any four of the films, I’d have a tough time telling you which one it came from. Still, I can’t help but admit that they’re entertaining! They really are. Depp embodies the role of Jack Sparrow with so much character that he’s impossible not to enjoy. Yes, we might have lost Bloom and Knightley but they were easily replaced by Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane and the always-entertaining Geoffrey Rush. The “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise might be slowing down just a tad, but the movie still managed to make over a billion dollars around the world (and that’s discounting all the marketing and promotions). I don’t think that Disney will let this ship sink anytime soon.

Video: How does it look?

It’s no secret that this title is perhaps the biggest title of the year for Disney and that’s being said in a year when “The Lion King” has also been released by the same studio. As with the other three “Pirates” films, this one shines throughout. The 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer is just about as good as they come with only the slightest in errors that prevent it from attaining a perfect score. The movie is long and though some films suffer with their longer running times, this one seems consistently good from beginning to end. Detail is impeccable, showing the strands in Jack’s hair, the black of his teeth and the detail of everything in between. Contrast is amazing that showcases the color palette used here. There are some darker scenes towards the end of the film and while I could be talked into ignoring the few blips that I noticed, I just couldn’t do it. Still, there’s no doubt that this is one impressive-looking picture and I’m hard-pressed to find much of anything to comment negatively on.

Audio: How does it sound?

Now the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is perfect. I mean it. Perfect. The previous three films in the franchise all share this trait as well and be it cannons going off, mermaids shrieking in the ocean or Depp’s slurry speech – it all sounds good. The thing that really impressed me was the use of all the channels. I mean, it’s like each channel gets equal time in this film. The surrounds never seem to slow down, always adding some sort of depth to any and all scenes. The LFE are particularly active throughout and the center channel shoulders the brunt of the dialogue. I suppose I can go on and continue to give this soundtrack some more accolades, but why? This is what you bought your home theater for.

Supplements: What are the extras?

About the only thing negative that could be said about this release is the surprising lack of supplements found on the discs. We get an audio commentary with director Rob Marshall and John DeLuca as they dish on the physical challenge of the shoot, the set and costume designs. Compared to the film itself this track is a bit lackluster, but if you’re a die-hard fan – it’s there. “Bloopers of the Caribbean” is just that, a series of outtakes. We wrap up with “Lego Pirates of the Caribbean” which is five shorts done in “Lego” style, re-creating some scenes from the film. There’s a second disc that’s a standard DVD of the film as well as a digital copy for your portable device.

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