Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (19th June 2007).
The Film

I've never been to Walt Disney World and never had the chance to go on the "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride, but even if I were given the chance I would probably pass. Pirates don't do it for me, I was never fascinated by them, never cared about their history, I was uninterested. Then I heard that Hollywood Mega-Schlock producer Jerry Bruckheimer along with Disney where going to turn the theme park ride into a motion picture I nearly threw up. I thought that this was the worst and possibility the dumbest idea ever and that Disney and Bruckheimer where out of their minds. Not only because it was a film based on a ride of all things but also that it was a pirate movie, there was a time when Hollywood made these types of films all the time but rising costs and plummeting interest sent this format to the grave. There was one recent attempt to bring back the swashbuckling pirate adventure films back into the mainstream audience consciousness with "Cutthroat Island" (1995), which bankrupted the then powerful Carcolco studios (responsible for some of the late 80's and 90's biggest hits including T2, Basic Instinct, Total Recall and the Rambo Trilogy).

So "Pirates of the Caribbean" initially had a lot of naysayers including those in the Hollywood community. It was a project that was certainly set for disaster, but there where some shining rays of light that helped it float months before it was even released. With the announcement of the cast skeptics including myself stated to think that maybe this was a worthwhile project actors such as Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom and Jonathan Pryce (Keira Knightley was also announced by I didn't know who she was back then I hadn't seen "Bend it Like Beckham" (2002) yet). This list was certainly promising. So I waited with baited breath until I got the chance to see it when it opened and boy was I in for a surprise.

"Pirates", was the most fun I had in the cinemas in a long time, the film was wonderfully quirky with it's nice brand of humor, the action pieces where exhilarating and exciting to watch (especially the Black Pearl chasing the Interceptor sequence), the comical array of characters where always a joy to watch, especially Depp's portrayal as Captain Jack Sparrow (which deservedly earned him both a Golden Globe and an Oscar nominations) But what got me was that this Pirate films had a story (albeit, not a strong one, but a story non-the-less)! It just wasn't your average brainless blow em' up Bruckheimer action film.
The Governor's daughter Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) is kidnapped by the Captain Barbossa's men (Geoffrey Rush). Elizabeth, who happens to have a pirate coin in her possession, is mistaken to be the child of a long lost ship mate Bootstrap Bill. The Pirates need the last coin of the cursed treasure and the blood of the child to break a curse that has plagued them for years.
Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth's childhood friend in an attempt to save her reluctantly teams up with Pirate Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Sparrow and Barbossa's relationship goes back a long way, when he was Captain of the Black Pearl until his first mate Barbossa seized control of the ship and left Jack to die on an isolated island. Jack is the only one who can track the Pearl to its place of birth and so the adventure begins!

Not only are the performances amazing but also just about every aspect of this film works. The action is spectacular, the photography is beautiful, the sets and costumes are perfect and the effects are the best that ILM has to offer and will certainly blow you away.

Now this film is not perfect, the music wasn't anything new it reeked of Bruckheimer-esque scores (just listen to the music for Michael Bay's films and compare it to Pirates there isn't much difference) and there where some extremely cheesy lines mainly from Bloom and finally the Governor's daughter turned heroine was a little unbelievable especially for the time period, but it does give something for the girls to cheer for in case Bloom and Depp weren't enough.
Despite these minor quibbles this was an adventure that rocks the boat. I am now a self-confessed pirate fan. I would recommend this film to anyone of all ages.


It appears that around 9 minutes of footage from this disc has been misframed, you can check out comparisons between the DVD and the Blu-ray disc over at the AVSforum here and also here.
I've checked the disc and can confirm that the problem does exists, hopefully Buena Vista can re-press this film and offer replacements.

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.40:1 this high-definition transfer is presented in full 1080p at 24/fps and created using AVC MPEG-4 compression. The resulting image is pure magic, the image is sharp and finely detailed from the minute textures on costumes to the intricate patterns on swords can be seen in all its beauty to the wide expanse of the oceans. This transfer is brilliantly balanced with epic detail on this 50GB disc that allows the film to breath with exceptionally high bit-rates. Color saturation is spot on with no bleeding; colors are lush, vibrant and beautifully rendered from the deep reds of the naval officer's uniforms to the deep blues of the water. Equally blacks are rich and bold with very little noise, some film grain is evident in certain scenes but this only adds to the weight of the film stock used and helps create a richer film-like atmosphere, otherwise it would appear too artificial. Buena Vista have set a new standard in high-definition transfer with this reference quality image that will please every cinaphile that owns an high-definition set-up.


This film includes four audio tracks, an English uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround track at 24-bit 6.9 Mbps as well as an English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track mastered at 640 Kbps along with standard Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in French and Spanish. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its uncompressed PCM 5.1 track and much like the phenomenally brilliant image the sound is equally impressive with a rich mix that creates a total immersion experience when watching the film. From the clean and crisp dialogue to the subtle ambient sounds and the powerful bass and aggressive action sounds this track displays an impressive range. As far as PCM tracks go this is a new gem in the audio world and I'm glad I have the means to access this uncompressed track, it's pure indulgence.

Optional subtitles are also included in English for the hearing impaired, French and Spanish.


Buena Vista has crammed this 2-disc set with a plethora of extras that includes no less than three audio commentaries, a new documentary, bonus trailers, plus all the original DVD extras such as the 9-part documentary, "Fly-on-the-Set" clips, video dairies, an interactive feature, some bloopers, a series of deleted scenes, ten featurettes including the ones ported over from the "Lost Disc" as well as an intensive series of image galleries. Below is a closer look at these supplements broken down per disc.


The first audio commentary you will find is with director Gore Verbinski and actor Johnny Depp. Overall this is a good commentary, the two cover a few basics about the production and there seems to be a lot of back patting going on. This could have been a much better track had they stopped with the: Gore to Johnny - "Oh you're great" Johnny to Gore "No, no you're great, you've done a wonderful job" and let us in on some of the finer details of making a film of this scope. Although entertaining at times this track left a lot to be desired.

The second audio commentary track we have features the screenwriters Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie and Jay Wolpert. This is a great track to listen to, especially if you are an aspiring writer or just interested in the screenwriting process. These guys talk about the difficulty in creating a storyline and most importantly characters and a plot based on a theme park attraction. They also talk in detail about the development process and how Gore's vision brought the words on the page to life. There are never any dull moments in this track, it will keep you entertained and informed all the way through.

The final audio commentary track is not feature-length but is a selected scene commentary that involves producer Jerry Bruckheimer, actress Keira Knightley and actor Jack Davenport. I was a bit disappointed with the Knightley / Davenport commentary, it's useless Davenport hardly says anything and the rest is just Knightley blabbing on and on about random uninteresting things like describing what is happening on screen or making general comments about how cute some of her co-stars are. They just as well should have left this track off the disc, as it doesn't add anything of value what so ever. You also have the option of a selected scene Bruckheimer track, which is not as useless as the track above. Bruckheimer talks about casting the film and tells the viewer what a producer actually does.

Next up is an all new interactive feature entitled "Scoundrels of the Sea" this is a trivia track with segments which can be played individually within the film itself or you can access the feature from the disc's main menu and played all together and runs for 60 minutes. This is basically an interactive documentary presented in full 1080p that explores various aspects of Pirate lore. Depending on your player you may need to update your firmware to access this feature but it's well worth the effort especially when watching it with the film as the various sequences pop up.

Also on disc one are a series of HD previews for "Invincible" which runs for which runs for 2 minutes 33 seconds, "The Guardian" which runs for 2 minutes 30 seconds and also "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" theatrical trailer which runs for 2 minutes 30 seconds.

Finally this first disc also includes a "Movie Showcase" which jumps to three key reference scenes that show off the high-definition quality.


First we have 37 minute 55 second documentary entitled "An Epic At Sea" this is a 9 part documentary that begins with an introduction to the film and covers the actors, locations, production design, the ships, make-up / wardrobe, stunts / swords, visual effects and the premiere of the film. For just under 40 minutes this is a very in-depths look at each of those aspects of the film. Mixed with an equal balance of informative interviews, behind-the-scenes and clips form the film what we have here is a satisfying look at what it takes to make a period film today.

Now we get to one of my favorite extras and one I wish where on more discs. "Fly on the Set" clips are next and include eight sequences that feature behind-the-scenes footage that you get to peek at. You get to see how the actors and crew block, set-up and shoot scenes, they include: "Town Attack" which runs for 4 minutes 52 seconds and takes a look at the Black Pearl assault on the town, "Tortuga" which runs for 3 minutes 28 seconds and looks at the filming of the pirate town, "Blacksmith Shop" runs for 4 minutes 8 seconds and looks at the sword fight between Will and Jack in the shop, "The Cave" which runs for 3 minutes 59 seconds looks at the cave fight sequence, "Jack's hanging" runs for 4 minutes 23 seconds and looks at the sequence where Jack escapes death, also included are the "Fly on the Set" clips from the "Lost Disc" which include "The Dock" which runs for 3 minutes 14 seconds and shows us the complicated filming of the sequence after Jack saves Elizabeth from drowning, "The Tavern" which runs for 6 minutes 26 seconds and shows us the filming of the tavern fight with the rowdy extras and finally "The Plank" which runs for 4 minutes 49 seconds and shows us the filming of the plank sequences with both Elizabeth and Jack.
If you are interested in what it's like to be on a film set then this is an extra you will certainly like. You can watch them all at once or select them individually from the sub-menu.

Three video diaries follow and include the "Producer's Photo Diary" which runs for 4 minutes 18 seconds, "Diary of a Pirate" which runs for 9 minutes 40 seconds and "Diary of a Ship" which runs for 11 minutes 3 seconds. The first features some photos taken on the set by Bruckheimer and feature his comments over the photos.
The second "Diary of a Pirate" is a short video diary kept by actor Lee Arenberg. This follows Lee and gives the viewer a first hand look at what it was like being an actor on this film and we also get to spend some time off the set as well. This is a nice curiosity piece.
The final diary "Diary of a Ship" chronicles the journey of the replica ship "The Lady Washington" from California to the Caribbean. "The Lady Washington" was refitted and repainted to play the role of "The Interceptor" in the film. Another nice curiosity piece that gives us a first hand look at what it's like to be apart of a ship's crew and the trouble they went to make the journey.

Next up is the interactive feature entitled "Below Deck: An Interactive History Of Pirates" This is a sort of historical extra that allows you to explore the world of pirates and learn facts about their lives and time period. The feature is presented by historian David Cordingly, to be honest I haven't spent a lot of time exploring this extra but after having skimmed through a few topics it certainly is an extra worth exploring and is quite educational as well, you will learn a few things that you didn't know about pirates through this.

Next we have around 3 minutes 12 seconds of bloopers. Made of mistakes or improvisations gone bad, the booklet described them as being "absolutely wild", I disagree these bloopers are average at best. Although it's a nice this doesn't add anything of real value to this disc like some of the other extras listed above.

Following that we have 19 deleted scenes which run for a total of 19 minutes 14 seconds, although they are listed as being deleted scenes they are more like extended scenes. You can select to view them separately or you have the option to play all. These scenes include:

1. "Meet Will Turner" This is a slight extension to an already existing scene in the film. It's a longer introduction to Will, where we see him in the Governor's hallway awaiting to present him with the sword he crafted.
2. "Carriage Ride" deleted scene of Elizabeth and her father riding off to the ceremony for Norrington
3. "A Change In The Wind" an extension to an already existing scene in the film. We see longer shots of the wind changing after Elizabeth has fallen in the water.
4. "Only One Shot" an extension to an already existing scene in the film. Here we have some brief dialogue exchange between Jack and Will after he breaks Jack out of the jail.
5. "Peep Show" a deleted scene where Pintel and Ragetti spy on Elizabeth putting on the red dress on the Black Pearl.
6. "All Is Well" an extension to an already existing scene in the film, this just features some more dialogue on Tortuga as Jack and Will walk the street.
7. "Make It Last" an extension to an already existing scene in the film, this scene features more dialogue in the pub on Tortuga.
8. "A Bit Of A Stick" an extension to an already existing scene in the film, more Will in Tortuga, this just acting like a fool.
9. "It's Begun" an extension to an already existing scene in the film. Features more dialogue between Jack and Will as they paddle through the cave of the Isle De Muerte to save Elizabeth.
10. "The French" an extension to an already existing scene in the film, Jack gets caught by the Pirates after he explains that "Parlay" originated from the French he also tells of other things that were invented by the French like Mayonnaise.
11. "Not All That Big" an extension to an already existing scene in the film, this scene features more of Jack and Elizabeth stranded on the island.
12. "No Truth At All" an extension to an already existing scene in the film, more of Jack and Elizabeth on the island.
13. "Accepting The Proposal" a deleted scene where Elizabeth and Norrington talk on the deck of the Interceptor about the acceptance of marriage, Norrington suspects it was hasty.
14. "Peas In A Pod" a deleted scene where Jack and Elizabeth share a scene on the deck of the Interceptor.
15. "Take A Walk" an extension to an already existing scene in the film, this is just a longer cut of the pirates sneak attack on the awaiting soldiers near the end of the film.
16. "Let Them Eat Cake" an extension to an already existing scene in the film, a longer cut of the scene of the two pirates deciding what to eat first when the curse is lifted.
17. "The Immortal Captain Jack" (1:03): an extension to an already existing scene in the film, but here we have Jack removing the curse instead of using Will's blood.
18. "Good Luck" an extension to an already existing scene in the film, where the parrot shits on the soldier, in this longer cut we see the other soldier standing next to him also gets shat on.
19. "Happy Ending" an extension to the ending where we have Norrington with some additional dialogue.

These scenes are presented in various ratios and are non-anamorphic. The image quality is rather good though. While it's nice to have these scenes included in the extras it would have made sense to have included an optional audio commentary by the film's director Gore Verbinski to help explain why these scenes were omitted from the final version of the film.

Our next extra to explore is a short featurette entitled "Moonlight Serenade Scene Progression" which runs for 6 minutes 32 seconds, this is just a shot for shot progression of the effects in the scene where Barbossa reveals to Elizabeth that they are cursed. The ILM staffers go through the process of creating the digital effects to help sell this scene. An interesting bonus that gives the viewer a brief, albeit informative look at how a scene like is created with the help of computer graphics.

Next we have something right from the Disney Archives, a featurette entitled "Pirates In The Parks: Walt Disney's Wonderful World Of Color" which runs for 17 minutes. This 1968 made for TV special is a promotional short about the creating of the at the time new "Pirates of the Caribbean" theme park ride. This is a nice piece of vintage nostalgia that also gives the viewer an idea about the origins of what inspired the film.

Next we have nine comprehensive image galleries that features 290 stills that include: "Inspiration for the film", "Concept Art", "Storyboards", "Costumes", "Production" and "Publicity". Much like previous 2-disc releases Buena Vista provides wonderful reference material such as this that help viewers understand the creative process in developing such a mammoth film production.

Once you've navigated through the major lot of extras there's still more to see, what follows are the extras from the bonus "Lost Disc" which includes an additional eight featurettes:

"Becoming Captain Jack" is the first featurette ported over from the "Lost Disc" and runs for 7 minutes 19 seconds, this takes a brief yet intimate look at how Depp created the character and developed his mannerism as well as delves into the character's motivations as the rest of the key cast and crew comment on what he's created.

"Becoming Barbossa" is the second featurette ported over from the "Lost Disc" and runs for 5 minutes 31 seconds, much like the previous piece this takes a look at how character actor Geoffrey Rush transformed into the pirate Captain, on the character and his devious logic plus the key cast and crew tell us what a joy it is working with Rush and what he brought to the production.

Next up from the "Lost Disc" is "Thar She Blows!" a featurette which runs for 6 minutes 17 seconds and takes a look at the ILM miniatures crew as they created ΒΌ scale replicas of the "Interceptor" ship for the dramatic storm sequence as well as blowing it up in front of a green screen.

"The Monkey's Name Is Jack" is the fourth featurette ported from the "Lost Disc" set of extras and runs for 4 minutes 34 seconds. This takes a closer look at Levi the monkey that played Jack, Barbosa's pet in the film and having to train him to essentially act and remain focused on the set.

Following that is the fifth extras ported from the "Lost Disc" entitled "Sneak Attack Animatic" this featurette runs for 4 minutes 15 seconds and is the complete pre-visualization clip created for the pirate attack from underwater sequence in the film. This helped crew get an understanding of what the director was after in this scene.

"Pirates Around The World" is the sixth extra ported from the "Lost Disc" and is a featurette that runs for 4 minutes 10 seconds and takes a look at the various language dubs created for the film's release and they are in original English, French Canadian, Thai, Castilian, Russian, Portuguese, Italian, Latin Spanish, German, French and Japanese.

"Spirit Of The Ride" is next and the seventh featurette ported form the "Lost Disc" which runs for 7 minutes 11 seconds, this clip takes a look at the original theme park attraction and what made it so special. The cast and crew share their memories of the ride and talk about creating a film based on the ride while carrying on the spirit of the ride throughout.

Finally the disc rounds off with the eighth featurette ported from the "Lost Disc" entitled "Dead Men Tell No Tales - The History of the Attraction" which runs for 13 minutes 55 seconds and takes a look at what the original Pirates ride was going to be and its evolution into a full fledged audio-animatronic ride.


This Blu-ray 2-disc set is packaged in a standard Blu-ray case that is housed in a cardboard slip-cover.


Just like the Disney ride itself this film is also a thrilling adventure that will entertain just about everyone. Wonderful quirky performances and epic action set pieces add to the charm and enjoyment factor. Buena Vista has given us a reference quality high-definition transfer and an equally superb PCM sound track. Although there are a lot of extras some are top notch and are a welcomed addition to the Blu-ray disc, although there are a few that add very little value. I would recommend this film to anyone, especially those that have a sense of adventure!

The Film: A Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: A+ Overall: A+


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