Cover Art and Menu:
We’ve been looking at this DVD cover for a few years, minus the blu-ray additions. It’s functional and captures the spirit of the swashbuckling trilogy, so I kind of like it. It’s got the slip cover with that slick metallic look, which I don’t really understand the purpose of, but hey, it’s shiny and stuff.
The menus, however, have been jazzed up for the new Blu-ray version. We are honored with the presence of a friendly talking pirate skull host who says cute things and gives the whole thing a very Yo Ho Ho atmosphere.
- 19 Deleted & Alternate Scenes – Excellent collection of deleted and long version scenes that did not make the end cut. One of these actually tells a lot more about Captain Jack and his life as a pirate. Some scenes are just a few seconds longer, presumably cut to trim time or to keep things from being repetitive.
- NEW** Scoundrels At Sea Build Your Own Pirate History – This is a more interactive extra where you can choose the content of the features you want to watch. You can just watch the list of documentaries, which are in full HD, from a menu if you want to skip the interactivity.
- Blooper Reel – This is a great little nugget for those of us who love to see those nutty famous people screw up.
- Multiple Audio Commentaries: Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp; Jerry Bruckheimer; Keira Knightley and Jack Davenport; Writers Ted Elliot & Terry Rossio and Stuart Beattie and Jay Wolpert – FANTASTIC!! Johnny Depp along with director Gore Verbinski chat it up in what I would say is what a commentary should be. I like the technical stuff, which they touch on. I like the personal stuff, which they discuss, including a glimpse into some tension between the the two of them. I like the explanations about how a scene came to be, or how a line was born, and they really fill in a lot of those details that film addicts like us crave. The commentary by Keira Knightley and Jack Davenport is funny, but cut into segments so you don’t get the full movie with them talking about things. What they do say is pretty cheeky, so it’s a fun one to listen to.
- “An Epic At Sea”: The Making of Pirates – This is a good journal of the making of the film from costumes to characters to behind the scenes, and a close look at the Caribbean locations. The tid bits are all separate little clips, however, they made the brilliant move of adding a Play All feature. Play ALL is a chunk of DVD gold for me!
- “Moonlight Serenade”: Scene Progression – This film is loaded with CGI of the best kind (The kind that does not look like crap. Use DareDevil as case in point for crappy CGI), and this shows how they put together some of the most heavily computer enhanced scenes, cursed pirates and all. If you don’t like to expose the man behind the curtain, just skip this one. But, if you love to see the mechanics of how movie worlds are created for us to get lost in, crank this one up and enjoy.
- “Below Deck”: An Interactive History of Pirates – If I were you, I would not opt to do the fully interactive version of this little section because it can take a while to search the ship and watch all of the cut scenes. It’s cute, but I just cut to the slimmed down arrangement. A historian discusses the past, myth and reality of pirates. He explains what is real and what is fabricated through the ages.
- “Fly on the Set”: Featurette – This is a collection of video clips from behind the camera. A look at the big picture of the entire crew and modern day equipment mixed in with the surreal world created for Jack Sparrow and his pirate friends to live in.
- “Diary of a Pirate” – Lee Arenberg, who plays one of the comic relief pirates, takes a video camera around with him capturing a video diary of the experience of making this massive film. An up close and personal, although brief, look at what it’s like as an actor in the mix of such a huge production.
- “Diary of a Ship” Video Journal – One of the ships is real and this is a look at how they got this historic reproduction hundreds of miles from its home, through the Panama Canal and finally to the Carribean where it becomes one of the stars of the show.
- Producer’s Diary with Jerry Bruckheimer – More behind the scenes brought to us by the man himself…Bruckheimer. He is a side lines photographer so he presents several of his pictures with commentary and more background info about the making of the film.
- Image Galleries – Drawings and paintings of cursed pirates, costumes, sets, etc.
- Script Viewer – This is an up and coming feature that I hope to see on more DVDs. You can watch the movie while the script scrolls past to the side. You can see how the scenes play out on the page while watching the final cut of the movie to compare.
- Storyboard Viewer – Another cool feature. You can watch the full movie while storyboard drawings to the side change from scene to scene, shot to shot. A really nice way to see the original vision of the director played out directly along side the final version of the film.
- Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color – An original Disney production that takes us from the conception of the ride to a full tour through the attraction when it was first built. You will see a lot of little details on the ride that are put in the film.
- The Lost Disc Features – This is contents of the “lost disc” special set that came out in the second version of the Pirates standard DVD. A lot of making of and behind the scenes, even more than you get from the above listed extras.
The Movie: 9/10
NOTE – This is the original review I wrote way back when Pirates came out on DVD. It’s untouched by modern hands and without the benefit of a proportionately aged perspective. Enjoy.
Having never been to any Disney theme park, my knowledge of The Pirates of the Caribbean is limited to this Bruckheimer production. After watching the DVD extras and seeing Mr. Disney himself show us around the original models and sketches of the attraction I have a better understanding of where the idea came from, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is just a film version of the ride.
A good story is at the heart of any movie that captures my imagination and gets my attention. Pirates of the Caribbean does more than capture my imagination, it takes us all on an adventure. I’m a huge fan of The Goonies, so you must know that I love the epic tales of action and adventure. Pirates of the Caribbean grabbed me from the opening scene when the Interceptor, a British naval ship, gently breaks through an ominous fog and barrels toward us with that “get ready!” kind of look.
Am I hypnotized by Johnny Depp’s strange but alluring style, Geoffrey Rush’s evil goodness, Keira Knightley’s…um, well, Keira Knightley? Oh yes, all of the above. I am not ashamed to say that I gave myself over to the sword fights and my desire to experience a real swashbuckling adventure.
I remember when I watched My Favorite Year, starring Peter O’Toole. He played an actor who was a somewhat has been swashbuckling hero as the end of the era was closing in on him. I actually remember thinking that I wished I had been around when the cinematic pirates were at their peak. Bruckheimer made that twenty year wish come true.
I knew from the opening title screen with the bigger than life music behind it that I just wanted to sit back and see it through the eyes of someone not so jaded by decades of watching movies. I took a deep breath and prepared myself for anything.
With a well choreographed beginning, not too bold not to slow, it was likened to the climb of a roller coaster. You feel the tide of excitement coming, but you are are not sure when the big drop it will hit. We are quickly introduced to the idea that pirates are bad. A burning ship, a secret pirate medallion, the British naval fleet determined to rid the open seas of such scourge, it all sparks a serious desire to get down to business and meet the pirates even more! We all know we will love the pirates. It’s so deeply woven into our mythologies and tall tales that we can’t help but be impressed, dare I say, jealous of their colorful clothes, filthy skin, bad teeth, and nerves of steel.
Enter Captain Jack Sparrow, he has a legend that follows him around like the stink of his bad breath. Johnny Depp plays Sparrow as perpetually inebriated, but with a touch of civility that is charming without being sappy. Keira Knightley plays a vulnerable but oh-so-tough lass who not only takes up arms against a fleet of cursed pirates, but she suffers the pain of wearing one of the most insidious inventions ever to hit the planet, a corset. Knightley is so good, and I mean that. She is not just a pretty face, she takes her role seriously even when she is surrounded by surreal and ghostly skeletal pirates. She brings a maturity to her character that surpasses her real life age of 17 years.
Orlando Bloom steps in with a similar innocence and bravery that steels almost every scene he is in. So many big and beautiful performances in this movie, it’s a wonder no one gets lost in the fray. Bloom plays a real hero of a guy who never takes a back seat to Depp’s slurry jawed Sparrow nor McKnight’s portrayal of a strong and beautiful daughter of the Governor.
Jack Davenport plays a repressed naval officer who has aspirations to marry our beloved Ms. Swan. He adds the serious and more grounded touch to the story, even though Davenport is a very funny actor, by balancing against the comic offerings of Jack Sparrow (Depp), the dramatic heroism of Will Turner (Bloom), and the tough but lovely Elizabeth Swan (Knightley).
And, let’s not forget Jeffrey Rush’s absolutely spot on performance as the cursed Captain Barbosa. Long grungy fingernails, decaying skin, perfectly frightening laugh, and creepy monkey all bring some spice to Rush’s character, though he doesn’t need any help, he is quite scary on his own.
What about the Black Pearl? She’s a ship with black, torn sails, a dark ominous presence and a cursed crew. She is as much a character in the film as anybody else. Take away the legend of the Black Pearl, her constant fog, and dark foreboding sound track and you will leave a huge gap in the story.
The special effects are some of the best I have ever seen, so that has to be mentioned. To see the pirates pass through streams of moonlight and seamlessly change from human to skeleton is something to behold, but special effects are not the only thing that have made this movie so endlessly watch able.
It all comes together to bring us a new and improved tale of betrayal, greed and romance and then is carefully drapes it over every character in the film. Call me crazy, but even the most amazing CGI, costumes and special effects can be a waste of time if the cast is less than stellar. The story is so well written that it is the wind behind the sails that carries this movie into modern film history. However, the real power comes from the hundreds of extras and peripheral characters all the way up to the principal players, every single one of whom rip through the screen and deliver us to a world where curses are real and hidden treasures do exist.
It’s difficult to explain to people who have no appreciation of these types of film just how important they really are. To have a huge production with every movie trick in the book meant to entertain and hypnotize us into loving it is part of the magic of motion pictures. We can’t expect all films to be intellectually challenging or vehicles for political and social change or stimulation. We all want to escape and take an adventure once in a while. Pirates are firmly planted in the cultural history of the whole world and will forever intrigue us. Why not toss in some flashy special effects, a great story, top notch talent, good writing and all the glamour of a Hollywood production?
Put it all on a DVD with so many extras it’s a full day’s worth of entertainment and then make it affordable for anyone’s collection. That is what I call pleasing the masses.
If you scoff at the imperfections, the glitches in continuity and whatever else you feel necessary to pick on, well, take your cynicism somewhere else bub….the rest of us would like to have a good time if you don’t mind!
The new-fangled Blu-ray discs run about 30 bucks a piece. Too much. The extras are almost the same, the movie is the same, just looks better. I know, IT’S BLU-RAY!!! But geez, I can rent it for a couple dollars and have the rest of the money to spend on something frivolous like food or gas for my car.
Video & Audio: (By Ascully): 9/10
We recently went to see Pirates 3 at the theatre (right after watching Pirates 1 & 2 this week) and watching it in that setting I had a revelation of how awesome Blu-Ray discs are. Pirates in HD is stunning. The only thing the theatre had over the quality of the home presentation is the size of the screen. The theatre experience with its scratchy picture and uneven sound not to mention the people who were talking on the cell phone right behind us, really made me appreciate how far home entertainment has come. It amplifies how much less attractive the proposition of leaving the house to go to the local flea pit (i.e. theater) is.Pirates is a true showcase disc. Disney really have pulled out all of the stops here, from the 1080P video to the awesome Dolby 5.1 soundtrack every creak of the Black Pearl cutting its way through the deep is rendered in perfect clarity. Pirates 1 is easily the best of the three movies for me, so if you do pick up one Blu-Ray disc this month make sure it has the words Black Pearl on it.
Overall Score 8/10