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There'll be dangers along the way...
firstly mermaids, zombies... Blackbeard.

The PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movie franchise has always delivered a rollicking good time for moviegoers, who were able to bask in excesses that the series built atop a solid foundation of swashbuckling, the supernatural, romance and a healthy dose of comedy. While the production values remain at the top of the line, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES ($40) scales back on the excess of the second and third installments, offering a more tightly focused narrative that plays to the strengths of the franchise. Johnny Depp’s vivid portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow remains the heart and soul of the series, and perhaps, the key reason that this latest installment plundered more than a billion dollars of box office booty.

The plot of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES follows on the setup of the last installment, with Captain Jack Sparrow in search of the fabled Fountain of Youth… not to mention his seemingly never-ending quest to recover his ship, The Black Pearl. When we first encounter Jack, he is in London to rescue his former first mate, Joshamee Gibbs, (Kevin McNally) from the gallows. While Gibbs is spared the gallows, The failed attempt results in Jack being brought before King George II (Richard Griffiths), who wants the pirate to guide an expedition to the Fountain of Youth, that is, before the Spanish locate it. Leading said expedition is former pirate, Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who has turned privateer, after losing his leg… and The Black Pearl.

Escaping British authorities, Jack learns that someone has been impersonating him and recruiting a crew. The impostor turns out to be Jack's former lover, Angelica (Penélope Cruz), who is also daughter the ruthless pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane). After an encounter with Angelica, Jack finds himself shanghaied onboard Blackbeard’s ship- the Queen Anne's Revenge. While onboard, Jack discovers that supernaturally empowered evil pirate is also seeking the Fountain of Youth… to stave off a prophecy of his own death. What follows is the race to the Fountain of Youth, with stopovers to acquire necessities for the ritual that extends one’s life. The cast PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES of also features Sam Claflin, Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, Greg Ellis, Damian O'Hare, Stephen Graham, Óscar Jaenada, Gemma Ward, Keith Richards, Judi Dench, Derek Mears and Sebastian Armesto.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has made PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is nothing short of glorious, making the most of every bit of atmosphere cinematographer Dariusz Wolski adds to the drop dead gorgeous visuals. Shot digitally with Red cameras, image sharpness, depth and dimensionality are all utterly superb. In addition, fine details, such as the texture of fabrics and other objects, not to mention the lines, and imperfections in the actor’s skin, plus individual hairs are clearly visible. Colors are rich, vibrant, fully saturated and utterly superb, especially during the jungle sequences, although the early outdoor London sequence is a bit drab by comparison. Additionally, the flesh tones come across in an exceedingly pleasing manner. Blacks are pitch perfect and the whites are pure. Contrast is excellent, plus the picture produces generally very good levels of shadow detail. The elements from which PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES has been mastered are free from flaws. Modest amounts grain/noise show up on occasion, but otherwise the image is very clean, without appearing artificial or overtly digital.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. There is no doubt in my mind that PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES is sonically perfect and belongs amongst ones’ Blu-ray demo soundtracks. This is the kind of big budget action/fantasy film that lends itself to over-the-top sound design possibilities and the soundtrack for PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES never disappoints. Sound effects are aggressively deployed throughout the entire soundstage, so the outlying channels engage nearly continuously. Sounds whiz around the soundstage and leap out at the viewer from all directions. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is terrific for both the musical component and sound effects. Hans Zimmer’s rollicking pirates themes sound glorious. The bass channel is punchy, percussive and shakes the ground when required. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and is always easy to understand. French and Spanish 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks are also encoded onto the disc, as is an English descriptive track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as few extras. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Rob Marshall and executive producer John DeLuca. Featurettes and other programs include: Lego Pirates Of The Caribbean (five minutes) and Bloopers Of The Caribbean (three minutes). The Disney Second Screen feature that integrates laptops or iPads for additional supplemental content is also included on this release. Disc two offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES delivers another a rollicking good time for fans. The Blu-ray is demo quality all the way and cannot be faulted. Recommended.


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Two-Disc Blu-ray / DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging) (2011)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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