Blu-Ray Review: Pirates Of The Caribbean – On Stranger Tides

potc4 Blu Ray Review: Pirates Of The Caribbean   On Stranger Tides

Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is back for the fourth installment in the Pirates Of The Caribbean (POTC) franchise.  This time around, Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) are gone and the movie mainly focuses on Captain Jack.  The movie was entertaining but director Rob Marshall (Chicago) missed several opportunities to make the movie great.  The movie is easier to follow compared to the second and third installments as Sparrow and a group of characters race to find the fountain of youth.   Although this movie is also shorter than its previous counterparts, there are still some pointless scenes, especially in the villain’s ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge.  The bad guy this time around is Blackbeard (Ian McShane).  He’s a black magic voodoo pirate controls his ship with his sword.  Marshall could’ve done so much more with this character because of his cool powers but at the end of the movie, he became a joke.  His daughter and former romantic interest of Jack, Angelica (Penelope Cruz), is also in on the adventure.  The chemistry between Sparrow and Angelica was the best part of the movie.  Sparrow finally showed real emotion for the first time in the franchise.  Angelica’s scenes were interesting with her love/hate relationship with Jack and maybe her real dad, Blackbeard.

Killer mermaids show up to kill the crew and there’s a pointless subplot between one of them and a missionary.  Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) is also back as a mercenary hired by England to also find the fountain of youth.  The production value and special effects for this movie is still top notch.  The mermaids are well done and they look vicious and downright scary.    The story of the movie  reminded me of Indiana Jones.  I enjoyed the way Sparrow gathered all the artifacts to find the fountain of youth.   Then came the most frustrating part, the final act.  Instead of an epic battle with cool supernatural powers thrown in, it became uneventful.  Sparrow didn’t even join the battle.

I would rank On Stranger Tides as the second best movie from the “POTC” franchise, with the first one being the best.  Although there are overly long scenes and disappointing third act, I still enjoyed the story and the production value:
Grade: B

On Stranger Tides is presented in 1080p 2.35:1 ratio.  The trademark muted colors is back again and I was really amazed with the details, especially the costumes.  Even though this is 2d, video really pops and feels like 3d (3d version is also available) especially with the foreground and background.  The tracking shots of ships are breathtaking.  It makes the movie feel really grand.  The image is always sharp and there’s no softness so I appreciated the props more.  You can even clearly see the carvings on the swords and Jack’s trinkets.  The video is demo worthy material,  the scene I’d showoff would be the attack of the mermaids.  It’s really dark but clear enough to see what’s going on and Queen Anne’s Revenge is also involved.
Grade: A

The audio is presented in DTS-HD lossless 7.1 track.  The center channel is a little bit weak so I had to turn it up a couple of decibels up (or I could’ve turned up the volume up for dialogue driven scenes and turn it down for action scenes).  Besides the center having an issue, the rest of the track is good.  Hans Zimmer’s music can be heard easily including the rear speakers.  Bass is good for the explosions and gunshots.  It feels really strong and I can feel the whole room vibrate.  I would give this track a higher score but the center is really important to me and it was too low.
Grade: B+

There are a couple of extras for this blu-ray.  They are:

– Commentary by director Rob Marshall and producer John DeLuca – Dry but informative track as the two discuss the work behind the movie including special effects and post production.

– Disney Second Screen – Connect with an iPad or computer and get more behind the scenes content as you watch the movie.

– Bloopers – Funny outtakes from the movie.

– Lego Pirates Of The Caribbean – Some movie scenes in Lego.  It wasn’t as interesting as I thought it would be.

The extras weren’t as much as I’d hope (the 3d version has an extra blu-ray just for extras including deleted scenes) but it’s better than having nothing at all like Transformers: Dark Of The Moon.
Grade: B-

On Stranger Tides is a fun movie that falls short of being awesome because of  a couple of problems, especially the pacing and ending.  The movie is  more than watchable and I was intrigued by the special effects and production value.  Video is demo worthy while the center channel could have been louder.  Extras are okay.  This set also comes with the DVD version of the movies.  If you haven’t seen it, I suggest at least a rental.  If you’re a big fan of the franchise, then this is worth owning.

Release date: October 18, 2011

Overall Grade: B (not an average)

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