The pirate genre had died many times since its peak during the golden age of Hollywood. It had a very high-profile death in 1986 when Roman Polanski’s Pirates was an enormous flop. In 1995, the genre died once again with Renny Harlin’s tormented Cutthroat Island. The movie flopped so hard that it bankrupted the production company and ended several careers. You would think that Cutthroat would be the ultimate end of the genre, but 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl says otherwise.
Thanks to director Gore Verbinski, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is entirely breathtaking in its scope. It’s improbable to think that a theme park attraction would lead to enormous moneymaking possibilities. After all, Haunted Mansion came out the same year as Curse of the Black Pearl. Clearly, not all theme park live-action adaptations are the same.
A lot of the success of Pirates of the Caribbean is thanks to Johnny Depp. While Depp has played countless memorable characters, Captain Jack Sparrow is easily his most intriguing and displays his talent as an actor. As a whole, Depp’s performance is oddly magnetic and his irresistibly entertaining performance energizes the entire film. Not to be outdone by Depp, Geoffrey Rush also gave us another memorable character in Captain Barbossa. Co-stars Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley have great chemistry and play their roles well. Jonathan Pryce rounds out this talented cast, and everyone’s combined performance leads to one memorable ensemble.
Overall, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is exactly what you look for in a summer blockbuster. Everything came together at the right time with the right material, and now pirates are a big deal again. It’s a much-needed boost to the classic pirate genre from the heyday in Hollywood.
Movie Rating: 5/5 atoms
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with an HDR10 transfer and a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. As incredibly bright as the highlight and light areas are, none of the details are lost in these areas. If you want an example, look no further than the clouds in the big blue sky. At the same time, the natural lit look of the film allows the blacks to be pure inky black. Thankfully, many details can still be seen in the shadows and night scenes. Collectively, the brightness and black levels combine for a pitch-perfect picture—especially in settings where fire serves as the setting’s primary light source.
You might not realize it, but Pirates is a pretty colorful flick. From the lush greenery of the islands to the blues of the ocean to the red on the British soldiers, the colors come through vibrantly off the screen. There are so many stunningly beautiful details in the costume and production design. All of these particulars come through crisply throughout.
Video Rating: 5/5 atoms
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos and a core 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track. This review will reflect Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl‘s Dolby Atmos track. For the most part, much of the mix’s activity comes from the front channels. However, numerous sound effects, such as lightning and the ocean waves, use all the speakers and sweep across the entire soundstage. Also, these sounds permeate into the overhead channels as well. As for the atmospherics, they also come through distinctly.
For instance, the quieter moments aboard the ships, sound effects like the vessels creak, and the ocean complement the dialogue. Thus, keeping the audience engaged in the few quiet moments in the film. Klaus Badelt’s epic score is separated and plays dynamically across the entire soundstage. For the most part, the dialogue is crystal clear. However, during the big battle between the Pearl and Interceptor, the voices get overpowered by the chaos of the scene.
Audio Rating: 4/5 atoms
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl‘s Ultra HD Blu-ray disc doesn’t have any special features on it. However, you can find the following special features on the 1080p Blu-ray disc:
- Scoundrels of the Sea
- Movie Showcase
- Original DVD Features
- Audio Commentaries
- Director Gore Verbinski and Actor Johnny Depp
- Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Actors Keira Knightley and Jack Davenport
- Screenwriters Stuart Beattie, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio and Jay Wolpert
- Audio Commentaries
“Scoundrels of the Sea” is one of those interactive pop-up trivia experiences from the early 2000s. Now, if you’ve never done one of these before, pieces of trivia will show up that coincides with the events on the screen. Some of the trivia will have an extra feature that you can click on so you can learn more about that fact. “Movie Showcase” is a perfect feature for a certain type of audience: The home theater enthusiasts. Uniquely, this bonus feature is a collection of scenes that showcases “the ultimate in high definition picture and sound.” Thus, if you want to test out your home theater setup or show it off to guests, then this is a perfect feature to access.
The commentary track with Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp is extremely laid-back as they tell us about the upsides and downsides of the film’s production. It’s interesting, but not that entertaining to listen to.Next, the commentary track with producer Jerry Bruckheimer and actors Keira Knightley and Jack Davenport is a select-scene commentary that only lasts through portions of the movie. Bruckheimer’s bits are from an interview and primarily glosses over the project without going into detail. Knightley and Davenport are the clear highlights of the track. While they aren’t as informative as the others, they are enjoyable to listen to. Both of them have plenty of enthusiasm and playfully interact with each other for fun results. Lastly, Stuart Beattie, Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio, and Jay Wolpert’s commentary track focuses on matters concerning the script. It’s intriguing but nothing Earth-shattering.
Special Features Rating: 2/5 atoms
Overall, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a phenomenal and surprising swashbuckling adventure film anchored by the strength of its cast. It shows you that it doesn’t matter if the film is adapting a book or a theme park ride as long as the idea is fun. The video presentation is pitch-perfect. Unfortunately, the audio mix is a bit on the unaggressive side, and the bonus features are severely lacking.
Overall Rating: 4/5 atoms
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is now available in stores on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.
This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Walt Disney Home Entertainment.