PicturePresented as a THX certified anamorphic 2.35:1 image, something of a mixed bag awaits those with capable displays, certainly detail and colour rendition are exemplary. Daylight scenes of the Port town and soldiers-on-parade are wonderfully vibrant and pin sharp, much of the film is bathed in moonlight and high levels of detail remain even in the gloom. The bit-rate is consistently high and often maxing out. However, without doubt edge enhancement, which is normally something I find relatively easy to live with, compared to say audio inconsistencies, is most certainly there and, dare I say it the image appears "noisy" on occasion. I tried the disc across three certainly respectable players and whilst I could convince myself that it was not compression, no amount of picture tweaking trickery (other than softening the picture to cataract-o-vision levels) seemed to improve what most certainly seems to be on the print/disc.
SoundThe main feature has both Dolby Digital (448kbs) and DTS (768kbs) streams, whilst no packaging details, studio or official Dolby DVD listings have this marked as anything other than a standard 5.1 affair, my processor was forced into extended surround modes for both of the tracks (EX/ES). My first reaction was to set about the "net" to procure confirmation of either an extended surround presence or an incorrect flag, rather obviously I had neglected to simply check the end credits to see what they had to say for themselves and there for all to see was the Surround EX logo, so it is, I feel safe to assume that the R1 release has Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES (matrix) formats present.
This film's sound design is, from start to finish "a blast", dialogue is clean, the dynamics are great and there are several moments of real low end extension that only the largest of sub's will exploit. The score is typical of anything that Bruckheimer (coincidence or otherwise) has his hands on, rousing orchestral stabs and themes that genuinely add to the on-screen action. During the battle scenes every "last man Jack" of your speaker array will be exercised, whilst other less bombastic moments were not a showcase of 5.1 discrete channels, rather a more ambient and reflection based soundstage - great stuff, in today's blockbuster action movies i sometimes feel that the rear channels are somewhat over-cooked. Listening between the two, apart from the Dolby stream being louder than it's DTS counterpart there didn't seem vast differences across the board, I felt with DD in places the orchestral scoring was louder, more pronounced, with DTS there was a more prominent low end particularly when the "necklace calls to the Pirates" - serious subwoofery!!
I would be happy to listen to either and would not make the journey across my listening room to change the audio tracks if the remote was not in it's rightful place to my immediate right.
ExtrasThere are loads here for your money spread across both discs. On disc 1 we have a commentary by Gore and Mr. Depp, a second commentary by 4 scriptwriters, a selected scene commentary by Bruckheimer and finally a selected scene commentary by Jack Davenport and Keira Knightley. Of these I found interest in the scriptwriter's commentaries and enjoyed both the Bruckheimer and the Davenport and Knightley shorts.
DVD-rom features are a "ScriptScanner" - the scriptwriter's vision to reality affair and the "storyboard Viewer" which is all fairly standard stuff.
Onto disc 2 we have a making of feature made up of multiple shorts, next up a collection of "fly on the wall" shorts from various sets and scenes. Then a collection of three diaries, The Diary of Jerry Bruckheimer, The Dairy of a ship - which gives an insight into the voyage of the real life "Interceptor" from Port to the Caribbean - and finally The Diary of an (actor) Pirate.
Next we have "Below Deck" an interactive history of the "real" lives of the Pirates of old, followed a short blooper reel, then wade through 19 deleted scenes, a short on the moonlight special effects, an image gallery then a Disneyland "Pirates of the Caribbean" promo and finally a collection of 4 DVD-rom features - Moonlight becomes Ye, Disneyland Pirates Virtual Reality Viewer, Dead Men Tell No Tales and a Pirates of the Caribbean Attraction Image Gallery. All together this makes for interesting viewing after the main feature.
VerdictI was more than pleasantly surprised by Pirates of the Caribbean, as a film and as a whole package, no doubt Academy awards will not be associated but what we have is a more than acceptable Saturday night swashbuckler matched with a pleasant enough picture and audio experience and extra's that are not a waste of your time or money.
Most certainly recommended.
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