'Blackbeard' is presented in Widescreen 1.78:1 with a 1080p High Definition transfer, which is best described as adequate. The colour palette is muted and many of the interior shots like the 'below decks' of the ships look murky. The black levels are not too wonderful and this, combined with the use of smoke in the air to add atmosphere, produces an image that's lacking in contrast.
There is no 3D 'pop', so we have a very flat looking image.
Thankfully, there is no 'ringing' in evidence around faces or outlines to hint at the use of image sharpening.
Grain is only noticeable on the seafaring shots, particularly showing up in the whites of the sails or where the air is full of smoke from the cannon fire.
But hey, it was shot on film - and film has a grain structure. It's not intrusive or distracting - it's film.
The image has a general slight softness to it, but that may have been caused by the use of Pro-mist filters in camera. The use of graduated Neutral Density or grey filters on the skies in many shots stop us from seeing true blues, so it's not a vibrant colourful image. ND Grads are intended to help hold detail on white skies which would otherwise burn out. This may also have been done to help cut together the sea battle sequences without adjacent blue sky versus cloudy scenes jarring
In general, there's nothing really wrong with the picture, it's just that it's not remarkable and doesn't stand out as the best transfer you've ever seen - but it's perfectly acceptable for a TV series and isn't unpleasant to watch.
The sound on 'Blackbeard' is presented in 2 channel Dolby Digital stereo and there's also an option of an uncompressed PCM 2 channel track.
The uncompressed PCM track is noticeably punchier and at a slightly higher level than the more laid back Dolby Digital track.
Dialogue is generally clear and crisp; although Blackbeard's occasional Scottish mutterings seem hard to make out when he turns away from camera (even for another Scotsman). Cannon fire goes with a convincing bang and the sound of cutlass on cutlass sounds realistic enough.
It's all very centre weighted stuff. It's functional, but again not remarkable and obviously won't give anyone's surround amp a workout.
There was a time when we'd have been delighted with a good 2 channel stereo track
It just shows how spoilt we've become as tempus has fugitted and 5.1 has become the norm on movies.
The bonus features on 'Blackbeard' are very slight affairs. There's no real chunky 'making of' Featurette or Directors commentary; but what we do have are little interesting titbits that give some insight into the 'behind the scenes' goings on.
- Richard Chamberlain says Ahoy (HD 4:3,1min55s)
Richard Chamberlain describes his role as Governor Charles Eden and briefly touches upon some roles he's played in previous years. This could have benefited from being longer for fans of the experienced actor.
- Yo, Ho, Ho and shooting a gun (HD 4:3, 1min18s)
Jessica Chastain explains some of the training and practice she had to undertake to enable her to fire some of the period firearms in the movie.
- Raging Mad Sea Dog (HD 4:3, 1min05s)
Angus MacFadyen briefly describes the character of Blackbeard and the interplay between his character and Charlotte Ormond.
- Scallywags (HD 4:3, 2min58s)
In this, the longest of the four clips, the leading players describe why they think an audience has a fascination with pirates and how much they've enjoyed playing them
'Blackbeard' on Blu-ray will appeal to fans of good, old fashioned pirate movies who love the search for buried treasure, a bit of skulduggery and the occasional sword fight against the background of a love story.
Hallmark Entertainment really 'pushed the boat out' (ow!) in this TV mini series by putting together a star cast including Richard Chamberlain, Stacy Keach and Rachel Ward in an exotic location. Unfortunately the whole effort is slightly let down by Angus MacFadyen's rather weak portrayal of the titular character.
The Blu-ray sports a good, if unremarkable 1080p High Definition transfer and a perfectly functional Dolby Digital 2 channel stereo soundtrack with an uncompressed PCM option.
The Extras, such as they are, give a little piece of background to the production itself and will be of interest to film buffs as well as fans of the Stars.
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.