Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl
Disney DVD gives their sprawling swashbuckler a feature-packed release that is sure to give both your DVD player and PC a workout. Presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the film transfer is nothing short of perfection. While some may doubt the ability of such a large-scale film to transfer suitably to television, the sharp image and beautiful colors do so with ease and grace. From the creepy moonlit scenes to the sparkling treasure cave, the colors are bright, vivid, and spectacular. With sound options that include THX-optimized DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, Disney DVD has offered viewers a vivid soundscape that perfectly compliments the visual presentation. The DTS soundtrack, in particular, will have viewers ducking under their coffee tables to avoid cannon fire. It seems only once or twice a year that a DVD comes along that truly redefines what can be accomplished on the format, and this is no doubt one of those discs. This release of Pirates of the Caribbean is virtually overflowing with great extra features, and viewers may need a free weekend just to navigate their way through its wealth of materials. Starting off with three separate commentary tracks, viewers will likely want to start with director Gore Verbinski and star Johnny Depp's amusing and informative recollection of the film's production. Though it may not be the most technical commentary, the two play well off of one another, and the result in an interesting and informative track. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer provides a bit more detailed take on the production, and stars Keira Knightley and Jack Davenport check in with what is definitely the most amusing commentary track. It's obvious that the two stars are comfortable with each other, and hearing them joke around as they recall the exhausting shoot is a blast. Writers Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie, and Jay Wolpert's commentary provides notable insight on how the screenplay changed from draft to draft (and script to screen), though one gets the impression that they're stepping on each other's toes a bit to get a word in, and the result is a bit crowded. "An Epic at Sea: The Making of Pirates of the Caribbean" checks in at about 40 minutes and covers everything from location scouting to the spectacular Disneyland premiere of the film. "Fly on the Set" takes a look at both the director in action and how the filmmakers managed their many cinematic feats and sleights of hand. If one wishes to explore the life of actual pirates they need look no further than the "Below Deck" feature, which actually takes viewers aboard a pirate ship to explore the true-life tales of history's most notorious seafaring scallywags. From Blackbeard to Sir Francis Drake to women pirates and Chinese pirates, this informative feature utilizes interviews with maritime historian David Cordingly and film clips and is one of the most fascinating and insightful features on the disc. The accompanying feature, "A Prisoner's Last Tale," also speaks with Cordingly to provide detailed insight on the day-to-day life of a pirate. "Diary of a Pirate" consists of a "Producer's Photo Diary" (which is also narrated by Bruckheimer), a video journal by star Lee Arenberg and a detailed study of the brig Lady Washington (which served as The Interceptor in the film). Deleted scenes mostly offer a more intimate look at the characters, and a blooper reel collects some of the most amusing on-camera flubs. After viewers take a detailed look at one of the film's most entertainingly frightful scenes in "Moonlight Serenade," an image gallery offers production sketches, storyboards, and production and publicity photos. The vintage promotional short "Pirates in the Park" takes them on a nostalgic ride through the actual Disneyland attraction. If viewers aren't entirely exhausted by this point, the DVD-ROM features are sure to do them in. From an effects studio to a virtual reality viewer and storyboard viewer, these intense interactive features will truly put your home PC to the test (the DVD-ROM features will not work on Macintosh computers). From the serious film student to the curious youngster, this release has something for everyone. A must-have for DVD fanatics and fans of the film alike.