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  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 72:50)
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: DTS 5.1 Surround
    English, English - Hearing Impaired
  • 19 Deleted scenes
  • 3 Audio commentary - with Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp; with Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie and Jay Wolpert; and selected scenes with Jerry Bruckheimer, Keira Knighley and Jack Davenport
  • 8 Featurette
  • Photo gallery
  • Animated menus
  • Booklet
  • DVD-ROM features
  • Storyboards
  • Outtakes
  • Original screenplay
  • THX Optimiser

Pirates of the Caribbean - CE

Disney/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 137 mins . M15+ . PAL


Ahoy ye mateys, one of the most critically, financially and publically acclaimed films of 2003 has hit home on an amazing two disc 'Collector's Edition' DVD.

The best way to describe this film is pure and utter entertainment. Check your intelligence at the door and just sit down and have a good time. It's just pure swashbuckling mischievous fun!

And that's all there is to it. This film doesn't aim to be deep and meaningful or something remarkably emotionally groundbreaking, it aims to be an adventure and, quite simply, it succeeds admirably. Honestly, who cares about logic issues and character flaws?

Directed by Gore Verbinski, the man who brought the terrifying remake of The Ring to the screen, has captured this pirate story with well-articulated composition, purpose and direction, but not without the assistance of a contradictorily cast group of performers. Led strongly by Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, who have all been confirmed for the film's 2005 sequel, as well as Australia's Geoffrey Rush, Pirates of the Caribbean comes to life like a colourful comic book full of action, adventure, laughs and romance.
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Hmmm, is this Edina or Patsy?
Johnny Depp, publicised as basing his character Captain Jack Sparrow on the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards, reminds this reviewer of a strange hybrid between Edina and Patsy from the BBC's Absolutely Fabulous, not to mention a splash from The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert's Guy Pearce. During the shoot, Depp and Rush just hammed it up all the way, waiting for the day that they were asked to leave the set once and for all. That day never came, and their lively performances are part of what make Pirates what it is. Based on the ride of the same name (duh) at the Disneyland theme park in California, the film features many scenes from the ride itself, capturing the misfortune, humour, adventure and fun onto celluloid and now onto DVD for audiences to enjoy in the privacy of their own living rooms.

- "So you expect to leave me standing on some beach with nothing but a name and your word it's the one I need and watch you sail away on my ship?"
- "No. I expect to leave you standing on some beach with absolutely no name at all, watching me sail away on my ship and then I'll shout the name back to you. Savvy?"

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Keira sees Johnny's pay cheque...

The Black Pearl is rumoured to be a ghost ship that haunts the waters of the Caribbean by a cursed crew of the undead led by the devilishly evil Captain Barbosa (Rush). On a voyage from London, Elizabeth Swann, the daughter of the Governor, discovers a young boy, Will Turner, floating among the wreckage of a destroyed ship wearing a golden pirate medallion. She quickly hides this trinket so his identity is not discovered. We flick forward nearly ten years and find a bad omen in the air in Port Royal, where the Black Pearl stealthily slinks into the harbour and starts to ransack the peaceful village. Elizabeth (Knightley) is kidnapped with the gold calling to the pirates where she invokes the pirate code of Parlay, meaning that she must be taken to the Captain unharmed. So off she goes. With this beautiful young lady now missing, Will Turner (Bloom) is worried as to her whereabouts, and befriends an eccentric pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp), to help him get his bonny lass back. However, the curse upon the Black Pearl is more than it appears to be and proves that Elizabeth's well-being is guaranteed. For now, anyway. Barbosa and his crew believe that she is the key - along with her medallion - to unlock the curse placed upon them. It is now a race against time set in the beautiful surrounds of the Caribbean; a story of love, adventure and curses, and a story that is now beautifully captured on this two disc DVD.

If ye haven't seen this film, you're missing out on a great piece of entertainment. So make next Saturday a night in.


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The downside of eating disorders...
Pirates of the Caribbean is presented in its original theatrical aspect of 2.35:1, is anamorphically enhanced and is, well, for a lack of a better word, perfect.

Buena Vista have really come to the party here, presenting a beautiful transfer able to reproduce the nasty buccaneer beauties on screen without a splash of hesitation. Colours are masterfully rich and vibrant, vividly exuding bright and solid tones, rounded off with deep black hues and stunningly presented shadow details. The opening sequence presents a smear of aliasing, but then such obscenities are unseen for the remaining 133 minutes. Detail levels are ornately high, capturing every minute detail of the structured architecture, plastered makeup and jaw-dropping CG work, and the clarity of the open shots is simply breathtaking. Film artefacts are absent and grain is barely a faint whisper in the scarcest of scenes, with the biggest transfer niggle lying within the slight occurrences of edge enhancement. Even the layer change, fitting snugly at 72:50, slips through almost undetectably. While it may not be the most ideal place, it's a fine example of odd positioning being mastered skilfully.


Buena Vista have generously presented The Curse of the Black Pearl with two English audio tracks, one being a 448Kbps Dolby Digital mix and the other a 754Kbps DTS mix.

Dialogue is cleanly presented in both tracks and in synch throughout the film. The soundstage structure in each track is very similar, boasting heavy discrete effects from all speakers and an energetic presence that viciously rips up the living room. Bass activity is thumping and heavy throughout, providing great depth to proceedings, with treble levels too healthily set. But the big question remains - Dolby Digital or DTS? Well, to be honest both tracks are aurally spectacular, however the DTS does have something special on offer. The subwoofer activity from the DTS track sounds more well-rounded, providing a more stable base for the remainder of the soundstage as well as a more pounding bass line. Saying this, bear in mind that the Dolby Digital track is a fine example of an action movie soundtrack, but oh boy the DTS simply does take your breath away!

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I didn't buy any blood oranges?!?

Klaus Badelt has brought the music of Pirates to life, providing a sonically powerful and well-themed score that suits the mood of the film all too well. Assisted by Hans Zimmer, obvious through some of the cues, Badelt has succeeded admirably in creating a driving score with a grand finale that just puts a smile on your face. This reviewer remembers standing next to the Panalogic cinema sound processor during the theatrical run and tastefully (at times) cranking up the entry to the end credits to give the audience an energetic farewell. And no bleeding ears either.


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Disc 1 in its anamorphically enhanced goodness...
Presented in a sexy red case, Pirates of the Caribbean has its plethora of extra features spread generously over two discs. Disc one features suitably themed animated 16:9 menus, backed by music from Klaus Badelt's score, while disc two features 1.33:1 menus (obviously unenhanced), also backed with Badelt's score. And what a bummer, no sign of the effective trailers used to advertise the film prior to its release! Included in the seductive case is a foldout booklet, complete with a description of the extras, as well as a map to the navigation of the features. The map for Disc One contains an error too, stating that there is a 'Sneak Peeks' area, something not available on the Region 4 disc.

Disc 1
Audio Commentary with Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp
All three commentaries are presented in a Dolby Digital mono format, yet still sound pretty good. After all, they are just carrying simple voices - no complex discrete effects there. So take a seat with the director and Jack Sparrow (sorry, that's Captain Jack Sparrow) and have a listen to a rather informative and, at times, humorous commentary focusing on many elements of the filmmaking process, as well as openings for the sequels, the first of which has been confirmed for 2005. This is definitely worth a listen for fans.

Audio Commentary with Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie and Jay Wolpert
These guys need to take notes on how to breathe. Say it with me now... b-r-e-a-t-h-e... It's a really handy thing to do, not just to stay alive but to give the audience a break too. For pretty much the entire duration of the film these guys have something to say about the story and screenplay (wow, did ye see that coming?), and what's even better is that most of it is actually pretty interesting.

Audio Commentary (selected scenes) with Jerry Bruckheimer, Keira Knightley and Jack Davenport
Two commentaries down and one to go. Well save ye self the bother and let this one slip by. This is a bit of a humorous one, with a few laughs along the way, but rather trivial compared to the techie specs given in the previous two. If you?re a fan of one of the above contributors, give it a go.

DVD-ROM Feature: Script Scanner
This cool little feature enables ye to watch the film with the script right along side as ye head along. This is a very welcome addition, especially for those interested in the screenplay.

DVD-ROM Feature: Storyboard Viewer
This feature too is a welcome addition, however be ye warned you're in for a bit of a wait for the loading process. Instead of watching the script whiz past, you're able to see the original storyboards whip past. The combination of this and the previous feature are great additions to the collection and give great insight into the pre-production area of the film, especially the storyboards.

Disc 2
Note that all video features on Disc 2 are presented in an unenhanced aspect of 1.33:1, with some clips appropriately framed at varying ratios.

An Epic at Sea
This 38 minute featurette has conveniently been broken up into quite sizable chunks looking at the making of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, with headings of Intro (0:40), The Actors (3:16), Locations (4:45), Production Design (4:52), The Ships (4:21), Costumes and Makeup (5:09), Stunts and Swords (6:32), Visual Effects (6:21) and The Premiere (2:20). These clips do also have the option of being played all at once. For a making-of featurette, this does the job pretty well, covering the major aspects of the film with enough detail to make this 38 minute journey well worthwhile.

Fly on the Set
This gives the audience exactly what the title suggests - ye become a fly on the set wall for the making of five key scenes. Running at a little over 20 minutes, this featurette also has the option to be watched in segments or in one continuous block. The viewing options are Town Attack (4:52), Tortuga (3:28), Blacksmith Shop (4:08), The Cave (3:59) and Jack's Hanging (4:23). These are all presented with no narration or interviews, just pure spider-wall entertainment - a great inclusion for those interested in seeing real movie magic.

Three diaries have been presented to the audience to give further insight into particular aspects of the film. The first, the Producer's Photo Diary (4:19), is a piece narrated by Jerry Bruckheimer where he discusses his love of photography and includes a photo montage from his days on set. Admittedly, his photography skills are actually quite fine. The remaining two featurettes are video diaries, the first taken by Lee Arenberg, who plays Pintel, which looks at the life of a pirate in the Diary of a Pirate (9:42) and Diary of a Ship (11:04) looks at the 'Lady Washington's' voyage from Long Beach, CA, to the island of St. Vincent to play the role of the 'Interceptor'. These, in addition to the 'fly' series above, are great behind the scenes featurettes with the downside being that they are so darn short. This sort of featurette is great for those interested in the making of films.

Below Deck: An Interactive History of Pirates
This featurette has two viewing options, the first an interactive viewing procedure, the other a straight out 22:21 viewing option. The first requires ye to navigate through a computer generated ship, and the latter is a more remote-friendly version. The areas looked at are the Captain's Quarters, On Deck, The Gunnery and The Galley.

Blooper Reel
Running at 3:13, this is a well-executed and well-edited blooper reel with a few laughs to be had. Improvisation stuff-ups, difficult lines (of course thanks to the screenwriters) and other slippery mishaps fill the content of this reel. If only it went on for a tad longer.

Deleted Scenes
19 deleted scenes have been presented on this DVD, adding nearly 20 minutes of extra footage to the film. These can either be watched in one viewing or individually. The deleted and extended scenes are Meet Will Turner (0:43), Carriage Ride (0:35), A Change in the Wind (0:59), Only One Shot (0:36), Peep Show (0:53), All is Well (0:24), Make it Last (0:33), A Bit of a Stick (0:33), It's Begun (1:09), The French (0:44), Not All That Big (1:43), No Truth At All (2:08), Accepting the Proposal (2:07), Peas in a Pod (1:04), Take a Walk (0:51), Let Them Eat Cake (0:31), The Immortal Captain Jack (1:03), Good Luck (0:39) and Happy Endings (0:54).

'Moonlight Serenade' Scene Progression
This 6:36 featurette looks at the 'Moonlight Serenade' sequence, deconstructing it from the storyboard stage to the completed sequence. The only thing that would have made this better would have been to enable multiple angles and allow the user to choose which part to see.

Image Gallery
This large gallery contains 300 images from the pre-production, production and publicity for the film. Divided into Inspiration (15), Concept Art (48), Storyboards: Blacksmith Shop (49), Black Pearl vs. Interceptor (34), Dauntless Capture (60), Captain Jack Sparrow (42), Costumes (15), Production (31) and Publicity (6), the images are automatically skipped every second or so. If ye wish to see an image for longer, just hit the 'pause' button on the remote.

Pirates in the Parks: Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color
This featurette, running for 18:20, is from an original production in 1968 at the time of Disneyland's ride opening of the Pirates of the Caribbean. It looks behind the scenes of the making of the ride and takes the audience on a private journey through it. Over 30 years later, very little has actually changed to the ride.

Easter Eggs
Now before you take this disc out and place it in your DVD-ROM drive, you can go for a search around to find four Easter eggs. The first takes a look at the construction of the Pirate's cave, the second is a six-minute previsualisation of the battle scene, the third a brief interview with character-base for Captain Jack Sparrow, Keith Richards, and finally there's a set of credits. If you get lost, take a walk down the plank to our Easter Eggs page...

DVD-ROM Feature: Dead Men Tell No Tales
This is presented as a 13:55 Apple Quicktime file through InterActual's DVD-ROM browser. It takes a look at the history of Disneyland's famous ride upon which this film was inspired.

DVD-ROM Feature: Pirates of the Caribbean Attraction Photo Gallery
This gallery contains 48 easily browsable images presented as eight pages of six thumbnails with the option of viewing larger versions of the images. A downside to these larger versions is that all must be loaded in order to see even one.

DVD-ROM Feature: Moonlight Becomes Ye Effects Studio
This interactive featurette lets ye import your own photo and add some special effects to make it appear as skeletal as the cursed pirates from the film. This is presented as a Macromedia Director MX projector, launchable from the InterActual DVD software.

DVD-ROM Feature: Disneyland Pirates Virtual Reality Tour
This tour gives ye a look at five sets from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland in a Quicktime VR format.


A neatly contrastingly cast, a talented director, wit and charm in a rich screenplay and also a wealthy producer in Bruckheimer have all combined to take entertainment to new levels, pushing the boundaries of digital visual effects and high-seas action in a thrilling adventure story presented on a two disc DVD set that also pushes boundaries - this time the technical boundaries of DVD. A pristine transfer in all respects, two glorious audio options and a pillage of quality and informative extras that compliment the film marvellously await in this must-have DVD. This reviewer has just found a brand new reference disc. This is how ye make a DVD!

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  •  DVD NET Gold Review List 
      And I quote...
    "Pirates of the Caribbean comes to life like a colourful comic book full of action, adventure, laughs and romance."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-NS530
    • TV:
          Sharp SX76NF8 76cm Widescreen
    • Receiver:
          Sony HT-SL5
    • Speakers:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SS-CNP2
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SA-WMSP3
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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    The Craic
    "This Craic is as unfunny as a plumber’s butt crack, with a transfer that’s just as pretty too..."

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