Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Curse Resistant Pirates Sail into Home Ports

It is still somewhat beyond belief that a series of pirate movies based on a theme park attraction could become a 21st century multi-billion dollar entertainment franchise.  Yet, as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides proves, Disney's hottest entertainment property still remains commercially viable and surprisingly, critically  bulletproof.  It sails into home entertainment venues this week.

I passed on seeing this latest POTC adventure in a multiplex setting, preferring to wait for a high definition living room experience (a $25 Blu-ray remains a substantially better value than a family of four night at the movies with bloated concession stand prices and 3D surcharges).  My verdict?  It was an exceptionally well-crafted and often visually stunning endeavor with an engaging cast that manages to entertain despite some rather muddled storytelling.  I am an enthusiastic fan of the original POTC trilogy (At World's End included), so I was likely more forgiving of the film's flaws than most.  And although Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow remains the driving force of the franchise, it is Geoffrey Rush's Captain Barbossa, quite prominently featured in On Stranger Tides, that I personally find the greater draw.  With all due respect to Depp, it is the Barbossa character that seems the most rooted in the style and themes of the original theme park presentations.  Penelope Cruz is an adequate if not wholly inspired addition to the ensemble, while Ian McShane's performance as Blackbeard proves somewhat low key and understated.  The script, certainly less complex than previous POTC entries, still frequently suffers when necessary expository dialogue is performed in rather quick and heavily accented pirate-speak orations.

Disney Home Entertainment continues to frustrate with its increasingly maddening strategies of content distribution among its release packages.  Be aware that there are very distinct differences between the normal Blu-ray package and the Blu-ray 3D set that runs an extra $10.  If you are without the need for a 3D copy (which the vast majority of consumer still are), you will be slighted a digital copy of the film and an additional Blu-ray disc of bonus features.  In that regard, I am unable to speak to the quality or significance of these features: Legends of On Stranger Tides, In Search of the Fountain, Last Sail/First Voyage, Under the Scene: Bringing Mermaids to Life, and Deleted and Extended Scenes with Rob Marshall.  The normal Blu-ray does contain a scant handful of bonus features, most significantly the Disney Second Screen.  Also included are Bloopers of the Caribbean and Lego Animated Shorts: Captain Jack's Brick Tales.  It is a shame that Disney continues to penalize consumers who have no need for a 3D Blu-ray version of the movie.


Anonymous said...

Enough is enough - first we are told that we need BD, and that the DVDs we were sold for a lot of money are just worthless junk - and now they try the same with 3D (which is, by the way, (again) in real trouble, judging from the ticket sales for 3D shows. Sorry, but that´s no way to treat customers who are actually willing to *pay* for movies, in other words: the "good guys", who do not download illegally. 3D, while it can be fun in a movie theatre if done right, just makes no sense on a small screen - you simply lose more (color, brilliance, comfort) than you gain.

Anonymous said...

Not to disagree with anything that has been said here, but many people aren't aware of the good deals that you can get the first week that a movie comes out on disc. I don't like going to Best Buy, but for first week releases, their prices beat even Amazon.

I always order online for store pick-up to ensure that I am getting the web price. (Some prices will be higher in the store, but this locks you in to the lower one.)

For new releases, you are paying far less than MSRP and it's closer to $4 extra for the 3d + digital copy: $26.99.

I hate being forced to buy things I will probably never use (like 3d) but if you love special features and that's the only way to get them, $4 extra is better than $10.

Anonymous said...

Just to add further...

Go here and get BR + DVD + 3d + digital copy for $21.99 at BestBuy with this $5 coupon.


FigmentJedi said...

That's why I'm planning on getting it at Best Buy with the coupon. The extra disc they have there will make me feel a little better about being stuck with discs I don't use (3D and Digital Copy)