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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz


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Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy (Three Movie Hi-Def Collection) [Blu-ray]


(Gore Verbinski, 2003, 2006, 2007)







Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: Walt Disney Pictures

Blu-ray: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment



Region: A

Runtime: 462 min


Size: 3 X 50 GB, 3 X 25 GB (6-discs total)

Case: three 2-disc amaray cases with single slipcover

Release date: September 16th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 2.35.:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC



English PCM 5.1 Surround (48kHz/24-Bit); English, French & Spanish DD 5.1



English SDH, French, Spanish, none



• (same as on previous editions, issued separately)


Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl BR
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End BR



The Films:

The first movie, Curse of the Black Pearl, beat the hell out of every expectation – and apparently, I was not alone in this.  The sequel, Dead Man's Chest, could only be worse, I assured myself.  It was, but not all that much, nor hardly to the point of distraction.  In fact, my second viewing was much more satisfactory – at least I was prepared for some of the scenes I had thought went on too long.  (Most critics felt that the second sequel, At World's End, went on even longer, so I was again prepared.  Let's hear it for low expectations!  While not nearly up the standards of the first movie, it was not a difficult experience, and quite possibly seeing on video will be even less so.)  My main criticism of Dead Man’s Chest was not so much its length or the length of its action sequences, as it’s relative lack of anything that so grabbed my visual, dramatic and emotional attention as the walking dead in The Black Pearl, who would turn in and out of skeletons as they entered and left a beam of the full moon.

Excerpt from the Lensview review located HERE


Even the most casual of outlines for the plot of At World's End, is mind-bogglingly complex – even more so than Dead Man's Chest.  This is not altogether a bad thing as it requires for most of us repeated viewings to put it altogether and be properly swept along with its flow.  Whether you would submit to a second helping of this final episode depends, I would think, on more subtle matters: like how you feel about the various characters.  For my part, I was still able to remain connected to just about everyone except the villain, Lord Beckett.  It wasn't so much his character, as the actor who portrayed him (Tom Hollander) that I found utterly without interest.  Evidently the idea was for him to be cold-blooded (like John Malkovich in In the Line of Fire), but in doing so, Hollander's Beckett lost all sense of interest in his own adventure.  Fortunately, Beckett is generally on screen for a relatively small part of the movie, but when he shares the frame with other more engaging characters, from Davy Jones to Elizabeth, to Captain Jack, all suffer from his presence.  He seems, quite unintentionally, to drain the life from their efforts.

Excerpt from the Lensview review located HERE



For those who haven't picked up these movies on Blu-ray as they came out over the past year or so, this new packaging is just the ticket. The Trilogy is priced at slightly more than two movies purchased separately. So the remaining question is: Is this set in any way an upgrade in terms of image, audio or extra features?

The simple answer is: No. The Extra Features are the same. Even the promotional previews are the same. The audio is listed as the same, as is the Codex for all three movies. But there is a subtler answer:
First, the framing problem that some cool eyed customers found in Curse of the Black Pearl has been fixed. This, by the way, did not simply affect a frame here or a frame there, but parts of scenes. I have included a sample of the old and the new for assurance.



Second, the bit rates are different for Curse of the Black Pearl - meaning what, exactly? Can we see a difference? Do I see a difference? Well, if you're going to reframe parts of the film here and there, this might offer an opportunity to reconsider contrast in general. Intentional or not, it's not like the change is very large, though it is greater in the aggregate than a mere cropping can demonstrate.

I performed a frame-to-frame comparison of some a half dozen scenes of varying complexity of content from each movie and determined that there is no difference between the original and new DVD images for Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, but there is a measurable difference regarding the first installment of the trilogy. What I did was to photograph identical frames from the two DVDs and compare their histograms. Simple as that. No point in buggering my eyesight if the two histograms are identical – or so nearly so as to be twins. Clearly, Curse of the Black Pearl yielded different histograms throughout the movie.

So the next question is: Do the different histograms yield different images – and should we prefer one to the other? Let's have a look, shall we:

The crop that I chose is representative of the nature and extent of the change, which may be more apparent after you blink. Note that the guard's left shoulder is brighter on the original edition, his white straps are darker – dirtier if you will – on the new one. On the other hand, or arm, Governor Swann's left arm seems brightened on the new one. Kind of unexpected, isn't it! Note that the fringe of the governor's hat is lighter on the new edition. There's a touch less fill light on Elizabeth's face in the new one. Flesh tones in this crop are slightly ruddier on the new one (check out the guard). There is more contrast in the original for the deep background. That might make it easier to make out, but I'm sure it's entirely desirable.



As represented in the capture and the display used, I find myself preferring some aspects of the one and other aspects of the other. This is the one disadvantage to captures, even if executed 100% accurately. Movies take place before our eyes over time and the effect of these subtle alterations in contrast have an almost subliminal effect on our feeling about the drama before us. In this case, there are no errors in transfer that are apparent to me and, in any case, the matter of which edition to settle on is moot, since the framing fix trumps any preference we might have in contrast, making the latest edition the preferred one.


Original 'Curse of the Black Pearl' Blu-ray issue (with framing problem)



New 'Curse of the Black Pearl' Blu-ray transfer in the Trilogy



Cropped segment from the Original 'Curse of the Black Pearl' Blu-ray issue



New 'Curse of the Black Pearl'  Blu-ray transfer in the Trilogy Boxset 



More captures from 'Curse of the Black Pearl' Trilogy transfer










Audio & Music + Extras:

• (same as on previous editions, issued separately)


Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl BR
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End BR


Bottom line (editor): As Leonard stated 'For those who haven't picked up these movies on Blu-ray as they came out over the past year or so, this new packaging is just the ticket.' Being a procrastinator to viewing the series I, personally, will benefit from the cheaper price and receiving the 'frame corrected' Curse of the Black Pearl. I suspect even if you just have one Blu-ray of the series (no matter which one) the Trilogy seems like a decent deal. Nothing new is offered (aside from Leonard's observations about the Curse of the Black Pearl)  but the price is right for the three films together in 1080P resolution.

Leonard Norwitz
September 6th, 2008










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