Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. As befit a modern, big-budget flick, the transfer looked quite good.
Sharpness always came across well. At no point did softness interfere with the presentation. The movie appeared concise and accurate.
No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and edge haloes were minimal. Happily, print flaws appeared totally absent, as I noticed no specks, grit or other defects.
I wouldn’t expect a pirate film to come bursting with dynamic hues, and the tones of Tides looked appropriately subdued. The movie displayed colors that fit within its setting, though – like the red coats of the British soldiers - and they came across as clean and well developed.
Given the atmosphere of the movie, blacks became more important, and the disc presented nicely rich and dense dark tones. Shadows were a bit heavy at times, though, as some low-light shots seemed more opaque than I’d like. Those issues were minor, however, and this was a strong image overall.
No complaints accompanied the excellent DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Tides. The soundfield was dynamic and involving. The various channels presented a surfeit of information that blended together with great clarity and smoothness.
All elements seemed placed accurately within the environment, and these components moved neatly across and between the speakers. This helped create a good sense of place and made the action all the more engrossing.
Lots of action sequences brought out the strengths in the soundfield. The battles at sea added the best moments, but plenty of other elements stood out as strong. These used the surrounds well and created a lively, immersive piece.
I also found the audio quality to live up to high standards. Speech came across as firm and natural, and I noticed no edginess.
Music occasionally risked getting submerged beneath all the action, but the score remained bright and dynamic nonetheless, as the mix depicted these components vividly.
Of course, the effects remained the stars of the show, and they appeared well displayed. The different elements sounded distinctive and clean, with no distortion or other issues.
Dynamic range was excellent, and low-end seemed superb. Bass response always stayed tight and rich. Overall, I felt quite pleased with the audio.
This package includes both 2D and 3D versions of Tides. The picture comments above address the 2D edition – how does the 3D compare?
In terms of visuals, both seem comparable. Given the darkness found in so much of the film, I feared the 3D image would become murky, but it holds up well. Low-light scenes may seem a smidgen thicker, but they’re close, and I saw no obvious degradation in picture quality.
Because Tides was shot on 3D cameras, I hoped it’d offer a dynamic experience in that regard, but instead, it seems fairly lackluster. Sure, the 3D adds a consistently nice sense of depth -–especially during scenes in the jungle – and the occasional “pop out” moment brings some pizzazz to the proceedings. Most of those stem from guns or swords.
However, the overall impact of the 3D remains good but not great, as the image just doesn’t take advantage of the format on a consistent basis. While the 3D edition becomes the most enjoyable way to view the film, it doesn’t stand out a strong use of the format.
Although the 2D-only package skimps on extras, this set provides a more robust set of bonus materials. 2D Disc One reproduces the same materials from that release, and its main attraction comes from an audio commentary with director Rob Marshall and executive producer John DeLuca.
Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at shooting the 3D version, sets and locations, cast and performances, various effects, action and stunts, characters and story, music and editing, and a few production areas.
The commentary starts slowly, largely due to the high level of praise on display; for a while, it feels like we get little more than happy talk. Though some of this trend continues, before long DeLuca and Marshall start to deliver a greater percentage of concrete info about the movie. That helps make it a reasonably good chat.
Bloopers of the Caribbean runs three minutes, 29 seconds. It shows a standard compilation of goofs and giggles. Nothing particularly interesting materializes here.
Next comes a collection of animated shorts called Captain Jack’s Brick Tales. We get five of these with a total running time of five minutes, 19 seconds. They’re cute but not much more than that, and they often feel like little more than ads for Lego.
The 2D disc opens with ads for Cars 2 and The Muppets. These also appear under Sneak Peeks along with promos for Phineas and Ferb, Disney parks, John Carter, and Treasure Buddies. No trailer for Tides shows up here.
The 3D disc starts with 3D ads for John Carter and Cars 2.
Exclusive to this 3D package, 2D Disc Two provides more extras, and here we start with a documentary called Legends of On Stranger Tides. It runs 36 minutes, 16 seconds and presents info from Marshall, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, writer Terry Rossio, executive producers Mike Stenson, Barry Waldman, John DeLuca and Chad Oman, extras casting Sande Alessi, casting assistant Mitch Blalok, makeup department head Joel Harlow, art director Drew Broughton, production designer John Myhre, supervising location manager Janice Polley, still photographer Peter Mountain, hair department head Peter Swords King, costume designer Penny Rose, 2nd AD David Pinkus set decorator Gordon Sim, sword master Thomas Dupont, stunt coordinator George Marshall Ruge, and actors Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Kevin McNally, Sam Claflin, Astriid Berges-Frisbey, and Geoffrey Rush.
“Legends” looks at challenges of another sequel and Marshall’s approach to the material, sets and locations, characters and cast, costumes, and stunts. Some good details emerge and I look the footage from the shoot, but “Legends” comes with a fluffy tone that makes it less engaging than I’d like.
A few featurettes follow, and we get In Search of the Fountain, a 10-minute, 59-second clip. It provides notes from Marshall, Bruckheimer, Depp, Myhre, Oman, Rush, McShane, McNally, visual effects supervisors Charles Gibson and Ben Snow, special effects supervisor Neil Corbould, key greensman Jon Marson, digital matte supervisor Brett Northcutt, visual effects art director John Bell, and actors Deobia Oparei, Stephen Graham, Christopher Fairbank and Yuki Matsuzaki.
Here we get details about the methods used to bring the film’s Fountain of Youth to life. Like “Legends”, more than a little puffery emerges, but “Search” nonetheless brings a generally good view of the topic.
With Last Sail, First Voyage, we discover an eight-minute, 20-second piece with Bruckheimer, McShane, Marshall, Myhre, Depp, ship’s captain Glenn Hall, marine coordinator Bruce Ross, and supervising art director Tomas Voth.
“Sail” examines the creation and use of the movie’s boats. It becomes another peppy but still fairly informative reel.
Next comes Under the Scene, a nine-minute, 20-second program that brings remarks from Bruckheimer, Rush, McNally, Marshall, Claflin, Oparei, Snow, Gibson, swimming coach Candace Hipp, assistant swimming coach Allison Jones, animation supervisor Tim Harrington, and actors Antoinette Nikprelaj, Daphne Joy, Gemma Ward, Toni Busker, Brook Ashley Abel, and Jillian Wunderli Penner.
The film’s mermaids become the focus here, as “Scene” covers a mix of ways the movie brings these characters to life. It fits in with the disc’s other programs.
Johnny Vs. Geoffrey lasts two minutes, 41 seconds and boasts comments from Bruckheimer, Marshall, Depp, and Rush. We get a quick look at the interactions of Depp and Rush on the set in this short reel. It’s watchable but not especially informative.
Five Deleted/Extended Scenes span a total of eight minutes, 49 seconds. Note that the total includes intros from Rob Marshall.
Each and every one of the clips seems minor and forgettable. At least Marshall gives us some decent notes, though he doesn’t have a ton to say about these mediocre snippets.
Another platter provides a DVD Copy of Tides. This gives us a retail version of the disc, not a neutered version.
Four films in, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise stalls with On Stranger Tides. While the movie never becomes a bad piece of work, it lacks the necessary sense of spark and adventure to make it as much fun as its predecessors. The Blu-ray delivers very good picture and audio along with a decent array of bonus materials. This isn’t a memorable movie, but the 3D package becomes its best representation.
To rate this film, visit the original review of ON STRANGER TIDES