Discussing the old school DVD’s that still sound and look great in the era of Blu-Ray and HD-DVD technology.
Hello all. Another week and another time-sensitive demo disc to discuss.
Last week it was Superman: The Movie just as Superman Returns hit the theater.
With Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest coming out this week, I figured it would be worth going back and re-watching selected scenes from the original film to see whether or not it’s still one o… the better demo discs available on the market. Old school DVD market, that is…
Upon its release, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl received a rare perfect score in every category from this website. So did it really deserve it?
Now, before you throw poop at me, let me explain myself. I think you’ll agree.
When I first viewed the movie back when it was released on DVD, one thing that struck me was how disappointing the audio tracks were. I mean, there it was — a DVD fitted with Dolby Digital EX, and DTS 5.1 tracks that were certified by THX. That doesn’t happen too often, so I was expecting to be blown away and I… just… wasn’t.
Take Scene 4 for instance. When the ship’s cannons are firing, I expect my subwoofer to vibrate my viewing room and feel those blasts in my chest. After all, the cannon shots in Master and Commander did exactly that. Sadly, that didn’t happen in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Don’t get me wrong, the cannon shots are still pretty strong, but they lack one thing that makes scenes like this demo quality — and that is unbridled low frequency power.
Before you tell me to turn up my low-frequency levels, let me tell you this — scenes in other movies like Master and Commander and Star Wars have excellent low frequencies at the level in which my system is currently set. And let it be known that I like bass — I mean really like bass — so my low-end frequencies are already turned up a little more than they probably should be.
This bass-lacking phenomenon is unfortunately present on both tracks too. When viewing Scene 4 with the Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track, the low-end frequency seems a bit more noticeable, but you lose the sound separation that the DTS track delivers. So when you gain one thing, you lose the other.
It’s not just Scene 4 either. After skipping through most of the battle scenes on the disc, I noticed that the low-end frequency was sadly absent in all of them. 85 minutes into the film, when I think I could finally be proven wrong with the quintessential demo scene, my point is hammered home — the soundtrack lacks that extra something to make it stand out as “the demo scene.”
That said, this is still an excellent audio track. It’s not perfect, but how many DVD’s are? The surround usage in this film is amazingly aggressive and really adds to the viewing experience. Most of the time, it’s just the musical score coming through the satellites but every now and then you get a natural sound in there — like a wave crash — and it really heightens the moment on screen.
But ultimately, this disc lacks that golden demo scene that rivals the pod race scene in The Phantom Menace or any battle scene in Master and Commander. I know that is a lot to ask from a DVD — because really — how many perfect demo scenes are there? But when Pirates of the Caribbean boasts dual Dolby Digital EX and DTS 5.1 audio tracks both certified by THX, you expect the perfect demo scene to be in there somewhere.
The DVD treatment that Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl receives reminds me a lot of the original Spider-Man DVD. You expect a lot more from the audio track and ultimately it felt hollow.
While we’re chopping down this once-perfectly reviewed DVD, let’s tackle the video while we’re at it.
Perfect? No. Excellent? Yes.
Scenes during the day really are stunning, with razor sharp border lines, brightness and clarity that would make you think that you were actually in the Caribbean — but scenes at night come off as grainy, smoky, blurry and saturated. It will be interesting to see how this disc’s image translates to the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD format — I think that a lot of the flaws present with this disc’s video will be cleaned up there. At least, I hope they are.
Overall, I found the Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl DVD experience to be as overrated as the movie itself. The audio track was good, but not perfect as initially billed and the picture, while stunning at times, was flawed at others.
You won’t find any stand-alone demo quality scenes on the disc, but the entire soundtrack is filled with aggressive surround sound usage, which is a huge plus.
If I had it my way, I would break down the ratings for Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl as follows:
- Overall – 4.0
- Film – 3.0
- Video – 4.0
- Audio – 4.0
- Extras – 4.5
So there you have it. And please keep in mind that this is only my opinion. Feel free to post your comments below.