Blu-ray: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES (2011)
I've been reading a lot of reviews of this Blu-ray release hating the darkness of it, but then saying that it's part of the film. When reviewing the quality of a transfer the only thing to really take into account is the intent of the filmmakers and has that been brought to the home entertainment experience. With Disney's 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer of the fourth PIRATES film, they have done this masterfully. Yes, some of the early scenes are dark and mysterious, but that was director Rob Marshall and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski point. Even in the darkness you can relish in the inky blacks and remarkable detail. It has been described as smoky, which is true, but nothing is lost. When the film sails into the day, the details jump from the screen in the clothing and sets. The color palette is muted, but uber natural, which provides some of the visual awe. Digital anomalies are minimal. There is some faint digital fuzziness in the darker scenes and edge enhancement ringing can be found if you're looking for it.
If people have been nitpicking the picture quality, they are not doing so with the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 because you can't. This is one of the Blu-rays of the year to rock the surround sound with. Directionality is masterfully done to the point that it actually made my head turn — hey what's that behind me. Pans across the soundscape and the general ambiance make for a very immersive experience. Dialogue, score and sound effects are balanced precisely. Every sword clash, pistol fire, explosion, splash or snarky line is given its proper due.
As for the special features, Disney has save the best booty for those that purchase the 3-D version. For the standard 2-disc Blu-ray the special features are slim. Executive producer John DeLuca and director Rob Marshall provide the audio commentary, which focuses on a lot of on-set stories. When Marshall stops praising every person that he worked with, he does provide some nice insight into what it's like to take over a popular franchise in the fourth outing, as well as some of the problems that had to overcome during production.
The other features include: Disney Second Screen, bloopers and Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, which is short animated films depicting scenes of the film with Lego characters.