In 1967, three months after the death of Walt Disney, the final ride he helped design opened in Disneyland. Pirates of the Caribbean was originally designed as a walk-thru, wax museum but was changed to a boat ride after the 1964 World's Fair in New York and the immense popularity of the It's a Small World attraction.
Fast forward thirty-six years, after spending about a dozen years in development, the first in a series of films based on the popular ride attraction debuted in theaters. Starring Johnny Depp (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Orlando Bloom (Lord of the Rings), Kiera Knightly (Pride and Prejudice), Geoffrey Rush (The King's Speech), and Jonathan Price (The Two Popes), Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl eventually grossed over six hundred and fifty million dollars worldwide. Of course, this prompted four sequels with a fifth one currently in development. However, audiences can now go back to where the franchise all started as Walt Disney World Studios has released Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in 4K for the first time.
Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) has "sailed" into Port Royal, Jamaica with the intent of stealing a ship. Meanwhile, the Governor's (Price) daughter, Elizabeth (Knightly), dreams of the day Will Turner (Bloom), was rescued at sea and the medallion she took from him. Pulling it out of its hiding space, she sets off a chain reaction that has far-reaching consequences, including a pirate attack on the Port and her kidnapping. Turner then teams up with Sparrow to find Elizabeth, albeit for vastly different reasons.
While Depp has had numerous memorable roles, Captain Sparrow is by far the most intriguing of his characters and displays his talent as an actor. Bloom and Knightly, both young in the first of the film series, show potential and play their roles well. Seasoned actors Price and Rush, round out this talented cast and the combination of all of them together is a well-put-together ensemble.
This is the first time the film has been released in 4K and fans won't be disappointed. The 2160p HD resolution is the cleanest version of the video presentation to date. With a clean transfer offering enhanced details and hues, one can immediately tell there is a marked difference in sharpness from the previously released version of the film.
The Dolby Atmos audio track is also an upgrade, and the quality is obvious when compared to previously released discs. However, the audio isn't overwhelmingly incredible when compared to other properties' upgraded audio tracks. It has some decent reverberation but lacks some of the depth audiences have come to expect from this type of enhancement. The low tones are decent but don't test the limits of the subwoofer speaker.
The Combo pack includes a previously released Blu-ray copy, a digital download, and the 4K disc. The extras are the biggest disappointment as they are all previously released and only include half of the extras released on the two Blu-ray sets from 2011. If you were hoping to replace your 2011 Blu-ray set, I wouldn't just yet as this new release doesn't offer as much in terms of extras.
Pirates of the Caribbean has become an incredibly successful franchise and deservedly so but, while this 4K release offers some upgrades, it falls short of being a combo pack one needs to rush right out to buy.
If you are a fan of the series, and you have some extra money gifted to you during the holidays, this set may be one you would want to consider.