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Make no mistake.

Disney’s original Pirates of the Caribbean – The Curse of the Black Pearl – is a huge production and a wonderfully fun film.

Released in 2003, it spawned a brace of kinsmen.

Having compared the original 2007 Blu-ray, with the new 4k UHD, I’ve come away with an odd feeling. It’s not at all what I had expected. Even knowing that the original was a 2k DI derived from film, I thought I’d be seeing something special.

And I’m not.

Unless my eyes are deceiving me, I’m actually seeing more detail in the Blu-ray than in the 4k, which appears more lovingly homogenized, a bit akin to the Disney classic animated features.

Grain seems more subtle, details – for example, young Lucinda Dryzek’s freckles in the film’s opening. She plays the young Elizabeth. Her skin now appears more blended.

That’s not necessary a bad thing, but it’s not my style. Someone seems to like this look, which seems pleasantly nested between what I presumed it might appear like and the original Warner Blu-ray of that Mozart movie.

Nothing is plasticized, but it could have been so much better. But why bother?

Except for the Disney Movie Club, I expect Disney to be out of physical media within a year or two.

Colors and densities seems correct, comfortable, and close to the older Blu-ray. Audio has been tweaked a bit with Dolby Atmos.

I find myself, bothered and bewildered, but in no way bewitched.

To my ethic, a waste of 4k.

Image – 3 (HDR)

Audio – 5 (Dolby Atmos)

Pass / Fail – Fail

Plays nicely with projectors – Yes

Upgrade from Blu-ray – No

Makes use of and works well in 4k – 2.5

RAH
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Published by

Robert Harris

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Gregory Pauswinski

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Wow. I'm really disappointed to hear this. Back in the early days of Blu-Ray, I used to use the Black Pearl Blu-Ray to demo the improvements over DVD.

Thank you for your review, Robert!
 

Robert Harris

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For the record, although this disc will look lovely from a nominal seating distance, I doubt that it holds even 2k information.
 

Malcolm R

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Disney has always had a certain amount of disdain for home video. They loved to crop all their films to full screen for the first years of DVD. Their animated classes on early BLU were digitally scrubbed to death. Their current releases are mostly audio-impaired, with very low levels and limited LFE. Their product has always been somewhat lackluster, so if they were to stop releasing discs I'm not sure it would be a huge loss.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Do we even consider this as a foreshadowing of the similar quality for all the other POTC 4k releases?

In the sense that the films were completed as 2K DIs, and that Disney is far more likely to upscale those to 4K rather than essentially put the films through post-production again to rescan the 35mm elements and rebuild the special effects in 4K resolution, yes.
 

DanH1972

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In the sense that the films were completed as 2K DIs, and that Disney is far more likely to upscale those to 4K rather than essentially put the films through post-production again to rescan the 35mm elements and rebuild the special effects in 4K resolution, yes.
But with "Curse," Disney even managed to make the ancient 2k DI look worse than the old Blu-ray. At the same time they actually bothered to erase a film crew member caught in a shot towards the end of the film. That's the ONLY good thing you could say about this 4k disc.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Well, I suppose this is one way for Disney to get us off their backs about not releasing catalog titles on 4K discs... :rolleyes:

_Man_
 

Dave Moritz

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This is bad news and very unfortunate as I was really looking forward to a good transfer on 4K disc. Thank you for the honest review Robert as it is very much appreciated. Looks like I will be not buying this title unless they rerelease the title with a better looking transfer to a 4K disc. And unless Disney does a good job on the other titles I will not be purchasing them and will not repurchase them in digital. If Disney moves away from physical media I will shift my spending to those who are still offering and buying back catalog titles still available on blu-ray. The part of this that concerns me more is that Disney as we know purchased 20th Century Fox and will this extend to Fox titles as well?

Pirates Of The Caribbean 1a.jpg
 

Robert Harris

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Before Disney gets skewered on-line for this release, I thought it might be illuminating to take a look into what might have been involved per corporate decision making.

For the record, I have no direct information, but can speculate as to what may be involved.

What we know:

The film was shot on 35/4 and finished as a 2k DI, combining all of the various layers of effects (presumably as digitally derived dupes) into a final form, which was digitally recorded back to film.

What we don’t know:

Were daily selects of production footage scanned, and the entire project completed digitally before recording back to film?

Was the film cut and conformed at some point, creating an original negative with effects shots cut in?

If this was the case, then the studio (there are no people involved - it’s always the studio) could have returned to that cut & conformed negative, performed a new 4k scan, and presented the film in that manner - with production footage in 4k and effects in 2k. There’s a bit more complication here, but let’s leave things simple.

If “the studio” really wanted to go all in, the effects could be re-worked in 4k, but that’s pushing things.

So…

If there’s a c & c OCN/effects neg, that would be the way to go.

If there isn’t, then there would have been two potential moves.

Up-Rez the film from 2 to 4k, with no further changes;

Release in 4k, as has been done;

Do a new 2k release without additional image manipulation.

I don’t have the answers, but would not have gone the current route.

Time to get out some old American Cinematographers and Cinefex and peruse articles.
 

titch

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Josh Steinberg

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The Three Colors trilogy was shot and completed on film, so there was an actual element with more detail to go back and scan and create a new master from.

Although Pirates was shot on film, it went through post production digitally at 2K resolution and the final product was a 2K digital intermediate. There is nothing to go back to that can improve upon that unless Disney were to essentially remake the movie by scanning all of the raw film again and then re-editing it and redoing every single editorial choice and every single special effect. That’s just not gonna happen.

There’s well over a decade’s worth of movies now that were completed as 2K digital masters and they are what they are. UHD has a wider color space than BD, and home video authoring is better now than it was a decade ago, so there is certainly marginal potential for improvement on a lot of those titles and maybe the occasional major improvement if the original Blu-ray was terribly done.