The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Universal - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 117 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish DTS 5.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Nick Frost, Rhys Ifans, Kenneth Branagh, Chris O’Dowd, Tom Sturridge, Jack Davenport
Written & Directed by: Richard Curtis
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 13, 2010
"1 boat. 8 DJs. No morals"
From the creator of Love Actually and Notting Hill comes a trip back to the freewheeling, free-loving ’60s when the very rock music that inspired a generation was censored by the government. When a group of rebellious deejays decides to defy the ban, they take to the seas to broadcast music and mayhem to millions of adoring fans. Featuring a soundtrack that includes The Who, The Kinks, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and many more.
Carl (Tom Sturridge) arrives on the pirate radio ship, Radio Rock, after being sent to stay with his godfather, and ship’s captain, Quentin, by his mother (Bill Nighy), after being expelled from school. Here he meets Radio Rock's crew of rogue disc jockeys, led by The Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a devout rock-loving American, the fast talking Doctor Dave (Nick Frost) and the affable 'Simple' Simon Swafford (Chris O'Dowd). Angus (Rhys Darby), Midnight Mark (Tom Wisdom), Dark side Gavin, and the mysterious reclusive late-night DJ Smooth Bob (Ralph Brown) round out the cache of faceless voices that fill the airwaves. Serving as the ship's crew are the shy lesbian cook Felicity (Katherine Parkinson) and radio assistants, Harold (Ike Hamilton) and Carl's bunkmate, the appropriately nicknamed Thick Kevin (Tom Brooke). This motley crew shares an affinity for rock and roll and a fervent belief in the spoils of living the free life that it preaches to them. Carl is quickly exposed to the free lovin’ life aboard ship and after a few bumps fits in quite nicely. Radio Rock's controversial on-air antics have ruffled the feathers of government minister, Dormandy, (Kenneth Branagh), who instructs his subordinate, Twatt (Jack Davenport) to find a way to permanently silence Radio Rock, despite its popularity among the pop hungry masses who listen wherever and whenever. Twatt devises a way to enact a law that will make pirate radio illegal. After it goes into effect, and much to Dormandy’s chagrin, the rag tag band of broadcasters refuses to be silenced and opts to march on. This invokes Dormandy’s wrath as he turns Twatt and the local police loose in order to see that justice is served by arresting those aboard ship Radio Rock. Captain Quentin has a trick or two up his sleeve as he has no intention of allowing himself or Radio Rock to go quietly. Rock n Roll!!
I only recently heard of this film via a trailer on another Universal HE Blu-ray I had in for review and had little knowledge or expectations of Pirate Radio. Loosely based on the pirate radio broadcasters of the mid 1960’s this is an offbeat comedy filled with quirky characters and idiosyncratic situations that prove entertaining. I generally get a kick out of British style humor and this one had its moments. Its message is an embedded one that isn’t overplayed as it never feels like an ode to pirate radio. I thought it came off as a light hearted comedy focused on this era while portraying this band of similar yet different people that dared to buck the system. As it turns out they weren’t alone. It’s not a perfectly executed film but its heart and laughs are in the right place.
The rating is for language, some sexual content, brief nudity and smoking.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Pirate Radio comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Home Entertainment featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 30 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio that has an average bitrate of 3.3 mbps.
A variety of colors are effectively used in this film to help set the tone/setting based upon the time period and characters depicted in it. The color range can vary from being inanimate to vivid with warm vitality. Skin tones are naturally balmy with subtle yet descriptive variation among to cast. Images onscreen are exquisitely detailed and sharp with superb depth of field and visible texture. This is essentially the case regardless of the camera’s perspective. Contrast is stable and blacks are deep with revealing delineation that provides excellent perceptibility during scenes shot in lower lighting. The video has a clean, pristine quality that enhances dimensionality and offers a looking through a window effect that appeals to those with large screen displays.
The lossless audio soundtrack capably delivers the elements within the recording and sounds very good overall. High level detail provides plenty of depth and audible texture to voices while enhancing the audibility of subtle background sounds within the mix. Being a film driven predominantly by dialogue didn’t afford this presentation many opportunities for active surround sound. Its use was primarily to create ambient environmental sounds and add a bit more envelopment and depth to the excellent 60’s era music featured in the story.
- Feature commentary with writer/director Richard Curtis, producer Hilary Bevan Jones, actors Nick Frost and Chris O’Dowd
- (HD) 16 deleted scenes with optional intro by director Richard Curtis
- (HD) Featurettes – 6 segments totaling 19 minutes:
- Tuning in
- 7” of Heaven
- All at sea
- Getting ship shape
- Hitting the decks
- Mark’s love den
- BD-Live enabled
- Additional features:
- My Scenes
- pocket BLU
Pirate Radio is an offbeat British comedy filled with quirky characters and idiosyncratic situations that prove entertaining. It isn’t the type of film that may appeal to everyone but I got a kick out of it. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition video, admirable DTS-HD Master Audio sound and an above average bonus feature set that is highlighted by a decent filmmaker commentary track. Pirate Radio on Blu-ray Disc comes recommended for fans but I would urge those not familiar with it to rent first.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
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Looks like it could be a decent rental and quite honestly with the sparse amount of new releases for April, I'll take whatever I can get.
Thanks Ralph for the review.
It's been available via OnDemand for the past week, for those who don't want to wait.
Thanks for the info.
Personally I don't watch the majority of films when there released in theaters but wait for them to come out on blu-ray.
I like the blu-ray PQ & SQ on my HT better than going to the movie house so OnDemand doesn't remotely measure up.
Very fun movie to watch, and the ending was quite a surprise. Like whoa, didn't see that coming. Unique, charismatic characters throughout. Quirky, funny, sexy, rebellious...
PQ 4 out of 5, SQ 4 out of 5, Film 3.5 out of 5.
"Carl (Tom Sturridge) arrives on the pirate radio ship, Radio Rock, after being sent to stay with his godfather, and ship’s captain, Quentin, by his mother (Bill Nighy)..."
Thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and, for me, much much better than most critics had rated it. I thought the extensive deleted scenes included some wonderful "bits" as the director describes them. Don't skip them if you enjoy the movie.
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