Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Ultra HD Review

Ralph Potts review the fifth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series that follows Captain Jack Sparrow, as he searches for the trident of Poseidon, while being pursued by an undead sea captain and his crew.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

92

Details:

Studio and Year: Disney – 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 129 minutes
Genre: Action/Adventure

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC @ 1000 NITS
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos7.1.4/TrueHD 7.1, Spanish/French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin R. McNally, Geoffrey Rush
Directed by: Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg
Music by: Geoff Zanelli
Written by: Jeff Nathanson
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: October 3, 2017

“Captain Jack Returns…”



My Take:

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales finds down-on-his-luck Captain Jack feeling the winds of ill fortune blowing strongly his way when deadly ghost sailors, led by the terrifying Captain Salazar (Bardem), escape from the Devil’s Triangle bent on killing every pirate at sea—notably Jack.

I know I know, ANOTHER Pirates of the Caribbean film? I have been a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean films since seeing Curse of the Black Pearl back in 2003. With the exception of the last two installments I have managed to catch them all during their theatrical runs and have owned them on home video since they became available. Dead Men Tell No Tales brings in a new writer and director, which unfortunately does little to bring an air of freshness to the series. The narrative is uninspired, telling a story that revolves around three subplots, each of which relies on Captain Jack to serves as its foundation/catalyst.

Not one is particularly interesting or engaging enough to keep things afloat (pun intended), and to make matters worse there is an attempt to tug at our heartstrings which completely fails. Having said that, as a fan of the central characters and overall theme of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, I still managed to glean some enjoyment out of watching Dead Men Tell No Tales. The production elements are excellent and the action is typical but fun nonetheless. Depp is spot on as usual, and Javier Bardem is every bit as good as the scene stealing Captain Salazar. New comers Kaya Scodelario and Brenton Thwaites don’t add nor take anything away from the film, and all the returning players, which include Geoffrey Rush and Kevin R. McNally reprise their roles with enthusiasm. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales feels very passe, and leads one to question the need for a fifth film.

Be that as it may, I continue to enjoy them, at least on some level, with Curse of the Black Pearl remaining my favorite.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for action/adventure violence and some suggestive material.

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.**

UHD Presentation: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

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  • Visual Impact: 

 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Level of immersion: 
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Ultra HD Blu-ray has finally been released and eager enthusiasts are ready and willing to see what it has to offer. For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Disney featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless that has an average bitrate of 64 Mbps, and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 4.3 Mbps.

For its presentation in Ultra HD it was rendered from a 3.4K source and finished on a 2K DI. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a fantasy/action/period based film that isn’t boldly colorful, relying on stylized visuals that employ stark contrast, reserved chromatic elements and lots of CGI. I found that this Ultra HD rendering makes the most of its elements.

The 1080p transfer looks terrific but this rendering takes it up a notch with a discernible increase in detail, and emboldened highlights, both light and dark. This is readily apparent in the sequence in the town square during chapter 12 and later when the trio of Jack, Henry, and Carina land on the island with the dead in hot pursuit. The beautiful earth toned colors, shimmering water, and stone buildings set against the sunny sky look terrific. Close ups reveal oodles of fine detail and abounding textures, especially on Salazar’s ship. Wide angle shots and the contrasting cinematography, going from brightly lit exteriors to the variety of dark, shadowy sequences look great in Ultra HD. I found the application of high dynamic range to be spot on and quite complimentary.

Some of the best examples of the presentation’s effective use of HDR comes during the finale where things escalate before landing on the hidden island, a scene which looks gorgeous. The HDR highlight comes during chapter 16 when Captain Salazar tells his story via flashbacks. The brilliant highlights in the muzzle flashes from the cannons, explosions as they find their mark, and the lighting that illuminates the sea/ships from above look terrific against the sequences sepia toned aesthetic. The scenes shot at night, or in the low light of dawn or dusk, are equally rewarding, delivering a noticeably dimensional image, with excellent delineation.

While Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales looks great on either platform, seeing it in Ultra HD makes for a more involving viewing experience.

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be an entertaining listening experience that made excellent use of the platform. The immersive mix compliments the already top-notch soundtrack and enhances the experience of watching the film. The attention to detail here is noticeably on display, giving you a taste of what is to come early on, with the introduction to Captain Salazar and his crew. The use of audio objects placed above and at ear level is a mix of atmospherics, discrete effects and music. This is done to excellent effect and creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. The film’s active moments, swallow you up as the revolving, rotating and all-encompassing surround sound comes at you from all sides.

There is also much to enjoy in scenes that aren’t actively intense as smaller elements in the background are articulated and dimensionally full. In general, this Dolby Atmos mix made for an involving surround sound experience. I enjoyed the balance of atmosphere and discrete object placement, which complimented the source material.

* It should be noted that the Atmos track appears to be mixed at a lower volume than the DTS-HD MA track on the Blu-ray. I can’t ascertain whether this is compression related. Listening at 7 to 8db above where I normally listen brought it closer, but I still found it lacking the dynamic punch of the DTS-HD MA sound on the Blu-ray.*

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Resolution/Clarity:
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  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:

 

Audio: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialogue Reproduction: 

 

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales comes to Blu-ray Disc from Disney Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 33 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.3 Mbps.

This is an excellent high definition rendering that sports plenty of fine detail and crisp definition that provides discerning dimensional perspective. Colors range from warm and vivid to cool, reserved and almost tonally neutral. This is obviously a creative decision that draws definitive visual boundaries and works quite well. Contrast is strong and blacks are deep without compromise to delineation. Shadowy areas exhibit excellent depth of field and visible gradational stages. I didn’t see any signs of video degrading artifacts or extraneous compression related noise. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales looks great on Blu-ray.

The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack doesn’t disappoint and sounds terrific. This is an active audio presentation that utilizes the entire system to create a theater like experience. Sound staging is quite good as both the front and rear channels are seamlessly integrated. Sound effects traverse the room during the ship to ship battle sequences. Dynamics are energy filled and impact felt with discerning articulation and clarity. This is an aggressive mix that makes regular use of the subwoofer to accentuate its potent dynamics. The result is that when called upon, effects resonate with tactile low bass impact. The quality of the bass is first rate as it is fills the room with clean, hard hitting low frequency energy. Dialog has refining presence with clear vocal character and excellent room penetration. This is an entertaining audio presentation that compliments the film while making for an excellent home theater experience.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Ultra HD Blu-ray
    Disc 2: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Blu-ray
    • Dead Men Tell More Tales: The Making of a New Adventure – Get unique access into the making of this exciting new “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie with this collection of revealing and entertaining stories that you can view individually or as a “play all.”
    o A Return to the Sea – Two talented filmmakers, Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, team up to bring “Pirates of the Caribbean” back to the screen. Hear how this new chapter of the tale was developed.
    o Telling Tales: A Sit-down with Brenton & Kaya – Meet Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario, the young actors behind Henry and Carina. The two sit down together for a revealing conversation on becoming a part of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film franchise and its continuing legacy.
    o The Matador & The Bull: Secrets of Salazar & The Silent Mary – Oscar-winner Javier Bardem reveals more about his menacing new character and the foreboding ship he helms.
    o First Mate Confidential – Go on-set along with Kevin McNally, the affable actor behind the feisty Mr. Gibbs, Captain Jack’s reliable first mate from all five movies.
    o Deconstructing the Ghost Sharks – Peer below the depths at how these ferocious, mythical monsters were designed and brought to life.
    o Wings Over the Caribbean – Captain Jack has a memorable encounter with Sir Paul McCartney – rock ‘n’ roll royalty.
    o An Enduring Legacy – Take one more look at the “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” experience and the impact of “Pirates of the Caribbean” — the movies, the ride and beyond.
    • Bloopers of the Caribbean
    • Jerry Bruckheimer Photo Diary
    • Deleted Scenes
    o Highwayman
    o Henry Turner Learns a Lesson from Captain Jack
    o A Whale in Poseidon’s Tomb
    o Alternate Coda: Murtogg & Mullroy “Flogging”
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is the fifth installment in the popular film franchise. It introduces a few new characters while essentially following the same narrative formula as seen in the other Pirates films. As such, it feels pretty passé, however, as a fan I managed to find aspects of it to be enjoyable. It comes to Blu-ray in the Ultra HD Combo Pack from Disney featuring an excellent Ultra HD rendering, top notch high definition video, engaging lossless surround sound, including a terrific Dolby Atmos immersive listening experience and a fair supplemental package that looks behind the scenes. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is tough to recommend as a blind buy, but, if you enjoyed the last few installments in the series I suspect this will appeal to you as well. My advice would be to start with a rental and go from there.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems