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Blu-ray Reviewer
15,225 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·

Check out our review of this entertaining underwater sea thriller starring Jude Law. In order to make good with his former employers, a submarine captain takes a job with a shadowy backer to search the depths of the Black Sea for a submarine rumored to be loaded with gold.

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



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



Studio and Year: Universal - 2014
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 115 minutes
Genre: Drama/Thriller

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, David Threlfall
Directed by: Kevin MacDonald
Music by: Ilan Eshkeri
Written by:Dennis Kelly
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 5, 2015

"Brave the deep. Find the gold. Trust no one"

My Take:

Black Sea centers on a rogue submarine captain (Jude Law) who, after being laid off from a salvage company, pulls together a misfit crew to go after a sunken treasure rumored to be lost in the depths of the Black Sea. As the captain and his crew embark on their expedition, greed and desperation take control on board their claustrophobic vessel – and the increasing uncertainty of the mission causes the men to turn on each other and fight for their own survival.

Black Sea is more or less a typical blue collar tale set in the claustrophobic undersea confines of a submarine. In this case the blue collar aspect of the story involves a group of former seamen who for various reasons have been forced out of the life/careers at sea which overtime has cost them on personal levels. Now bitter, older and struggling to make ends meet an opportunity has come their way which could not only make them rich but could strike at blow at the wealthy establishment that tossed them aside.

Led by the salty and hardnosed Captain Robinson, the ragtag group of twelve which is comprised of half Brits and half Russians set out on their quest with each looking at an equal share of what is rumored to have been lying on the sea bed for decades. The variables are many and the risks are high but for each man, well worth it. Along for the ride is the representative of the financier who is backing the expedition and an 18 year old kid (recently befriended by Captain Robinson) who has nowhere else to go.

With so much at stake and an equal share divided among them it isn’t long before things begin to break down among the men. As they draw closer to their goal and the hope of its discovery things escalate leaving them facing dire circumstances. Amidst the chaos comes a revelation that threatens to derail not only the mission but could leave them all trapped at the bottom of the sea.

I had hoped for a better story, with a bit more suspense and palpable tension especially considering the setting for the film. Having said that I wouldn’t want to give the impression that I was disappointed with Black Sea. The cache of characters are built upon stereotypical archetypes but I felt that they worked well within the narrative’s construct. I thought that the concept of desperate men, put together in the cramped confines of the submarine, worked well. This coincides nicely with the unraveling nature of the proceedings and appropriate use of action/thrills/suspense to drive the thematic tone of the plotline. It gets a little hokey in the final act but manages to hold on.

The script’s character driven elements are portrayed capably by the cast, most notably Jude Law, who in my opinion hasn’t lost a step over the years. Law is supported well by the performances of Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy. Black Sea isn’t a perfect film but it’s got enough going for it to satisfy discerning genre fans.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for language throughout, some graphic images and violence.

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.**

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

  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialogue Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element):
  • DSU Rating * (non-rated element):

Video: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:

Black Sea comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 34 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3 Mbps.

This film’s visual style doesn’t lend itself to eye catching color or infinite levels of dimension but this is a creative decision that doesn’t reflect negatively on its presentation Resolution is excellent as images are clearly rendered with appreciable detail and discerning nuance during close ups. The filtered chromatic range is purposefully limited to muted primary colors and softer secondary hues. That coupled with the drab lighting schemes and dark cinematography makes for a visually pallid but thematically affecting look. Skin tones among the cast vary and range from Rosy to pale while appearing textural and predominantly lifelike. Blacks are deep and dynamic and shadow detail is excellent. I didn’t see any signs of video related artifacts in this whistle clean high definition presentation that looks spectacular.

This 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is fairly active and features an engaging surround mix that has extended dynamic range that positively renders the elements in the recording. Where appropriate the mix transform the listening area into a three dimensional sound field filled via immersive surround activity that mates perfectly with the events unfolding onscreen. Low frequency effects produce deep bass that rumbles with tactile authority. Dialogue is reproduced with lucid expression and exacting clarity that produced just the slightest hint of sibilance in the upper registers. This is a well-crafted sound design that features high level sonic detail, spot on directional correlation and solid bass extension.

Bonus Features:
  • (HD) A dive into the Black Sea – 5 minute making of featurette
  • Audio commentary with director Kevin MacDonald
  • Bonus DVD
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Black Sea doesn’t resonate quite as deeply as the better films in its genre but manages to prove entertaining thanks to Kevin MacDonald’s apt direction and a solid performance from star June Law. It comes to Blu-ray from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition video and engaging lossless surround sound. I am not certain that Black Sea warrants a blind buy however it deserves a place at the top of your Blu-ray rental queue.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

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JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
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Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

1,755 Posts
Saw this in the iTunes store on my Apple TV and had not heard of it but now that you've reviewed and I will probably rent it this weekend. I've spent $5.99 on worse things in my life.

Thanks Ralph,

Blu-ray Reviewer
15,225 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·

859 Posts
Being a submariner I'm looking forward to watching this one soon. Thanks for the review Ralph!
As a former submariner myself I got a copy from Redbox and was pleasantly surprised. I totally agree with Ralph's review.

Getting the new guy to wash the windows etc was a standard joke. Like having him retrieve Fallopian
tubes or a bucket of saturated steam.

Premium Member
24,375 Posts
I ended up watching the Black Sea last night and kept Terminator Genysis for tonight and I actually enjoyed the Black Sea. It actually kept me entertained right to the end. I don't mind Jude Law he's got some good movies. A good rental thanks Ralph for the review.


1,608 Posts
Blast from the past.... but I was watching a movie, I forget which, it had a preview of the man with the iron fists, So I buy that and it has a preview for Black Sea and I say ok, nothing else out there right now and buy it. It was something to watch alright. I hate water movies. Every time I watch one I always wake up thinking Im drowning, or how much it would suck to have to take that last breath. Anyways this one definitely fell short in a few areas, the biggest being comedy. Not saying it should be a comedy but the lines just didnt hit. I watched this on my newly built speakers in stereo, Bass hit hard. Half Brits, Half Russions, and a Scottish captian? Ive realized I only like Ben Mendolson in older movies. One of his best roles to me was when he played a crack head in Killing Them Softly. Cant stand him now.
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