- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Capt. Jack Sparrow’s latest movie, despite being savaged by critics, delivered another cinematic blockbuster earlier this year that now debuts on the ultra high-definition format in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 137 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $30.99).

Well, it somehow required a pair of directors, Espen Sandberg and Joachim Roenning, to bring the sixth, slightly stale sequel of the franchise to life and pack it with familiar characters, plenty of wisecracking and some impressive digitally enhanced action.

Specifically, the subplot-packed story features a hunt for the Trident of Poseidon to help Capt. Jack (Johnny Depp) survive against an undead villain named Capt. Salazar (devilishly played by Javier Bardem) and his rotting minions looking for revenge against the bumbling pirate.

Old favorites such as Capt. Jack’s nemesis Capt. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), his first mates Joshamee Gibbs (Kevin McNally) and glimpses of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Shaw (Keira Knightley) show up while the next generation of swashbuckler Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) and astronomer Kaya Scodelario (Carina Smyth) offer a fizzling romance.

The veteran actors and a steady stream of exciting action scenes keep the film moving along, highlighted by Capt. Jack battling a guillotine, poking at grisly ghost sharks, resurrecting the Black Peal form it bottle prison and fighting in a sea-splitting “10 Commandments” denouement.

Heck, if “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” can essentially get a reboot with the return of beloved characters and a near rehash of its 1977 debut, then why not give Capt. Jack and his scalawags a chance at a new life through this enjoyable, although retreaded, adventure.

4K UHD in action: Offered as an upscale of the 2K master with added high dynamic range, the 2160p presentation only occasionally shines against too many dark scenes to the point that I preferred the Blu-ray version of the film for its warmer color palette and less aggressive lighting spikes.

However, viewers will still appreciate the sparse sunlight illuminating an early underwater scene as well as the decayed wood on any of the pirate ships’ water-beaten planking.

Further astounding detail will be found watching Capt. Salazar’s slow-motion floating hair, Capt. Jack’s head twisting around a guillotine blade, a beautiful tropical green jungle, and shots of the Black Pearl vessel rising from the water with a sunset behind her.

Also, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack booms throughout and really brings the film to life in a home entertainment center, especially when enhancing the sounds of the high seas and cannon fire.

Best extras: Viewers will need to access the Blu-ray disc to find a 47-minute overview of the production broken up into seven parts. They offer mostly standard, behind-the-scenes fare and interviews with all of the primary cast and crew.

Most notable of the segments was a sit-down between the new actors to the franchise — Miss Scodelario and Mr. Thwaites — as they interview one another about becoming part of the film, offer memories on the set and discuss meeting Mr. Depp.

I also enjoyed the 14-minute exploration of Mr. Bardem and the special-effects magic behind his evil Capt. Salazar. Mr. Bardem rationalized his character’s motivations as having the bravado of a matador during his life and a wounded bull in his undead state in his very over-the-top performance.

Exceptional make-up and visual effects also worked together to bring him and his crew — in a grotesque state of a mid-exploded heads, torsos and appendages — to life.

The overview also offers a short, fun interview on the set with Sir Paul McCartney, who briefly plays Capt. Jack’s Uncle Jack.

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