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Captain Phillips - Blu-ray Review

4.5 Stars (out of 5) - Rated PG-13 


The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years. (Buy Now $17.99)


Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Michael Chernus, Max Martini, David Warshofsky, Catherine Keener, John Magaro, Chris Mulkey


Paul Greengrass

Blu-ray Release Date:

January 21, 2014


English, English SDH, French, Spanish


Overall rating weighted as follows:

Audio 40%, Video 40%, Special Features 20%, Movie - its just our opinion so take it with a grain of salt

Audio 4.8 Stars (out of 5)

Dolby and DTS Demo Discs used as basis for comparison

  • Subwoofer – 4.0 Stars
  • Dialog – 5.0 Stars
  • Surround Effects – 5.0 Stars
  • Dynamic Range – 5.0 Stars

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 


The surround sound performance stands out as most impressive on this Blu-ray. The rear speakers always seem to pump out various sounds like doors shutting, seagulls screaming, clanking metal, waves in the ocean, glass breaking, whipping helicopter blades, and blaring sirens and horns from boats. Even when dialog is spoken with a thick accent, is still easily heard and understood. The low end does not get much attention, but it is noticeable when the lifeboat drops, light rumbles of the ship engines, and the booming horns of ships.

Video  4.8 Stars (out of 5)

Spears & Munsil Benchmark Blu-ray Edition used as basis for comparison

  • Color Accuracy  - 4.5 Stars
  • Shadow detail – 4.5 Stars
  • Clarity – 5.0 Stars
  • Skin tones – 5.0 Stars
  • Compression – 5.0 Stars

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC, Resolution: 1080p, Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1, Original Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1


Colors are not vibrant, instead they have a natural tone. Since the film is mostly at sea, the color palette is chiefly blue and gray but you do notice the red and blue paint on the ship, deep blue ocean water, the bright orange lifeboat, and pale blue skies. There are several dark scenes, and details are often lost in the shadows. However, no compression issues were visible in the darkness or during fast panning scenes. The clarity is top notch and make it easy to see pores on skin, individual hairs on beards and arms, and unfortunately you can see all the cavities and tartar buildup on the Somali pirate’s teeth.

Bonus Features 3.5 Stars (out of 5)

  • Audio Commentary: Director Paul Greengrass
  • Capturing Captain Phillips (HD): A three-part feature.
  • Embarkation (20:23) Gives a history of piracy, the true story behind the film, the beginnings of the filmmaking, and more.
  • Full Ahead (24:42) An in depth look at the filming process and general behind the scenes faire.
  • Stand Fast (13:35) Examines shooting inside the lifeboat, the real story behind some of the more dramatic moments in the lifeboat, and other key story elements.

Movie – 4.0 Stars (out of 5)


Captain Philips is a high tension retelling of a true story that brings the emotional stress and confusion of the hijacking to life. This film starts off a little slow, but after about 20 minutes, the stress level increases and only ramps up until the end. These Somali pirates are so terrifying they make Jack Sparrow look like a harmless drunken supermodel. It’s not a surprise to say that Tom Hanks gives an amazing performance as the Captain. In fact the entire cast was great and captured the desperation, danger, and fear of the crew of the Mearsk and even the emotional state of the Somali pirates. It would have been useful if a few details were explained, but maybe they were intentionally left out to make us feel what Captain Philips was feeling. Paul Greengrass used a bit of his trademark “shakey camera” work but it didn’t bother me as much as it normally does. It actually added a little more tension to the film.


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