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Y’aaaarrrrrrr! Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day! To celebrate, today Walt Disney Studios released Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales on Digital HD and 4K Ultra HD. My family was happy that the storyline returned to the continuing saga of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann’s legacy, and the inclusion of Javier Bardem’s truly wicked Captain Salazar makes this film a family favorite.
In the interest of full disclosure, I did not see this movie in the theater earlier this summer, but my husband and sons did while I was out of town attending a friend’s military retirement. GeekMom Marziah had the chance to screen the film over Memorial Day weekend and offers her opinions for fellow geek parents here. We don’t watch these films expecting to see the next great Oscar winners or to wax poetic about maritime history. Nonetheless, my husband and sons thoroughly enjoyed the fun swashbuckling and continuation of imaginative intersections of seafaring legend, in particular the legends of the Devil’s Triangle, which we assume is the Bermuda Triangle. My boys were very wonderful about letting me watch the digital version last evening without spoilers…
…except for one.
My oldest son made it clear that Javier Bardem’s Captain Salazar had “special hair.” We will learn more about the special hair momentarily.
As is the case in Disney’s action movies, including those in the Star Wars and Marvel cinematic worlds, there’s awesome cutting edge technology and it was impressive to see how well it plays out not only on the big screen, but also on our smaller screens (in our family’s case, a 65″ Samsung HDTV). While watching this film, I remember thinking, “I need to learn more about how Disney achieved this <insert Imagineering or CGI capability here>!” Luckily for me, for several of those technologies, there were documentary shorts included with the digital download that offered more details. Read on to hear more about how Disney again set the bar for technology.
“The Matador & The Bull: Secrets of Salazar & The Silent Mary“
In this 13-minute short, we focus on the addition of Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem (did I mention how much I love his character in Eat, Pray, Love?) to the Pirates franchise, as Spanish ship Captain Armando Salazar. He portrays the leader of a ship full of undead, the Silent Mary. At the beginning of the film, the Silent Mary is stuck in the Devil’s Triangle, where the crew assassinates other pirates as their ships wander into the Triangle.
At a certain point in the plot, the Silent Mary breaks free of its grounding on the rocks of the Devil’s Triangle and Captain Salazar leads his crew in search of Jack Sparrow. This is a key part of the plot, with quite a bit of visual effects technology that went into the crew, their weapons, and even their ship, being undead.
In the documentary short “The Matador & The Bull: Secrets of Salazar & The Silent Mary,” the crew delves into the concept-art-turned-technology of making the Silent Mary’s crew this twisted combination of undead and un…complete?
They start by showing the concept art, which my sons got a kick out of, because they showed numerous Captain Salazars with holes in assorted locations on his head. Then they spent time on the characters’ makeup jobs. Bardem’s makeup took around three hours per day! While some characters had CGI applied to them, others needed more makeup applied for more realistic closeup shots. Using a ton of blue- and green-screen technology, viewers can see the filming done before the dozen-or-so layers of CGI was applied, including Captain Salazar’s hair that conveys this still-underwater flowiness.
Another thing that our family enjoyed watching in this documentary short was the series of interviews with the crew about Javier Bardem’s idea on how to effectively portray Captain Salazar: as this juxtaposition of the living version of Captain Salazar as a “matador” and the dead version as an injured “bull.” If you didn’t know about this, watch the movie through this perspective and Salazar’s character will take on a whole new meaning! Here’s a video clip teaser for you to enjoy!
“Deconstructing the Ghost Sharks”
The other favorite documentary in our family was about the “ghost sharks,” the undead sharks that were kept in captivity on the Silent Mary, to be launched like torpedoes as Jack Sparrow and Henry Turner are feverishly rowing towards an island shore. This is a much shorter clip, at less than 5 minutes, but does include interviews with the CGI programmers who captured the sharks’ motions right down to capturing how sharks would move without certain fins… although they did exercise some creative license with all of the missing parts, not just of the sharks, but also of the humans and their sailing vessels: they were ALL missing parts yet could still walk, swim, and float.
“Wings Over the Caribbean”
This isn’t related to the awesome CGI secrets revealed in the bonus features, but I enjoyed the short about Paul McCartney’s cameo in the film, playing Jack Sparrow’s Uncle Jack. Paul McCartney and Johnny Depp have been friends for years, and for this fifth installment of the franchise, Depp invited McCartney to have a small part as a fellow prisoner awaiting execution.
I grew up in a house with parents who are serious fans of The Beatles. I have memories of Sunday mornings waking up to a selection from Apple records on the photograph, eventually graduating to compact disc while I was in high school as The Beatles discography graduated to the new technology.
When we watched the Blu-ray last night, I caught right away that the neighboring prisoner was played by Paul. My friend watching with our family didn’t believe me. They did a great job with the makeup!
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is available now for digital download through Disney Movies Anywhere, iTunes, Amazon, and Vudu… not to mention through your favorite cable and satellite providers… with an MSRP of $19.99. Want to wait for the physical DVD and Blu-ray copies? They will be available on October 3rd through your favorite retailers. The DVD/Blu-ray combination packs will often come with a digital copy, if you’re willing to wait.