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Currentfilm.com Review:

The latest film from director Richard Curtis ("Notting Hill"), "Pirate Radio" is based upon a true story - the film focuses on a boat in the '60's, parked in the sea. The boat was one of many that illegally beamed back pop music to the masses (as British radio stations barely offered pop music.)

The boat - lead by Captain Quentin (Bill Nighy) and including DJ's Gavin (Rhys Ifans), Bob (Ralph Brown), Simon (Chris O'Dowd), The Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Dr. Dave (Nick Frost) and Angus (Rhys Darby) - they spend their days and nights on the boat Radio Rock blaring tunes and having fun.

Soon enough, a surprise visitor comes on board in the form of Carl (Tom Sturridge), an inexperienced teenager who becomes the focus of the crew and whose prospective leads the audience through a good deal fo the story. However, the British government doesn't want the music spreading into the population and seeks to gain control over the pirate radio ships. Sir Alistair Dormandy (Kenneth Branagh) and sidekick Twatt (har har) (played by Jack Davenport) become the villains of the piece, doing what they can to take the pirate radio stations off the airwaves for good.

The film is a mash-up of a few different formulas (underdogs against the establishment story, fish out of water story, etc), but director Curtis certainly does his best with a talented cast (although Branagh goes overboard in his role and Sturridge offers a somewhat bland performance, especially for a rather major character.)

While "Pirate" is moderately entertaining and provides a reasonably good portrayal of the era, the picture does feel a little long and wandering at 117 minutes - 100 minutes flat could have made for a tighter, more consistently energetic picture.

Still, despite a few flaws, "Pirate" manages to be a mostly fun time and offers a terrific soundtrack of classic tunes.


VIDEO: The film is presented in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC) by Universal. Video quality is perfectly satisfactory, as the lower-budget comedy looks probably close to about as good as it's going to look on home video on this Blu-Ray edition. Sharpness and detail aren't outstanding, but while there are a few soft moments, most of the film offered perfectly respectable definition and clarity. Only a few minor traces of edge enhancement were spotted, as were a few print flaws. Otherwise, the film appeared smooth and clean. Colors looked warm and bright, with excellent saturation and no smearing or other faults.

SOUND: The film is presented in DTS-HD 5.1. The film's sound design was purely a "comedy mix", with understandably little for the rear speakers to do aside from provide some slight ambience and reinforcement for the score (I have to imagine the score - in terms of music licensing rights - alone was a significant amount of the budget.) Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and punchy, full-sounding score.

EXTRAS: Commentary with director Richard Curtis, actors Nick Frost and Chris O'Dowd and producer Hilary Bevan Jones, over an hour of deleted scenes (including three deleted scenes not included on the DVD) and six featurettes (about 20 minutes worth of promotional featurettes - which would have been best as one longer piece.) The title is also BD-Live enabled.

Final Thoughts: Still, despite a few flaws, "Pirate" manages to be a mostly fun time and features a solid cast. The Blu-Ray edition boasts excellent video quality, fine audio quality and a solid set of supplemental features.

Film Grade
The Film B
DVD Grades
Video B+
Audio: B
Extras: B

DVD Information

Pirate Radio (Blu-Ray)
Universal Home Entertainment
DTS-HD 5.1 (English)
117 minutes
Subtitles: English SDH/French/Spanish
Rated R
Available At Amazon.com: Pirate Radio (Blu-Ray)