Blu-ray Review: BLACK SAILS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON

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BLACK SAILS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON was created by Jonathan Steinberg and Robert Levine and executive produced by Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes partners Brad Fuller and Andrew Form. The series stars Toby Stephens, Hannah New, Luke Arnold, Zach McGowan, Jessica Parker Kennedy, Clara Paget and Mark Ryan.

The series begins in 1715 when The Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean is at its apex and centers around the former British colony of New Providence Island, a lawless territory controlled by a few dozen of the most notorious pirate captains in history. The beautiful Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New), daughter of the local smuggling kingpin is the one who runs this small trade community/criminal haven where pirates loot are turned into profit and the most feared among these pirates is Captain Flint (Stephens). As this first season plays out, we watch Flint go from a ruthless pirate to a man that shows sympathy and compassion. His own crew doesn’t trust his softer side and ends up not wanting to follow his lead.

There’s also John Silver (Arnold), a shady charmer who ends up getting his hands on a page torn from a book that supposedly will lead to treasure. Oh and guess what, everybody in the land is looking for this page. He also ends up being a part of Captain Flint’s crew and really knows how to play people against one another. The entire first season pretty much focuses on the whereabouts of this lost page and the treasure.

Captain Charles Vane (McGowan) is this rebellious pirate who seems to be on a different kind of journey even though he ends up agreeing to this uneasy alliance that is formed. This guy it tough and we end up watching how tough and ruthless he actually can be but, he stills has this soft spot for Eleanor, even though the two can’t stand each other.

There’s also the beautiful prostitute Max (Kennedy) who betrays her close friend Eleanor and ends up getting the raw end of a very bad deal. She’s beaten, gang raped, jailed and ultimately she lives through all of this and comes out in a better situation. There’s a number of other main characters here but you see what I’m getting at. Each one has their own time to shine, story to tell and not all of them make it to the end of the first season. The British Navy also plays a small part in this story and I imagine it’ll have an even bigger of a role in the second season.

I’ve been a huge fan of several of the STARZ original series and Black Sails is definitely the latest on that list. It’s well written and definitely character driven and is honestly a slow burn. The entire season focuses on this lost page that promises treasure and it takes until the final episode of season one for this treasure to be located but not yet claimed. Black Sails isn’t an action driven drama or anything like that, instead it focuses on these interesting characters, their relationships with each other and of course this tropical paradise location they call home. Hey, this location is amazing, and then there’s those cool pirates ships to top that off. I’m not sure how accurate these characters are because these guys and girls seem more civilized than what I would have imagined them being back then. All in all, you still get into these interesting characters and their own selfish agendas. Everybody is literally in it for themselves in this series. Something else I really like about the series is the fitting theme by Bear McCreary who has delivered fantastic scores for other popular series like Battlestar Galactica, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Constantine and The Walking Dead. McCreary has delivered some really memorable and catchy themes over the past decade or so and is a truly talented musician.

The front of the case features a lenticular cover with the artwork you see up top. The back includes series details, some images and list of extras. Inside the case is a thick fold out that features the main characters on each page. The discs simply slide in tightly in their own individual sleeves and could also be a little stubborn to slide out at times. I don’t like this because you have to be careful getting your finger prints on the discs. Inserting each disc, the menu screens were simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were both crisp and clear.

Bottom line is, Black Sails: The Complete First Season is a gritty and fascination look at how life might have been for these pirates back in the 1700’s. If you’re burnt out on all those goofy Pirates of the Caribbean movies and couldn’t get into that short-lived, watered down NBC pirate series Crossbones, then be sure you check out Black Sails because it’s a good one, it has a lot going on and is much more of a serious watch. This Blu-ray set releases on January 6th and is worth checking out.

Distributor: Anchor Bay

Run Time: 3 Discs / 8 Episodes / 456 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Languages: English, Spanish and French

Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1)

Blu-ray Audio: Dolby TrueHD 7.1

Special Features: Good Stuff! There’s several featurettes that cover everything from a behind-the-scenes look at the series to the cast going to pirate camp and even the construction of those cool pirates ships.

  • BLACK SAILS: A Look Inside
  • Dress To Kill
  • Pirate Camp
  • Folklore Is Finished: Pirate Politics
  • A Place In History
  • Building The Behemoth
  • Ultraviolet Digital Copy
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