Black Sails: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)

Black SailsThe highly anticipated pirate adventure, Black Sails, centers on the tales of Captain Flint and his men and takes place twenty years prior to Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic “Treasure Island.” Flint, the most brilliant and most feared pirate captain of his day, takes on a fast-talking young addition to his crew who goes by the name John Silver. Threatened with extinction on all sides, they fight for the survival of New Providence Island, the most notorious criminal haven of its day – a debauched paradise teeming with pirates, prostitutes, thieves and fortune seekers, a place defined by both its enlightened ideals and its stunning brutality.  

Black Sails

The Series  

I first heard of Black Sails from a friend at work. He asked if I had seen any of it and I said no. He then told me about some of the revisionist stuff that they had taken liberties with in terms of modernization and what not. I thought it would be garbage, because Michael Bay produced it, but more on that later. He then told me to watch the first couple of episodes and get a load of what they did to Black Beard (for example). I watched that episode and let out a giant “daaaaaaaaaaaamn!” So it’s like that now? Yes, indeed it is like that now.

The year is 1715 and the most feared Captain of the lawless seas is Flint. Captain Flint. He is played by Toby Stephens and this is a role Toby was meant to play. It’s like you can almost put Flint into Game of Thrones or an epic of that nature, because he is hardcore. Along with Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New) and John Silver  (Luke Arnold) Flint sails the seas and docks at the port of New Providence. There he seeks fortune for he and his crew of miscreants. He is allies with Eleanor and is continuously undermined by John. Hey, you can’t have it all without some sacrifice. The sacrifices come swift, as well.

In watching the first episode of Black Sails and seeing that Neill Marshall (Game of Thrones, Doomsday, The Descent) directed the episode I knew I was in good hands. The first episode launches in the midst of a seas battle and doesn’t stop until one side is decimated. We then move on to the politics of the players and of the territory of New Providence. Whatever you may desire is here for purchase – food, drink, prostitutes, and not in that order.

All is not smooth sailing, because once things settle down after the first episode we are basically at a stalemate in terms of action as the show shifts to the political underbelly that roams through New Providence. I don’t have a problem with stillness but I do hate when shows or films meander. Black Sails meanders quite a bit in the middle part before ending on a badass high note. The show is only 8 episodes long, so the guts of the show could have been trimmed or moved along in editing. That is only a small gripe on another wise fine show.

Black Sails is exquisitely detailed and it’s good to see that no expense has been spared. It’s also weird that for something that is produced by Michael Bay it certainly doesn’t move at that particular pace. That’s a good thing and I’m quite shocked, too. Another great thing about the show is that most of it is actually shot on actual sets. The ships are real and so are most of the sets. The scope is incredible and you can almost smell the lacquered wood treatment. Be careful, though, you may get a splinter.

I was excited going into the show, then dulled in the middle somewhat, but then the show finished super strong that I am now anxiously awaiting for the start of the second season this month. It should be pretty interesting indeed. If you’re a fan of epics, pirates, and brutal action, Black Sails: The Complete First Season is the show for you.



Black Sails


Encoding: AVC/MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: Stunning. The visual palette is great and richly detailed – from the opening credits to every frame there forth.

Depth: Depth is great. There were many instances where I thought I was looking at a painting hanging at a museum. It was pretty surreal – almost like a pastel or oil painting.

Black Levels: Black and low-lit interiors/exteriors never crush or compress.

Color Reproduction: Take to the high seas and watch how crystal clear the blue ocean is. Not tom mention some our most colorful pirates’ and their outfits and such.

Flesh Tones: Some characters are flush with a bit of sunburn but no one looks sickly or unhealthy.

Noise/Artifacts: I did not detect any instances of dirt, debris, speckle, or noise. She’s a real doozy.

Black Sails


Audio Formats: English Dolby TrueHD 7.1, Spanish Dolby Surround 2.0, French Dolby Surround 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: The action scenes are pretty spectacular. You can feel every cannon blast in addition to every musket shot, punch stab, and other forms of violence as if it were happening to you. It’s a real kick in the gut.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel gives all of the violent proceedings that deep low-end punch it deserves.

Surround Sound Presentation: You will duck for cover as cannonballs and wood splinters whiz by your head. It’s a truly enveloping experience.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crisp and balanced. With all of the action going on none of the scenes of dialogue were ever compromised.


Black Sails


Black Sails: The Complete First Season comes packed with some light extras, which does not bode well for the overall rating in this department. The good news is that they’re entertaining; focus on practical effects, sets, costumes, and design. All of the extras are also presented in high definition and there’s an UltraViolet Digital Copy for your mobile viewing pleasure. It is what it is.

  • BLACK SAILS: An Inside Look (HD) – Here’s a featurette that has the cast and crew talking about the grand undertaking of bring Black Sails to life and to the small screen. Believe me, there’s nothing small about this show.
  • Dressed to Kill (HD) – This featurette focuses on the costume design of the show.
  • Pirate Camp (HD) – I, this here be filled with pirates says I. All of our primary characters had to get into tip-top shape for the show. This is the obligatory boot camp portion of the show. It’s light and fluffy.
  • Folklore Is Finished (HD) – The makers of the show talk about the legends and what Black Sails follows and deviates from. For those that want a true account of the seven seas then look elsewhere.
  • A Place In History (HD) – History shall remember pirates and the show seeks to find a place for them.
  • Building The Behemoth (HD) – Here’s my favorite of the featurettes. They actually built a couple of the ships you see onscreen and in battle. Yes folks, the ships are REAL and up to scale!

Black Sails


Black Sails starts off strong, meanders a bit in the middles, and finishes off strong. The Blu-ray has great video and audio specifications and finishes off with decent special features. With the second season of Black Sails in the horizon folks should have a great time with the first season on Blu-ray! Yarrrr!


Order Black Sails: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray!

Black Sails


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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