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The Maersk Alabama became the first US cargo ship to be hijacked in 200 years when heavily armed Somalis boarded the vessel on the 8th of April 2009. As commander of the ship, Captain Richard Phillips inevitably found himself at the heart of events. Held hostage by the pirates under the command of Muse, Phillips attempts to protect both his crew and ship to the best of his ability. However, as the drama plays out and Phillips spends more time in the company of his Somali captors, he gradually comes to realise that they have a story, too. Far from the greedy, heartless thugs of pirate lore, the Somalis may well represent the forces of globalisation. Based on the real life hijacking of a US cargo ship by Somali pirates.
For more about Captain Phillips and the Captain Phillips Blu-ray release, see Captain Phillips Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 10, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Mahat M. Ali, Catherine Keener
Director: Paul Greengrass
» See full cast & crew
Captain Phillips Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 10, 2014
Only a special sort of movie can create an environment that exudes authenticity, that places its audience in palpable peril alongside the characters, that recreates a harrowing episode of real-life nerves, brinkmanship, and a peculiar understanding between adversaries. Few movies are so adept at constructing characters made of unmatched fullness, complete emotional centers, and subjected to heart-racing terror. Precious few pictures manage to paint a picture so terrifyingly enthralling, and evenly so, that the audience is pulled completely into the world and absorbed in every bead of sweat and each uneasy, thrusting heartbeat in the chest. It's the rare film that can take a highly publicized real-life event, with the outcome known well ahead of time, and engender such uneasiness in the open and raw fear and uncontrollable emotional turmoil during and even after the fact. Director Paul Greengrass' (The Bourne Supremacy, United 93) Captain Phillips is a truly special movie that finds an uncanny balance in narrative progression, action, drama, heartbreaking emotion, and heart-stopping terror. With faultless craftsmanship, pitch-perfect performances, and a story so incredible it could only be based on real life, Captain Phillips ranks as one of the finest films of 2013 and cements Paul Greengrass as one of the masters of the filmmaking craft.
Vermont resident Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) is accompanied by his wife Andrea (Catherine Keener) on his way to the airport to board a plane bound for the Middle East with a final destination of Oman's Port of Salalah. There, he will board and captain the Maersk Alabama, a U.S.-flagged cargo ship set to sail through pirate-infested waters. Phillips orders his crew and first officer Shane Murphy (Michael Chernus) to tighten up ship's procedures, lock all doors, and enhance security measures. An e-mail warning of increased piracy persuades Phillips to conduct an unannounced anti-piracy drill that suddenly becomes a very real reaction to two unidentified skiffs appearing on ship's radar. A course correction is matched by the unknowns. The crew is mustered to stations. A call to the U.S. Maritime Emergency Line goes unanswered; a follow-up to the U.K. equivalent is met with basic advice. Phillips pushes the Alabama to her limits and escapes the pirates. The following day, however, a single skiff carrying four men manages to catch the Alabama. She's boarded. Her crew goes into hiding while the captain and the bridge crew are held at gunpoint by three men and their captain, Muse (Barkhad Abdi), who insists on locating the crew and ransoming their lives for a hefty sum in the millions of dollars.
If Captain Phillips can crete such an intense, terrifying world and elicit so many raw, unchecked emotions, one can only hope to understand the sort of multiplied terrors and fears that gripped the Alabama crew, her captain, and even near the end, the pirates. Director Paul Greengrass opens that authentic world like few films before his. Like Greengrass' United 93, Captain Phillips recreates a widely-known event and crafts a disturbing, all-too-real look at everyday people and the extraordinary situations in which they find themselves, situations into which they are unwittingly thrust while closely examining the progressions and consequences of their actions under terrible duress. Also like United 93, Captain Phillips moves well beyond the physical actions and storyline dramas to more deeply explore the significantly more complex human emotions in play and in constant flux throughout the story, from inside both the heroes and the villains alike as actions and reactionary forces play out through their words, their maneuvers, and the unseen but clearly felt turmoil that tears at them from the inside. Few films, and fewer filmmakers, are so accomplished at exploring the complexities of man under force of peril and uncertainty as Paul Greengrass, and Captain Phillips is a jewel representative of the culmination of deep understanding and flawless execution of the cinema medium as both entertainment and vehicle for unfettered emotion.
Greengrass' precision filmmaking wouldn't be worth much without fine complementary performances, and his cast brings a lifelike, almost disturbingly authentic presence to the film. Tom Hanks again dominates the picture, falling into part with almost unparalleled believability. He portrays an everyday sort of man who's confident in his ability as ship's captain and sure of his authority, but also a man who fears on the inside and gradually falls perilously close to the brink of collapse on the outside the closer he comes to meeting the business end of an AK-47. Hanks portrays a man quick on his feet yet nearly immobile with terror on the inside, a duality that's challenged the further he's pushed into his journey with every new turn, each drop of blood spilled, every intimate moment with his captors. He plays the character from the inside out incredibly well and sells every moment, culminating in a heart-wrenching final scene in which he lets loose the sort of unprepared and unrestrained emotions that only a close relationship with tragedy can truly engender in a man. The two-time Oscar winner is matched scene-for-scene by newcomer Barkhad Abdi who delivers a frighteningly authentic performance as the film's primary antagonist, a man who is every bit Phillips' match and travels a similar arc. Abdi brings to the part a natural screen presence and understanding of the performance craft that's evident with every glance and movement but also a deeper soul that's all too often missing from film antagonists. The film is nearly as much his story and the ballet of blood, sweat, uncertainty and fear between the captains as it is Phillips' story alone.
Captain Phillips Blu-ray, Video Quality
Captain Phillips looks terrific on Blu-ray. Sony's latest "mastered in 4K" presentation excels throughout, delivering sparkling colors and refined details throughout. The color palette springs to life in every daytime exterior. Ocean shots are particularly gorgeous, displaying crystal-clear waters with lifelike accuracy. Additionally, the colors seen around the ship's hull and its cargo containers look terrific, as does the orange lifeboat that's prominently seen in the film's second half. Fine detailing and big, basic textures alike look terrific, too. Facial features reveal every bruise, bead of sweat, natural line, and hair there is to see. Worn edges around the ship, weathering, imperfections in paint, beaten and well-used firearms, and all variety of nuanced background elements look marvelous, too. Image clarity is generally outstanding. The image does appear to struggle a bit in its darkest scenes. Blacks can push ever-so-slightly towards an unnaturally bright shade, and darker scenes, particularly down in the Alabama's powered-down and low-light engine room, display large amounts of buzzing grain. Otherwise, this is an immaculate, film-quality presentation.
Captain Phillips Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Captain Phillips' soundtrack dazzles. Sony's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack springs to life with both incredible power and environmental nuance alike. The film's earlier scenes enjoy the calm sound of passing traffic en route to the airport. Convincingly light ambience supports Phillips' arrival in the Middle East. Out on the water, the little detailed effects of waves, wind, and small background elements on the bridge place the listening audience in the ship's central location. The pirate attacks enjoy tremendous sonic intensity, built around heavy splashing water, hard-pushing engines, and big, powerful music. The water saturates the stage and the music pushes through with natural power and precision, both filling the listening area and helping define what are amongst the film's most heart-pounding sequences. Gunfire erupts with striking accuracy, presenting a strong crack into the listening area and following up, occasionally, with the sound of 7.62x39 rounds slamming into the Alabama's hull. Radio chatter and loudspeaker announcements come through authentically, with a bit of static and reverberation, respectively. The Navy's big horn belches out a deep, room-shaking announcement, followed by a whirring alarm in chapter 11. Dialogue plays consistently and evenly from the center. This is a wonderful, reference-quality presentation that fans of the film and audiophiles like will adore.
Captain Phillips Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Captain Phillips contains a commentary track and a three-part documentary.
Captain Phillips Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The contrasting worlds, the building pressure, the excitement, the uncertainty, and the culminating catharsis of it all in one of the most powerful and precisely acted end scenes in cinema history all give rise to what is a perfect movie. Captain Phillips is a masterpiece of the medium, a picture that commands the screen, captivates its audience, and tells a tightly woven tale of real life danger, heroism, and terror. It's expertly directed and incredibly acted. The film should attract at least a handful of high profile Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Editing, and win several. Sony's Blu-ray release of Captain Phillips features excellent "Mastered in 4K" video, faultless audio, and a small but satisfying assortment of extra content. Captain Phillips earns my highest recommendation.
Captain Phillips: Other Editions
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Captain Phillips Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, Jan. 20-26: Captain Phillips Escapes to the Top Spot - January 31, 2014
For the week that ended on January 26th, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Captain Phillips rose to the top of the Blu-ray-only and overall media rankings. This acclaimed docudrama scored with critics and audiences last fall, and now it has been nominated for ...
• This Week on Blu-ray: January 21-28 - January 19, 2014
For the week of January 21st, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment streets Captain Phillips on Blu-ray. Other titles include Blue Jasmine, Warner's The Postman Always Rings Twice, MGM's new RoboCop Blu-ray, Magnolia's Bad Milo release, and Criterion's loaded It's a ...
• Captain Phillips Blu-ray - December 4, 2013
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release on Blu-ray director Paul Greengrass's action thriller Captain Phillips (2013), starring Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Catherine Keener, and Michael Chernus. The release will be available for purchase ...
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