Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.
Connor Bynum // Film Critic
BLACK SAILS: Season Four
TV-MA, about 596 minutes.
Creator: Robert Levine, Jonathan E. Steinberg
Cast: Toby Stephens, Luke Arnold, Toby Schmitz, Hannah New, Jessica Parker Kennedy, Clara Paget and Tom Hopper
Available today on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.
An interesting case can be made for BLACK SAILS. In spite of stellar quality in both production and performances across the board, I have yet to talk to another person who also watches this show, let alone knows what it’s even about.
With such television dramas featuring copious amounts of swords, cursing, and nudity like GAME OF THRONES breaking records every year, one would think shows like BLACK SAILS would be a guaranteed hit. Sadly, after four seasons the series has come to an end. But avast ye, because what a farewell it is!
Since BLACK SAILS is primarily a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel TREASURE ISLAND, with elements from real world history thrown into the mix, it’s no surprise the show would have to wrap up sooner or later. After a fantastic opening naval assault on New Providence Island led by Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) and Long John Silver (Luke Arnold), our merry band of pirates quickly discover that Nassau will not be taken easily from Governor Woodes Rogers (Luke Roberts) and his prisoner-turned-wife Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New). Fighting alongside Silver and Flint are Captain Blackbeard (Ray Stevenson), Jack Rackham (Toby Schmitz), and Anne Bonny (Clara Paget) as they seek revenge for the execution of Charles Vane.
As with any story involving pirates, it’s safe to expect a hefty amount of betrayals. Freshly responsible for creating the legend of Long John Silver, Billy Bones (Tom Hooper) struggles to control his creation. Having never truly forgiven Flint for his attempted murder back in Season One, Billy hopes to use Silver as a means to remove Flint from the ranks of leadership. But Silver’s loyalty to Flint could end up hurting their cause.
Unlike some shows that don’t seem to know when to quit while they’re ahead, BLACK SAILS wastes no time in its final season. With hardly ever a dull moment, this is arguably the most gripping send-off fans could expect. But be warned: as with most final seasons, no character is safe from death.
This fourth and final season features more action set pieces than the previous three seasons combined, and the quality is simply stunning on Blu-ray. Audio quality will also put your speakers to the test. From sounds of bombastic cannon blasts to whispers of conspiracy, BLACK SAILS was made to be owned on Blu-ray.
The included special features are, unfortunately, lacking. While the addition of audio commentaries is certainly welcome, the behind-the-scenes featurettes simply feel like teases of the work put into creating such a fascinating world. Three “Roundtable” style interviews feel heavily trimmed and only run for a matter of minutes, leaving so much unexplored. Sadly, the extras are the only thing holding back what was almost a perfect love-letter to fans of the show.
Final Grade: B+
BLACK SAILS is the kind of show that matures over time. What started out as a mildly interesting distraction has grown into a compelling drama with engaging character arcs and an immensely satisfying conclusion. If you are one of the many who have yet to give it a look, rest assured it is worth the voyage.