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Showing 1-10 of 1,357 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,458 reviews
on August 21, 2017
A doomed pirate ship holds a key to great wealth. When a critical page of the captain's log is torn from the book in the chaos of battle by an unscrupulous cook, it becomes a hot item. The cook is murdered for the prize by an unassuming man named John Silver who convinces the boarding party that it is he who is ship's cook and finagles his way into the crew. His new mates are led by Captain Flint, a man who promises his men an equal cut of their plunders. However, small scores and relative failure have turned many away from him and closer to his rival, the devious Singleton who has the votes to oust the skipper. Flint's right-hand man, Quartermaster Gates, works to re-secure the captain's stature with his men and peg Singleton as the traitor who stole the page from the log book. He does so with the support of a key crew member, Billy Bones. The crew lands at Nassau where they must deal with Eleanor Guthrie who has followed in her father's footsteps as Nassau's go-to businessperson intermediary. Meanwhile, Silver, who still holds the page, strikes up an unorthodox and unwanted alliance with a local prostitute named Max who knows his secret. At the same time, a rival captain named Charles Vane hopes to secure the log book page for his own needs, chiefly to discover the whereabouts of the legendary treasure ship Urca de Lima.

Black Sails opens by setting its bar so high that it never quite manages to again top it. A stellar ship-versus-ship attack serves to not only introduce some key characters and story dynamics but to also demonstrate the show's technical marvels in one of the most explosive, immersive, and detailed high seas battles ever to grace the screen, small or large. It's an epic open that will certainly draw its viewers closer but threatens to alienate them at the same time when it becomes apparent that the show is, mostly, landlocked rather than sprawling out on the high seas. That said, the show is a carefully constructed character study that, while detailed, still feels a bit empty and hollow. It embraces the same sort of conniving and complicated plot matters that are the hallmark of all of these historically inspired modern drama television epics, going full-bore for the seedy underside of an already dangerous world. The characters are mostly type with a few surprises thrown in here and there. Most viewers with a general knowledge of the pirate genre (and a reading of Treasure Island under their belts; the show is a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's literary classic) and the way modern television works won't find very much new here beyond the impressive outward dressing.

As alluded to above, what's really missing is a sense of adventure. Black Sails isn't so much about pilfering and plundering or exploring strange new worlds along the high seas but instead about the politics, the backstabbing, the manipulation, the real grit and dirt that takes place on land rather than on the sea. In that sense, it's less a pure adventure show and more a stationary drama, a strange choice for a program built around a concept that, in popular culture, generally involves more seafaring adventure and less land-loving wheeling and dealing. It's more interested in being a deeper, more complex character drama and less about floating along the ocean and both seeking out treasure and encountering unwanted dangers. Much of that, likely, stems from cost; were every episode crammed with big, wide open adventure to new places and big vessel-on-vessel action to match, the program would likely buckle under the weight of its pricey demands. Setting it primarily on land and centering it fully on characters rather than mixing in sweeping adventure allows the show to stretch further while standing relatively still.
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on July 31, 2016
Awesome story line. Well cast; top performances from ALL the actors. Beautifully told story with all the grit, authenticity and cinematic splendor of a High Quality Film Production. Every episode just leaves you wanting MORE. You can almost feel the heat & smell the stench of that time period. The acting is SO authentic, one can only expect Oscars being handed out by the dozens. This whole Series is in the league of Game of Thrones. Wonderful in how it ties history into it by weaving the characters' and their lives into that time period.
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on January 25, 2016
I am obessesd with this series! it has been on my to-watch list since the first episode was released online early for free. I don't pay for Showtime/Starz/HBO..etc so I had to wait until it was available online and until I knew it was renewed for another season (as is my personal policy). Low and behold its been renewed for a third season! This is a fantastic period drama based loosely on real pirates such as Anne Bonney and Charles Vane and is a pre-treasure island story arch. It is very bloody, nitty, and gritty - it has a lot of full frontal/backside nudity for both male and females and some explicit sexual scenes, this is not a show for children or the fainthearted. It has a great main plot line that arches over two season and my guess possibly longer, along with smaller plot lines with resolutions and twists to keep you entertained and wanting more. This show enlightens the viewer to the harsh and unforgiving life of Pirates and the political and personal struggle for the island of Nassau.
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on March 3, 2017
Toby Stephens role alone would dictate a 5-star review. However the script deprives Mr. Stephens stellar performance and gives all too much emphasis on lesser aspects of the show. Mr. Luke Arnold's role as young John Silver has also develops with excellence. Lots of very favorable twists and turns in the plot. However the script/production has dealt the show's Female leads with altogether too much repetition. Black Sails would benefit greatly with just a tad more quality of work in the editing room.
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on May 20, 2017
Season 1 of Black Sails is good but a little slow for my tastes. This prequel to Treasure Island drags alot, so much so that it feels like it's doing it because Starz didn't have the budget to make the show have spectacle. Instead, you get the somewhat interesting daily life of pirates, filled with debates about a lost treasure and science about the act of sailing. Some of these parts are interesting because the series is capturing a realism to pirate life that is rarely showcased on film/tv. The characters are also a saving grace, as this show captures really unique dynamics between characters that are every shade of grey imaginable. The acting is spectacular as is the cinematography and the visual effects.

So, while the season can be a bit of a slog it is incredibly worth watching because the plot lines that form in Season 1 lead into Season 2 - a season that truly establishes the show as one of the best to come out in the last decade. Despite its flaws, the payoff that is the show's future makes it must watch!
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on March 31, 2016
I enjoyed this show for the most part. Most of the acting was fairly decent, dialog and plot were good and the setting is fun and interesting. My only real issue with the show itself was that season 1 felt a bit too much like a soap opera most of the time. I have since watched season 2 and felt that it picked up a bit better and got rid of that feeling and have decided to watch for season 3 when it becomes available as well.

My reason for only a 3 star instead of a 4 star which I feel this show deserved however was for the packaging. It has to be about the worst package I've ever seen! The little foldout is completely cardboard, which is no big deal, most season sets usually are but they always contain the plastic layer for the disc to sit in. Not this one. This series has a very inconvenient pouch where the discs slide in at stupid angles, scratching the discs to pieces as you try and remove them or put them back. This should have been better thought out and done completely differently. I'm mad to have to pay nearly $30 for a set of DVDs only to have them damaged from the cases, on top of the usually already damaged discs included in DVD cases as it is.
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on July 27, 2014
I am very much enjoying these episodes. There aren't many films or shows about pirates, so I'm really super glad that Black Sails was created. I love the characters and the pirate-y world. The acting is great, there's a high production value, the sets are gorgeous, and the costumes are fun, although at times a little off (you've heard about the sunglasses I'm sure). It's a fun show! There are some quotes and actions that have me laughing out loud with glee, and moments of dark suspense that keep me on the edge of my seat.

But I do have a couple of problems which detract from the enjoyment:

1. The lavish use of the F-word. I have no qualms with curses when used effectively, but it is used excessively to the point of it being ridiculous - especially from Eleanor Guthrie, who uses the word like a child who has heard adults using it, and is repeating it without understanding or conviction. It doesn't make her look tough - it makes her look stupid, weak, and unbelievable. But it is also used excessively by most of the characters. It's not even that the F-word wasn't used that way in the 1700's (from all accounts), but that it is just used so many times that it takes me out of the moment and "dumbs down" the dialogue. I am hoping that they give it a break in season 2.

2. The gratuitous sex and nudity, which is annoying but has become so present in modern entertainment that I just have to sort of glaze over those scenes. When will the industry realize that sex scenes are not really sexy? Leaving things to the imagination would be much better.

That being said, I really like the show and hope to see many future seasons.

Edit: And may I send kudos to whoever is responsible for the inclusion of Marcus Aurelius!!
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on November 9, 2016
I'm a long-time sailor and have a deep love for sailing ships. By far, this series has the best sailing featuring 18th century ships plowing the blue and turquoise waters of the Bahamas (actually filmed in South Africa). Great characters, many drawn from Pirate history, with a perfect and eclectic cast. Especially notable are the strong roles given to women. Lots of good laughs and plot twists. The production values are fabulous, especially the ships and the decrepit buildings and environment of 18th century Nassau.
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on December 18, 2015
Everything about this show is amazing. Instantly fully realized & distinctive characters. None of this wishy-washy crap where you wonder where this character or that one did this or that or if they are a main character or if you've ever even seen them before. Even the extras are distinctive!

The production value, writing, character development, & good god everything about this is cranked up to 11. The fact that this was a television series blows me away. Reminds me of Battlestar Galactica - not a complement I've given nor am likely to give to ANY other show.

Now I can't say all of that without SOMETHING to gripe about. Even though each episode is almost a solid hour, there are only a few episodes in season 1. Such is the way of almost all new shows, so I don't fault them. Also, like I said the production value is off the charts, so keeping costs under control was probably a concern. Thankfully there are more episodes in season 2. Trust me, just go ahead & buy it ;-)

Anyway, if you're interested in am unflinching look at early 18th century pirates, or just a great action story with lost of surprises - THIS is the place to be.
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on December 8, 2016
This is the pinnacle of story telling, one of the best Starz programs ever. Other honorable mentions are "magic city". But back to "black sails".... this show has everything.

Excellent writing, characters that act the same way thruout the series. Oh sure, alliances change, deals get made, but the character who thinks one way, will always think that way. This show is so superior to "the walking dead", it makes my soul weep to think "Black Sails" only gets four seasons and TWD get 7 so far....

The scenery is beautiful, the writing is top notch, the writers can't get enough credit. The psychology of all the characters is a beautiful thing to see and it translates superbly to film from the script.

You can't buy this show soon enough.
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