Movie: out of
There are over 3000 species of snakes and can be found anywhere on the planet. This is one of the many tidbits of information we learn from Animal Planet’s documentary The Beauty of Snakes. The feature covers how they mate, give birth, hunt, feed, move, and sense their surroundings.
When ready to mate, the female garter snake will emit a scented oil that attracts males from as far as 20 miles. The female and numerous males will then form a mating ball, a writhing, tangled mass of snakes that can last as long as one week until the female is impregnated. Three months later, the female will give live birth to up to 30 babies, only two will likely survive. The newborns are then left to fend for themselves, feeding on earthworms and other small insects. Most snake species, though, lay soft eggs.
We also get to see a rattlesnake hunt a mouse in the desert, close-up images of how a snake moves along the earth, how some snake species are able to swim, how an anaconda hunts underwater, and how a cobra spits venom as a defense mechanism.
For an Animal Planet documentary, I found some of the images to be overly creepy, such as a snake slithering its way along the floor while a mother and son are napping in a hammock above, and a young boy sitting on a toilet while the narrator calmly says “Humans are often unaware of their silent houseguests,” to name but a few. The sound design also raises some questions, as many of the snakes are often growling and making noises that we often only see in movies.
Video: out of
The 1080p AVC encode feels overly processed. Colors are pushed almost to the point of over-saturation, but never to the point of bleeding. Contrast is quite good, though, with deep inky blacks. I also noticed some occasional compression artifacts, but these were minor and not distracting.
Audio: out of
The 448 kbps encoded Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is front-heavy, with some occasional use of the surrounds for sound effects and music. Narration is intelligible, and the music makes good use of the LFE channel while not being overly bassy. A Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack, encoded at 192 kbps, is also included.
Special Features: out of
This Blu-ray disc contains no special features, not even trailers for other Animal Planet DVDs or Blu-ray discs.
Overall: out of
The Beauty of Snakes is, well, beautiful to look at, and chock full of interesting information. Although I thought the video felt a bit overprocessed, many will likely find this disc a good way to show off the color spectrum of their HDTV.