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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF Blu-ray Review: Blu Sea Trilogy (IMAX)



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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   Todd Erwin

Todd Erwin

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  • Real Name:Todd Erwin
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Posted May 05 2009 - 12:16 PM

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Blu Sea Trilogy


US Release Date: May 5, 2009

Note: This set contains 3 Blu-ray discs previously available individually from Image Entertainment.


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Dolphins


Studio: Image Entertainment
Year: 2000
Rated: Not Rated
Film Length: 40 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish, French)
Subtitles: None


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Nominated for Best Documentary Short Subject for 2000, Greg MacGillivray’s Dolphins is an informative and highly entertaining film, originally produced for IMAX exhibition. Narrated by Pierce Brosnan and featuring music by Sting, the film packs a lot of information in its 40 minute running time, but never feels rushed, nor does it speak down to its audience. We learn that there are over 40 species of dolphins, living all over the world, some even in fresh water, and that the bottle-nose is the most intelligent, possibly even more intelligent than most humans. The touching relationship between naturalist Dean Bernal and JoJo, a wild bottle-nose dolphin in the West Indies, is explored. The two developed a strong bond of trust over the years, with Dean saving and nursing JoJo back to health after getting his tail caught in a boat’s propeller blade, and then JoJo saving Dean from a hammerhead shark’s attack. Much time is also spent following Kathleen Dudzinski’s study of how dolphins communicate with one another and how a pod interacts during feeding.

Video: out of Dolphins has been cropped top and bottom from its original 70mm IMAX aspect ratio of 1.44:1 to accommodate the high definition 1.78:1 frame in this 1080p AVC encode. Colors are vibrant and crisp, the gorgeous blues and greens of the oceans are simply breathtaking. There were some occasional specks of dirt and mosquito noise, but nothing too distracting.


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The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is also vibrant, but not as active as most IMAX films. Dialogue is clean and intelligible, and is for the most part contained to the center channel. Music and effects are spread across the remaining channels, giving a pleasant, enveloping auditory experience, and discrete effects are used sparingly.

Special Features:
Dolphins contains a decent amount of extras.

The Making of Dolphins is a rather in-depth, 37 minute look at how this IMAX film was made. When this film was made back in 2000, the longest possible slow-motion shot was only 90 seconds, due to the large format film. The filmmakers also found that the dolphins were intimidated at first by the large, noisy, bulky IMAX cameras. Presented in standard definition.

Marine Science is an 11 minute featurette, aimed at children, that explores marine biology through interviews with Alejandro Acevedo-Guiterrez and Kathleen Dudzinski, two of the biologists featured in Dolphins. Presented in standard definition.

Film Trivia Quiz is a collection of ten multiple choice questions from the film. This quiz is not very difficult, aimed at schoolchildren. I did notice that the author misspelled the word “oops” as “opps” when you select a wrong answer.

The History of MacGillivray Freeman Films is an eight minute documentary on this small, independent studio located in Laguna Beach, California. The company started out making surfing films, but found its calling in large-format nature documentaries.

About Greg MacGillivray is a text-based biography and filmography of the director and co-founder of MacGillivray Freeman Films.

Trailers is a collection of, well, trailers, of 11 films by MacGillivray Freeman Films. Included are Coral Reef Adventure, Journey Into Amazing Caves, The Magic of Flight, The Living Sea, Mystery of the Nile, Greece: Secrets of the Past, Hurricane on the Bayou, The Alps, Dolphins, Super Speedway, and Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag. All are in high definition video and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and can be viewed individually or via a “Play All” option.

Dynamic Connection is Image Entertainment’s BD-Live portal, which also includes access to the tuneHD.net portal. Much of the material available is duplicated on the disc, and seven months after this disc’s initial release, much of the content is still Coming Soon. This is one of the more frustrating aspects of BD-Live.





The Living Sea


Studio: Image Entertainment
Year: 1995
Rated: Not Rated
Film Length: 40 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish, French)
Subtitles: None


Movie: http://static.hometh...milies_star.gif"> out of The Living Sea takes a 40 minute look at the world ocean, under the belief that all of the seas and oceans are interconnected. The main focus of this documentary is not necessarily the sea life, but how the ecosystem of the sea can affect the entire planet. The first quarter of the film deals with how the seas work, how the moon dictates high and low tides (in stunning time-lapse photography of the Bay of Fundy in Canada), how the winds affect the waves (with footage of a Coast Guard training exercise at Cape Disappointment, as well as some good surfing sequences). The next quarter is spent finally going underwater with the assistance of an ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle, but not as fancy as the ROV’s seen in James Cameron’s “The Abyss”) and finding a 50-yard long siphonophore more than 1500 feet below the surface. The last half of the film is spent on the island chain of Palau, a mostly untouched preserve of marine life. The highlights from this section include watching a scuttle fish swim and change colors, the multi-colored coral reefs, and a self-contained salt water lake teeming with jellyfish and other wildlife.

Meryl Streep’s narration is not as engaging as one would expect, often sounding like a mother telling her elementary school child the story, and is only featured in less than half of the movie’s running time. The bulk of the narration is by the biologists, natives, and other individuals featured in the film. Like Dolphins, The Living Sea features a music score by Steve Wood with songs by Sting. Unfortunately, this score is rather repetitive, using arrangements of “Fragile” and “Why Should I Cry For You” as the major themes. I found The Living Sea to be too general, and not as entertaining as the other films in this set.

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The Living Sea has been cropped top and bottom from its original 70mm IMAX aspect ratio of 1.44:1 to accommodate the high definition 1.78:1 frame in this 1080p AVC encode. Colors are vibrant, but there is an overall softness to the image. The print used for this transfer also exhibits a fair amount of dirt and blemishes, but are rarely distracting. There is also some occasional mosquito noise, but again not too distracting.

Audio:
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is also vibrant, but not as active as most IMAX films. Dialogue is for the most part contained to the center channel, but the interviews were not always recorded under the best conditions, and range in quality. Some of the surfer interviews are particularly troublesome, especially at the 12:40 mark, where the surfer sounds like he was recorded in a large bathroom, as there is a very distracting echo effect in the dialogue. Music and effects are spread across the remaining channels, giving a pleasant, enveloping auditory experience, and discrete effects are used sparingly.

Special Features:
With the exception of a documentary and trivia quiz, The Living Sea shares many of the same special features as Dolphins and Coral Reef Adventure.

The Making of The Living Sea is a 37 minute featurette, with the film makers reminiscing on making this short film. Although the cover indicates this featurette was “shot using high-definition cameras,” it is presented in standard definition. Encoded on this Blu-ray disc at a relatively high bit rate, the original master must have been encoded at a very low bit rate, as the video is full of compression artifacts.

Film Trivia Quiz is a collection of ten multiple choice questions from the film. This quiz is not very difficult, aimed at schoolchildren. I did notice that the author misspelled the word “oops” as “opps” when you select a wrong answer.

The History of MacGillivray Freeman Films is an eight minute documentary on this small, independent studio located in Laguna Beach, California. The company started out making surfing films, but found its calling in large-format nature documentaries.

About Greg MacGillivray is a text-based biography and filmography of the director and co-founder of MacGillivray Freeman Films.

Trailers is a collection of, well, trailers, of 11 films by MacGillivray Freeman Films. Included are Coral Reef Adventure, Journey Into Amazing Caves, The Magic of Flight, The Living Sea, Mystery of the Nile, Greece: Secrets of the Past, Hurricane on the Bayou, The Alps, Dolphins, Super Speedway, and Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag. All are in high definition video and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and can be viewed individually or via a “Play All” option.

Dynamic Connection is Image Entertainment’s BD-Live portal, which also includes access to the tuneHD.net portal. Much of the material available here is duplicated on the disc, and seven months after this disc’s initial release, much of the content is still Coming Soon. This is one of the more frustrating aspects of BD-Live.





Coral Reef Adventure


Studio: Image Entertainment
Year: 2003
Rated: Not Rated
Film Length: 40 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French)
Subtitles: None


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Underwater cinematographers Howard and Michele Hall explore the coral reefs of the South Pacific and investigate the cause of their decline in Greg MacGillivray’s Coral Reef Adventure, originally produced for IMAX theatres in 2003. Narrated by Liam Neeson and featuring music by Crosby, Stills, and Nash, the film documents the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, as well as reefs in Fiji and Tahiti, and the wildlife that inhabits them. The reef in Fiji has been particularly devastated die to three conditions all occurring at the same time: global warming, over-fishing, and pollution (from silt caused by deforestation). What makes the film enjoyable is the photography and the wildlife, such as the symbiotic relationship between gobi fish and bulldozer shrimp (the gobi acts as bodyguard while the shrimp cleans the home), seeing how an octopus feeds on shrimp and crab that hide in the reef, and the many different types and colors of coral.

Video: out of This was one of the first DVDs I watched after purchasing my HDTV. While the standard definition DVD looked very good, this Blu-ray version is a major improvement, especially over the ill-fated High Definition Windows Media DVD-Rom that was included in that DVD set. Coral Reef Adventure has been cropped top and bottom from its original 70mm IMAX aspect ratio of 1.44:1 to accommodate the high definition 1.78:1 frame in this 1080p AVC encode. Colors are vibrant and crisp, the gorgeous blues, greens, and reds of coral are simply breathtaking. The print used was virtually free of specks of dirt and mosquito noise.

Audio: http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif">
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is vibrant, but not as active as most IMAX films. Dialogue is clean and intelligible, and is for the most part contained to the center channel. Music and effects are spread across the remaining channels, giving a pleasant, enveloping auditory experience, and discrete effects are used sparingly.

Special Features:
With the exception of a documentary and trivia quiz, Coral Reef Adventure shares many of the same special features as Dolphins and The Living Sea.

Behind the Scenes of Coral Reef Adventure is a 34 minute featurette, with the film makers reminiscing on making this short film, presented in standard definition. Encoded on this Blu-ray disc at a relatively high bit rate, the original master must have been encoded at a very low bit rate, as the video is full of compression artifacts.

Film Trivia Quiz is a collection of ten multiple choice questions from the film. This quiz is not very difficult, aimed at schoolchildren. I did notice that the author misspelled the word “oops” as “opps” when you select a wrong answer.

The History of MacGillivray Freeman Films is an eight minute documentary on this small, independent studio located in Laguna Beach, California. The company started out making surfing films, but found its calling in large-format nature documentaries.

About Greg MacGillivray is a text-based biography and filmography of the director and co-founder of MacGillivray Freeman Films.

Trailers is a collection of, well, trailers, of 11 films by MacGillivray Freeman Films. Included are Coral Reef Adventure, Journey Into Amazing Caves, The Magic of Flight, The Living Sea, Mystery of the Nile, Greece: Secrets of the Past, Hurricane on the Bayou, The Alps, Dolphins, Super Speedway, and Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag. All are in high definition video and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and can be viewed individually or via a “Play All” option.

Dynamic Connection is Image Entertainment’s BD-Live portal, which also includes access to the tuneHD.net portal. Much of the material available here is duplicated on the disc, and seven months after this disc’s initial release, much of the content is still Coming Soon. This is one of the more frustrating aspects of BD-Live.



Overall: out of Although The Living Sea may be the weak link in this set, these are all worthy films that will look and sound very good in your home theatre, and the kids will especially enjoy Dolphins. If you already own one or more of the films included in this set on Blu-ray, there is no need to purchase this set, as these discs are identical to the individual, previously released discs. Otherwise, this set is a bargain compared to purchasing them individually.