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3D Blu-ray Reviews

THE HTF 3D ADDICT: Imax Grand Canyon Adventure River At Risk

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#1 of 5 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 17 2010 - 01:42 AM


What can I say?  I love 3D!  From the moment I began watching 3D content in my home I quickly discovered that I needed more content.  I suspect that those of you just purchasing your first 3D hardware will acquire the same ferocious appetite.  That's why I became the HTF 3D ADDICT.  I personally love images that pop off the screen and come inches away from your face without becoming overly gimmicky.  However, I certainly appreciate the nature documentaries that offer beautiful depth and separation.  These are not necessarily reviews of the film themselves.  I am not going to concentrate on story or supplements -- you can find the 2D reviews elsewhere on this forum.  My job is to let you know exactly what kind of 3D experience to expect from the titles that are being released.   As I will be receiving a handful of new product from the studios expect to see more title coverage.


Overall 3D Presentation Rating: 5

3D Separation: 5

3D In Yo' Face Factor: 2

A living, breathing, pop-up book!

You know, I am reminded of the early days of HD television.  Most of you will probably

relate.  There was no content in HD other than one or two channels that did nothing but

show nature videos.  So, there you were totally enthralled by gorgeous HD footage of

insects mating -- and you watched it because it was just amazing to look at in high definition.

That's sort of how I feel about these IMAX titles.  I am not the kind of person that

would regularly go out and buy these documentaries.  However, I have quickly learned 

that these IMAX releases from Warner and Image are becoming flagship demo material

for the new format.  They are expertly produced and provide some of the most awe-inspiring

footage you will find anywhere.

Narrated by Robert Redford, Grand Canyon Adventure River At Risk basically takes us

on a journey down the Colorado river through the Grand Canyon, its inner gorge and surging rapids.

Along the way we are given a brief history of the earliest settlers, the Anastasi Indians as

well as the earliest pioneers who trekked down into the canyon.

Along the way we are treated to various wildlife and reptiles that inhabit the region 

including gila monsters and rattlesnakes.

The one problem that viewers may have with the content is that is does tend to 

become overly preachy.  In fact, to different extents, this seems to be the case

with all the IMAX titles I have seen thus far.  However, in its defense, this is one

of the main reasons why you get actors like Robert Redford and environmental

advocates Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Wade Davis behind projects like this.  The

purpose of these videos are to entertain and educate.  In this case, the message

of the Colorado river being altered and depleted by water consumption and man-made

dams is a very important one.  Yes, this message is driven to the viewer moreso

than similar documentaries but I suppose I was too enthralled with the video to complain.

So, let me talk about the 3D image quality.  At the top of this review I mentioned

a pop-up book.  That is probably the best way to describe what the 3-dimensional

experience is like.  You have this unbelievable sense of depth from mountain peaks

to canyon floor.  They look almost like cut-outs strategically placed to create a 

breathtaking illusion.  Within that you have small people who look like cut-outs

themselves that can be easily picked up between your thumb and forefinger.  With

all this added depth, you are looking at the canyon in ways that you never could

before and certainly unmatched by anything filmed in 2D.

Other than the menu and title sequence that features a floating water bubble

that moves in and out of screen, there is hardly any "In Yo' Face" gimmickry to

be found.  That's fine.  It's not needed here.  I did like the effect enough, however,

to give a slightly higher category rating.  There are still ever-so-slight problems

with objects moving in from the front that shift your focus and momentarily 

interrupt the 3D experience.  I am finding this common with the material.

What I also find to be remarkable is the image quality.  I don't believe I have ever

seen high definition television look this spectacular.  The images are so amazingly

crisp and defined with gorgeous colors of the golden desert, canyons and rocky peaks

set against a saturated blue sky.  It's just breathtaking.   There are no flaws here.

The audio is very punchy.  Do turn this up loud.  There is an excellent soundtrack

that encompasses all the channels and features the music of the Dave

Matthews Band.  The sound of rushing or splashing water effectively surrounds

the viewer.  Once again, a soundtrack as immersive as the imagery.

Included is a 34 minute 2D "making of" documentary that interviews cast

and crew and gives you an idea of what it is like taking 300 lb. fully loaded

Imax cameras down into the canyon to film this kind of action.


Another spectacular IMAX entry, Grand Canyon Adventure River At Risk

is a title highly worthy of your consideration.  Fortunately, this is a reasonably

priced title for its 45 minute running time.  I found it on Amazon for $20.  

I think most people will easily overcome the preachiness in favor of the 

stunning 3D imagery this program provides.


LG 60PX950 THX Certified 3D display

LG BX580 3D Blu-ray Player

Denon 3808CI Receiver

Atlantic Technology H-PAS AT-1 fronts, 4400 center; 4200 rear speakers

SV Sound Subwoofer


Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner


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#2 of 5 OFFLINE   Phoebus


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Posted February 18 2011 - 02:22 AM

I've never found the imagery of the Grand Canyon to be particularly stimulating.  Only the favourable reviews across the internet prompted me to purchase this disc.  This disc really brings the Canyon to life in beautiful detail. A lot of the theme of the documentary is water, putting dams onto unruly rivers and their consequences.  [The only movie I can think of, offhand, with similar themes running through it was the 1930's Tennessee set Wild River(1960) with post car accident Monty Clift and Lee Remick, though that concerned itself more with the social consequences of creating new man-made lakes.] As such, I don't really mind a bit of preaching in these areas, since no-one is screaming Global Warming at me from their soap boxes.  What is presented as an argument is entirely logical and as such shouldn't put anyone off the film itself. Much of the doc is spent travelling the Colorado River as it snakes through the Canyon, assisted by helicopter shots and the occasional b/w stereo photograph of how it used to look.  Mostly the IMAX camera is white water rafting with everyone else - typical IMAX explorers in bright coloured cool anoraks stuff. The whole effect is quite glorious in 3D.  The canyon itself has never looked this beautiful, nor this enormous, to me. The 3D bluray equivalent of a large coffee table book filled with rich photography.  Perfect demo material for one's 3D kit and probably above average as a generic IMAX doc.

#3 of 5 OFFLINE   Douglas Monce

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Posted February 21 2011 - 05:49 AM

The original Grand Canyon IMAX film that used to run at the IMAX Theater at the Grand Canyon was FAR more interesting than this bit of political tripe. IMAX films use to be fun and awe-inspiring explorations of our natural world. Now they all seem to have a political agenda. It’s the main reason that I stopped going to see IMAX films. Doug
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#4 of 5 OFFLINE   Phoebus


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Posted February 21 2011 - 10:37 AM

Originally Posted by Douglas Monce 

The original Grand Canyon IMAX film that used to run at the IMAX Theater at the Grand Canyon was FAR more interesting than this bit of political tripe. IMAX films use to be fun and awe-inspiring explorations of our natural world. Now they all seem to have a political agenda. It’s the main reason that I stopped going to see IMAX films.


Well, for me the 3D 70mm of the IMAX suits my collection, particularly as I'm into 3D projection of a larger image.  My delight for the IMAX movie is weighted against my confused dislike of Disneys Cinemascope Grand Canyon short that once played with Sleeping Beauty - true-life adventures aspiring to high art.  My God, the Grand Canyon is beautiful, and massive, and its ecosystem managed by a Native American tribe for many hundreds of years.  Politics aside, this is pure Cinerama stuff that the 1950's delighted in.  Also, we haven't had the Warner blu IMAX releases this side of the Atlantc yet, so Grand Canyon is best of the first batch.

What stopped me going to IMAX shorts was the loss of the flicker specs helmets, which were very nice tech.  Still, the polarisation specs they have now seem to do the job for the features I see - seems to be old fashioned polarisation with IMAX - last time I was rotating my head in IMAX I convinced myself it wasn't circular polarisation.

Also, the IMAX shorts are "edu-tainment", a ghastly concept at the best of times.  There were also the ride movies such as Haunted Castle, but... lets say graphical expectations in CGI have moved on.  I'm perfectly happy to rent whatever 3d blu IMAXs are out there - and cherry-pick the best for retail.  They're just a genre, after all, and not altogether that bad - I have more issues with not-very-true-to-life-expecially-when-in-motion HD video than gorgeous 70mm IMAX film.  They're slow-fuck alpha-wave MOR music addictive movie-candy with facts - fun but unfulfilling sensory nougats... and I'm happy to sample more of them to sate my 3d blu addiction until some decent 1950's fare comes along..

#5 of 5 OFFLINE   Phoebus


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Posted March 10 2011 - 08:51 AM

I finally got myself a home amp, having spent a decade with a coax in and 5.1 dolby digital pc speakers. Means my first introduction to dts, and more importantly to HD sound which is unexpectedly impressive in its range and sound quality. Well, this means I'm reassessing a lot of my bluray collection, which I assumed I knew already, but only just recognsing that the majority have wondrous DTS-HD master tracks. Just listening to Grand Canyon from the Sleeping Beauty disc and finding the DTS a real treat to listen to.  Apologies to Disney for disrespecting it out of hand for the wrong reasons.  Very pleasant mix. Really blown away by the quality of majority of these HD tracks - a completely new world opening for me.

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