IMAX: To The Arctic 3D Blu-Ray
It's no secret that the American box office loves CGI action vehicles. Making what is unreal seem real is alluring, amazing and it fascinates us. Sitting down to watch a film about nature, however, can be boggle our mind because what we are seeing isn't an attempt to seem real, it is a true representation of the world we live in.
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 40 Minutes
Package Includes: 3D Blu-ray, DVD
Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)
Release Date: 03/26/2013
The Production Rating: 4.5/5
As a young child, I grew up with Saturday afternoon showings of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. Despite living in a rural area where first hand experiences with wild animals wasn't uncommon, I found myself fascinated by the animal life in the rest of the world - what really was out there? For the most part, we watched those programs because just getting a chance to see the animals as they existed in the rest of the world was exciting, no matter what they were.
As technology and ability have changed, theaters and documentaries have had a chance to not only show us other animals in the world, but also to build a narrative. When those narratives really hit home with an audience, they are touching stories that bring the life of the world straight into our livingroom. Even when they miss, the view of the world from another angle still gives us a chance to relate to the world we don't often get to see.
Into The Arctic provides a look at many of the animals within the arctic habitat and how they sustain their lives. There are going to be people who have real issues with the structure of this documentary, who will find the storytelling element of it to be weak - but for those who just want a window into a world we don't get to see often, To the Arctic presents a natural habitat in a beautiful unvarnished way that isn't dedicated to building a complex storyline with animals, but more interested in getting you to look at the screen and appreciate the raw beauty that the world has in store for us.
With a soundtrack and songs - both new and Beatles traditional - provided by Paul McCartney this film provided a chance for my kids and I to sit and point at the animal life presented.
This is not a documentary in the spirit of so many that provide a through line of action and inbuilt drama for the animals, it is far more in the spirit of a Wild Kingdom, just a peak inside the world we don't get to see. Whether or not the beauty of nature and simple narrative allows you to embrace the beauty you see on screen is up to you.
My one complaint is that I feel this film would have been better if I could just turn off the human narrative and just watch the animals interact with the simple music inserts and the sounds of the world.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: 4.5/5
I've spent the last few weeks getting used to some new equipment as I construct my new home theater, and I was ready to review some real 3D using my JVC-RS56U projector. What I really discovered with To the Artic, both in 2D and 3D is that the origination device for me made a huge amount of difference in how I looked at this disc.
The first time I played through this disc, I found the presentation to be OK, but not quite where I wanted it to be.. the pictures were pretty, but I it seemed as though spotting and errors within the encode occurred. Unsure whether or not this was my projector or (cheap) 3D Blu-Ray player I was using, I held off on a review based on the picture quality because I wanted to make sure I was looking at this in the highest quality possible.
Finally, after a few tweaks, using both a Media Center with TMT6 and an Oppo 103 Player, the image on this disc finally really came alive. I've never been a huge believer that hardware makes a gigantic difference in the output quality of a disc - a digital encode is a digital encode, but in this case, the switch from using a simple Samsung BD player to the Oppo completely changed the look and quality of this disc.
I am unsure of whether or not I should say a piece of hardware is "fixing" a disc, or if another piece of hardware isn't decoding properly - that's hard to say; but in light of this, I moved my video rating up from what would have been a 3 to a 4.
But it is the 3D effect that I found most stunning on this disc. 3D effects within many action films are direct and forward - items project out of the screen at you, which can be rewarding here and there but also can tire this viewer out. 3D as delivered within To The Arctic is beautiful, often passive and providing depth, shading and a real ambiance to the presentation that helps make the film a treasure to watch.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
Presented in DTS-MA 5.1 audio, Into the Artic provides an active and fun soundtrack filled with a music score that fills a room. Animal life moves all around you, filling your rear channels; the roars of a polar bear will shake your LFE, and the steps of animal life can move around you.
This is an effective and interesting score that brings you into the world that you are presented. The soundtrack as provided by McCartney makes this a unique treat for those who are McCartney fans alone. The use of the Beatles "Because" at the beginning sets the tone for the kind of soundtrack that will be presented for the rest of the film.
I found the soundtrack to be a joy to listen to.
Special Features Rating: 2/5
Extra features on this disc can be summed up into a 17 minute, HD block of short featurettes. These features are no more than about 3 minutes. They are: "Pristine," "Life Under Water," "The Challenges of Filming in the Arctic," "To the Arctic with Meryl Streep," "A Polar Bear Family" and "Welcome to the Arctic."
Also included is a trailer for the film itself.
There is nothing here to really write home about in the features, but my gut feeling is that many will watch this disc primarily for the pictures and visions of animal life.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
I feel as though there are a few things that need cleared up about this disc as it is presented online. Many online forums present this as provided on a BD-50 disc. It is not, this is a single layer BD. Several forums and comments try desperately to compare this to more active documentaries, like "March of the Penguins". If that is the kind of experience you are after, then you will find a film like To the Arctic to be a bit on the bland side.
But to me, To the Arctic is a beautiful, easy watch of a film that reminds me of all of the animal life documentaries I loved as a child, and it's quick run time allows you to feel as though a child can watch through it with you and enjoy the beauty of what's being presented.
There are very few things available in any format as majestic as seeing the world in a different way, and To the Arctic provides that in spades. My gut tells me many people will just work to pull stills out of this film to use as wallpaper, backgrounds and images to keep track of. The settings, scenery and animals presented are beautiful, majestic and the presentation for the most part gets completely out of the way and just lets you look through the glass and see the world.
Reviewed By: MattCR
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