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.
Polar Bears: Ice Bear
Product Release: November 12, 2013
Audio: DTS 5.1
Running Time: 50 minutes
On A Scale 0-5
Overall 3D Presentation Rating: 4
3D Separation: 5
3D In Yo' Face Factor: 3.5
After writing so many recent 3D reviews dealing with Superheroes or invading
monsters battling robots, it's nice to receive a title like Polar Bears 3D from the
folks at Universal that allows me to soak in some nice nature footage and learn
a little something about these majestic creatures.
We are introduced to Ice Bear, a resident of the Western Hudson Bay. Like all
bears of that region, he is a noble hunter on the ice. However, as Summers now
become longer and the ice begins to melt faster, he is forced into starvation, living
off his fat reserves, hoping to survive until the ice forms once again. To date, these
Western Hudson Bear bears have been dwindling in population by 22%.
What is so utterly fascinating about Polar Bears: Ice Bear is that it's the first
documentary of its kind, that I have seen as of late, that doesn't overly preach to
its audience about the dangerous fate of climate change. Instead, it takes the viewer
on a very personal journey with a narration that makes sense of polar bear behavior
patterns in telling a very compelling story about their journey to survive.
Director and Cinematographer Adam Revetch sought to immerse the viewer into
this experience by shooting in native 3D. Despite the heavy camera rigs, drones
and remotes needed to be brought into the area to photograph, Revetch has done
a remarkable job in providing viewers with one of the most intimate experiences they
will ever have with these creatures. One of my favorite parts of this documentary involves
our hungry Ice Bear climbing cliffs in hopes of feasting upon a flock of thick-billed murres.
It's the kind of footage you don't get to see everyday, and it's quite amazing to watch.
By the way, the documentary reveals that scientists are currently following these bears
closely to see how they adapt to the warmer temperatures. Could they become pioneers
for other species in this new climate age?
As you would expect, this documentary looks spectacular on Blu-ray in 3D. It's right
up there with some of the best IMAX 3D titles that I have reviewed. It's beautifully rich
in color and detail, and the 3D provides an infinitely deep perception of the region. The
added amount of natural depth provides the viewer with a real sense of the landscape.
Blades of grass, rocks and other obstacles take an interesting position forefront as the
Polar Bears lie just beyond. Rays of sunlight add an interesting layered effect. There
is a keen sense of out-of-display distractions that include droplets of splashing water and
underwater bubbles that emanate from a swimming bear. There's even insects and other
non-descript blurs (some sort of bugs) that seem to fly inches outside of the eyewear to
the point that it actually becomes a realistic irritation to the viewer. Well done!
The 5.1 DTS track is immersive sonically as it is visually. The surrounds are put to great
use with providing a wealth of ambient noises such as whooshing arctic wind and sloshing
water. A wide separation of sound enables the listener to enjoy the grunts and snarls of
the polar bear, the barking of walruses, or the cawing of Murres as it encircles the entire
viewing area. Narration takes a strong presence in the front channels and it is supported
by a mostly light musical soundtrack with some nice LFE undertones from time to time.
The advertised running time of this documentary, according to Amazon, is 100 minutes.
I could not find the listed time on the Blu-ray box. What I can tell you is that the feature
itself runs just under 50 minutes. There are included deleted and extended scenes
presented separately in 3D Also included is a behind-the scenes feature with Director
and Cinematographer Adam Ravetech in 2D. These extras may have been included in
the listed running time or perhaps Amazon just got it all wrong. I'll talk about why I bring
all this up at the conclusion of my review.
Both 3D and 2D versions of the feature are included on a single disc.
I would like to end this review by noting that I have just installed my dream display in
my home theater. I have it listed at the close of this post. This actually the very first title
I am reviewing on that display, so I am particularly excited and pleased by the overall
level of depth and out-of-screen distractions this title provided. I suppose what I am saying
is that this was the perfect disc to christen my new display with.
I would love to recommend everyone interested in this kind of documentary to go out
and purchase Polar Bears: Ice Bear. It's certainly as good as any of the IMAX 3D
documentaries that I have highly rated. The problem? As of the posting of this review,
it comes with a price tag of nearly $27. That's quite a bit for a documentary just under
50 minutes. Put it on your wish list and pick it up the moment it drops to about $20.
One last note: this title may be a bit severe for young children. It depicts some brief,
startling images of dead polar bears and other rotting carcass.
Images are for illustrative purpose only not representative of the picture quality of this disc.
Panasonic TC-P65ZT60 THX Certified 3D display
Oppo BDP-93 3D Blu-ray Player
Denon 3311CI Receiver
Atlantic Technology H-PAS AT-1 fronts, 4400 center; 4200 rear speakers
SV Sound Subwoofer