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Blu-ray Review: IMAX Under the Sea

Posted on Friday, May 7th, 2010 3:21 PM by Scott Jentsch

Front Cover ArtworkIMAX Under the Sea
Blu-ray
Warner Home Video
41 Minutes

List Price: $35.99 (Check Price at Amazon.com)

This movie is also available from Amazon on DVD.

Available 3/30/2010

Rated G

Click here for additional movie details, (as well as the 3D version) including the full plot summary, cast listing, trailers and videos, photos, reviews of the movie, and links to the official movie web site and more.

  TheatricalThis Disc
Video Format:
70mm IMAX film
1080p VC-1
Aspect Ratio: 1.44:1 1.85:1
Audio:

Sonics-DDP
(6 ch. Lossless)

DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Other:  

Movie: BD-25 (x1) BD-MV

Disc Contents

  • Movie
  • Extras (2ch VC-1 HD)
    • Filming IMAX: Under the Sea (7:17)
    • Expedition Featurettes (12:00)

About the Movie

Imagine a world of incredible color and beauty. Of crabs wearing jellyfish for hats. Of fish disguised as frogs, stones and shag carpets. Of a kaleidoscope of underwater life. Now, go explore it! The makers of Deep Sea and Into the Deep take you into tropical waters alive with adventure: the Great Barrier Reef and other South Pacific realms.

Narrated by Jim Carrey and featuring astonishing camerawork, this amazing film brings you face to fin with Nature's marvels, from the terrible grandeur (and terrible teeth) of a Great White to the comic antics of a lovestruck cuttlefish.

How Does it Look?

Still from the movie (not an actual screenshot)

Many times, the quality of the image on a Blu-ray disc is limited by the quality of the source material. Whereas a substandard master can be used on a DVD release without much complaint, the higher resolution of the Blu-ray format exposes poor quality masters used for the transfer.

Fortunately, this movie had probably the best source material possible for a contemporary documentary. Filmed in 65mm IMAX and processed using an 8K digital intermediate (approx. 8192 x 3420), there's quality to spare!

The underwater scenes are very good, and I never noticed any issues with video quality or artifacts in the image. The main feature has scenes that will expose the limitations your display, so if you're seeing something that doesn't look right, it's time to recalibrate your display. The extras are a different story, as the video quality is often quite poor in the behind the scenes footage.

How Does it Sound?

As nice as the picture quality is, the sound quality is nothing to complain about, but the content of the soundtrack keeps this disc from being used as demo material. The DTS-HD Master Audio lossless sound never hiccups, although Jim Carrey's voice in the center channel is often overwhelmed by the soundtrack and sound effects coming through the other channels. It's hard to tell if that's intentional, as this is a documentary that was created to play to museum crowds.

Extras

I like to see the theatrical trailer included with movies, so I was disappointed that one isn't included here. Being able to watch the trailer helps one to appreciate how the movie was marketed during its theatrical release, and it's unfortunate when such a simple and obvious extra is not included.

The trailer and other promotional videos are available on the movie's official web site, including a Quicktime HD version of the trailer. If the web site is able to host the trailer in HD, why isn't it on this disc? At the very least, it should be made available via BD-Live so that the viewer is not required to watch the trailer on a computer or portable device instead of on the same display as they are watching the movie.

Filming IMAX: Under the Sea is an interesting look at the trials of filming with IMAX cameras that are very heavy and only hold a few minutes of film. The picture quality of this segment is very spotty, with low quality standard definition footage that sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the main feature. It's probably the best they had to work with, but considering their investment in the IMAX equipment, I'm surprised they couldn't have taken the behind the scenes footage with an HD camcorder.

The five Expedition Featurettes are interesting, but very short. If you don't choose the "Play All" function, you'll be grabbing for your remote before you even have a chance to get comfortable.

The extras listed here are also available on the movie's official web site, so if you're going there for the trailer and TV spot that they have there, you can watch the extras there as well. This fact reinforces the weakness of the on-disc extras for this title.

Other Aspects

This disc is BD-MV formatted, and as such, our PlayStation 3 was able to support auto-resuming the movie, but not after the disc is ejected. Most current Blu-ray players will be able to do so as well. Resuming playback is one of the biggest usability problems with the Blu-ray format that studios need to recognize and support, so it's good to see more studios making this possible, either through the format they use (BDMV) or through programming (BD-J). Bookmarking is not supported.

Conclusion

I'm a big fan of nature shows, but I found the approach taken in this documentary to be far too light for my taste. Perhaps because they made a movie that has to keep the attention of schoolkids that have just spent an hour or more looking at exhibits, they decided to keep this lighthearted, but it approaches being insulting to anyone that is actually paying attention. To top it off, they (lightly) touch upon issues that endanger the ocean and talk about the fact that humans are destroying these natural wonders, but then they end the movie with a cutesy song and show sea lions at play as if to provide the audience with an upbeat way to leave the theater. After all, you want them to go to the gift shop and buy some sea lion stuffed animals, right?

While the video quality and imagery is first-rate, the short running time and the hokey narration script keeps it from being a recommended purchase. It's worth renting to check out, however, so put it on your Netflix list and see for yourself.

Recommended Reading

Don't just take our word for it, check out these resources for more reviews of the movie and of the disc.

RentBuy


Check Prices on Amazon.com

A copy of this title was provided at no cost by the movie studio/distributor for the purpose of this review. No expectation of the results of this review were set as a condition of receiving the item.



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