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Although the Imax experience is something that can never be recreated at home- no matter how big your display is, these incredibly large format films still play exceedingly well on DVD. BLUE PLANET ($20) takes a look at our home- the planet Earth and features some stunning planetary photography thanks to the space shuttle astronauts. Not only does BLUE PLANET show the Earth from high above, land based cameras also highlight many surface details of our world in startling clarity. In addition, BLUE PLANET brings out the harsh realities of life on Earth by showing Mother Nature in all her fury, as well as the hazards we face from outer space. BLUE PLANET also shows viewers how fragile the ecosystem actually is, and delivers the message that mankind is causing all the damage. Of course, BLUE PLANET doesn't beat the audience of the head with this message, but it does get the word out that we must begin to take better care of Mother Earth.

Warner Home Video has done a very good job of transcribing BLUE PLANET to DVD. BLUE PLANET is presented full frame and all of the footage originating in Imax looks absolutely wonderful- sharp and finely detailed. 35mm footage optically printed into a small window on the much larger Imax frame shows noticeable film grain and other imperfections. However, the 35mm sections are primarily archival footage of space missions and really cannot be improved upon. Colors are rendered with a natural level of saturation, although the blues and greens of our world appear quite vibrant. There are no problems with chroma noise or bleeding during the presentation. Blacks appear accurate and shadow detail is very good. The forty-two minute film displays no traces of digital compression artifacts.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is an absolute knockout. Aggressively mix and utilizing the split surround channels prominently, this track really takes full advantage of the discrete nature of the format. I especially like how the rear channels were used to differentiate the astronauts' dialogue from the narration, which was tightly focused in the center channel. Primary dialogue reproduction is excellent, with Toni Myers' narration maintaining full intelligibility and her voice resonating quite naturally. The bass channel adds an earthshaking force to this already excellent sound mix. Directional sound effects truly benefit from the exemplary low frequency information. The film's synthesizer music is also well rendered by this fine mix. A French 5.1 channel soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese subtitles. Sound effects underscore the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard set up features, as well as an Imax/DVD trailer.

I've seen BLUE PLANET several times in the home venue and the DVD is the best that the film has ever looked and sounded. BLUE PLANET is a good Imax movie with an important message- not only is it entertaining and informative, it gets the word out without ever getting preachy. Definitely recommended to Imax and surround sound junkies, as well as anyone else who is interested in the blue planet we call home.


Blue Planet


DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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