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RING OF FIRE ($25) is another great entry in the continuing series of Imax films which has been released on Laserdisc and now on DVD by Lumivision. Narrated by Robert Foxworth, RING OF FIRE looks at the wonder of the volcanoes that circle the globe along the Pacific rim. Volcanoes truly are one of the most fascinating and destructive forces on the planet. Images of molten lava and black ash never cease to capture the imagination of the human race. Once where there was a mountain and perhaps civilization, the terrain is laid barren by the unstoppable lava flow that buries all in its wake. There is a haunting beauty that comes perhaps not from the destruction, but from the life that exists inside the planet. The Earth is a living thing with an inner turmoil which is constantly moving and constantly changing the face of the world on which we live. RING OF FIRE documents a number of the volcanoes around the world; showing not only what they have laid waste, but all that they have created. RING OF FIRE also shows volcanoes to be part of mother nature's process of renewal, not just a destructive force. Additionally, RING OF FIRE uses computer animation to take us inside the planet to explain the internal forces that move the continents, and why they help to create volcanoes. RING OF FIRE is certainly one of the best Earthbound Imax films.

RING OF FIRE looks as good on DVD as it did on Laserdisc. The Laserdisc was really good, and so is the DVD. Of course no home video transfer can do justice to the splendor of the Imax format. Imax is a large film format intended to be projected on a screen many stories high. No ones home theater equipment can compete with such a setting. However, the DVD edition of RING OF FIRE remains a fond souvenir of this wondrous film. The transfer is quite sharp and features very good color reproduction. The lack of video noise gives the DVD an edge in terms of color fidelity, over what was previously available on the Laserdisc. Digital artifacts were only slightly noticeable in a couple of darker sequences, and one really had to be looking for them.

The audio portion of RING OF FIRE is something of a disappointment when compared to its Laserdisc counterpart. The matrixed Dolby Surround soundtrack had a fantastic, full bodied mix. The DVD is presented in two channel Dolby Digital. The Dolby Digital gives decent stereo imaging, but doesn’t envelope you the way the track on the Laserdisc does. Also, the bass that shook the viewer on the Laserdisc seems anemic on the DVD. Strangely enough, RING OF FIRE is presented twice on the DVD, although there is no indication of this on the DVD booklet.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1997 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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