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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Nature > Wildlife > Water > Mountains > Streams > Environment > Science > Cowboys > Horses > Lar > Glacier National Park (2007/Image Blu-ray) + How The Earth Changed History (2010/BBC Blu-ray) + Ride Around The World: IMAX (2006/Image Blu-ray)

Glacier National Park (2007/Image Blu-ray) + How The Earth Changed History (2010/BBC Blu-ray) + Ride Around The World: IMAX (2006/Image Blu-ray)


Picture: C+/B-/B-     Sound: C+/B/B     Extras: D/C/C     Main Programs: C+/B/B-



Thanks to more commercial success on Blu-ray and home video in general (plus some networks devoted to such documentary coverage), nature documentaries are as popular as ever and three examples of the different kinds on the market.  You get the HD-produced features like Glacier National Park (2007), TV Mini-Series like How The Earth Changed History (2010) and large frame format IMAX filmed pieces like Ride Around The World (2006), now all released in separate Blu-ray editions.


Glacier National Park runs an hour and is a fine, if too passive, look at the title locale.  It does not try to be more than it is, but despite all the beauty and even with the narration provided (which sometimes does not make sense), it still seems like there are a few missed opportunities here.


How The Earth Changed History has five episodes and leaves no stone unturned.  Deep Earth, Wind, Water, Fire and Human Planet make for excellent demonstrations (and for some, arguments) in how the world we live in today resulted and for the most part, I would agree with the presentation and content, but Professor Iain Stewart is very enthusiastic about it all and is having a good time and that rubs off if you watch enough.  You will see some shots here of our world you will not see anywhere else.


Ride Around The World may be the shortest presentation here at 40 minutes, but writer/director Harry Lynch’s look at the history of cowboys and how they shaped the modern world is much more interesting than you might expect and does not play to any stereotypical notions of anything as is typical of the high quality of IMAX productions.  If anything, cowboy are alive and well, using horses, skills and a combination of old and new technology to get their jobs done.  It is a fitting tribute and another solid look at the nature around us which plays a towering role here in the several countries this was shot in and fits the genre we place it into.



All have 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition images in 1080i, save the IMAX Ride Blu-ray, with relatively clearer 1080p digital High Definition 1.78 X 1 playback, which should be the outright winner here, but there are just one too many soft shots from what is likely an older HD master.  At its best, however, its superior shots put the other releases to shame as expected.  Changed has up to date HD cameras that still have their share of motion blur and detail issues, but no where nearly as bad as Glacier, with its aliasing problems, detail issues and other softness that shows it is an older HD production, saved only by color and some good shots throughout.  Its three Dolby Digital 5.1 options (with natural sound, narration or music) are also the weakest of the three Blu-rays, making the program without narration seem like a new age piece not unlike the fishbowl or fireplace programs that have been issued in all video formats as a gimmick.


That leaves the remaining programs sporting DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mixes that are both pleasant surprises and deliver fine playback performance.  In the case of Changed, the sound is not the lesser DTS-HR of some BBC Blu-rays and does not skip on the sound, which has a nice soundfield throughout all the five episodes.  It is warm, involving and well-recorded.  IMAX Ride was originally a 70mm 6-Track stereo release and typical of the standard IMAX configuration where the narration is very much in the center channel but soundfield does not suffer much and can be very impressive.  I only had a few moments where the sound was lower in some places than it should have been, but not much.


While Glacier has no extras, extras on the other releases include the Filming In Extremes interview with Prof. Iain Stewart on Changed and 23-minutes-long making of featurette on IMAX Ride, which also adds a Trivia Quiz and trailers for other IMAX Blu-ray releases.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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