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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Science > Environment > Large Frame Format > IMAX Blu-ray: Coral Reef Adventures, Dolphins and The Living Sea (Image Entertainment)

IMAX Blu-ray: Coral Reef Adventures, Dolphins and The Living Sea (Image Entertainment)


Picture: B+/B/B     Sound: B+     Extras: C+     Films: B-



As The Dark Knight arrives on Blu-ray, one of its highlights will be the IMAX-shot footage, with the large-frame square blocks of 70mm film a highlight of the shoot.  Of course, short films in the format have been constantly produced since IMAX first arrived in the mid-1970s, so literally hundreds of titles have been made non-stop since.  Among the proponents of these releases on home video (beginning with the old 12” LaserDisc format, then DVD) has been Image Entertainment.  Out now on Blu-ray are three of the fun science/adventure titles: Coral Reef Adventures, Dolphins and The Living Sea.


I have been fortunate enough to see all of them before, including in actual 70mm IMAX prints.  Coral Reef Adventures (2003) is narrated by Liam Neeson, has plenty of songs by Crosby, Stills & Nash, runs a compelling 46 minutes and is the best of the three films here.  The least seen of the vital structures featured across these releases, the program has the one-of-a-kind shots only IMAX can deliver and is the kind of IMAX program that put the format on the map.  This one held up very well and is as underseen as it is underrated.


Dolphins (2000) and The Living Sea (1995) both have songs by Sting, but I like them anyhow.  Still an endangered species, Dolphins shows the mighty animals in all of their glory and in the way the IMAX camera shows them off casually is argument enough to have an international effort to save them if Star Trek IV was not enough.  Pierce Brosnan (while still James Bond) narrated this solid program that also holds up very well to the point that it is no surprise that it is one of the first IMAX Blu-ray releases.


The Living Sea offers narration by Meryl Streep and goes a great job of showing the ocean and priceless, non-disposable ecosystem, yet not enough has been done to save it and clean it since the release of this film and who knowns what has been permanently lost or damaged as global warming and corporate pollution has struck; especially in the 2000s.  As with the other films, you see the kinds of shots that gave the IMAX format its name and I was pleasantly compelled by what was here all over again.



The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition on all three releases do not offer a 1.33 x 1 alternate presentation, so you are missing some framing, but the detail and definition on Coral Reef Adventures is very good.  However, like the IMAX Blu-ray of Chronos (reviewed elsewhere on this site) has some detail issues that hold it back from being a consistent gem.  Sadly, Dolphins and The Living Sea have older transfers which make them visual disappointments with more grain and detail issues then they should have.  Just as the footage gets good, more problematic footage shows up, but to their credit, they do not rely too much on digital footage as Roving Mars (particularly notable on Blu-ray) did.  However, issuing transfers with these issues is problematic just the same.


The DTS HD Master Audio (MA) lossless 5.1 mixes on all three, despite minor variances in soundstage quality, are impressive and all have sonic demo moments worth owning any of them for.  The IMAX DTS DVDs Image has issued in the past have been impressive (the second edition of Super Speedway, for example) and the DTS HD MA here really shines.  The newer the film, the more dynamic, though The Living Sea was one of the few IMAX films ever mixed with the Sonix sound system (invented by Sony), so it has some unique character to it.  Coral Reef Adventures is just a tad better than the others, but you can’t go wrong with any of them for sound.  Extras include trailers for more Image IMAX Blu-rays and behind the scenes items for all three titles. 


For more examples of IMAX coverage, try these links:


Ski To The Max DVD in 1.33 X 1 framing



Chronos Blu-ray



Roving Mars Blu-ray




-   Nicholas Sheffo


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