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Blue Planet, The - Vol. 3: Seas Of Life Review




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Rating
Video:   8/10
Audio:   8/10
Extras:   5/10

Simply Breathtaking
by Gord Lacey (All reviews)
7/21/2002

BBC is known for their series' about the animal kingdom, so when I read about "Blue Planet" I knew it would be good. This is a spectacular 8 part series that reveals sea life most of us have never seen before. The cinematography is amazing, and the subject matter is fascinating. It took them years to plan and shoot the series and their work sure has paid off. The third volume in the series contains "Season Seas" and "Coral Seas".

Seasonal Seas
As the days grow longer, billions of microscopic plankton bloom under the blazing sun. Here in the temperate seas, three-ton basking sharks graze among forests of giant kelp-the fastest growing plant in the world. The forests harbor thousands of other animals, including sea otters, brilliantly colored anemones, squid, and exquisite leafy dragons. But as the year wears on, storms rage in the icy sea. a desperate challenge for the animals that remain.

Coral Seas
Bathed in bright sunlight and warm, clear water, the coral reef is a rich oasis of life- the rainforest of the sea. Bizarrely adorned harlequin shrimp carry off a starfish several times their size, while haunting songs reverberate around the reef, heralding the arrival of humpback whales. Shimmering schools of brightly colored fish battle for territory in this competitive world where you have to stand out to survive.

Menus
Wonderful imagery is displayed behind the menus for this disc, although it makes it a little hard to read the text on the screen at times. These menus are also 1.78 anamorphic widescreen for those of you with widescreen sets.

Video

Unlike most TV releases, "Blue Planet" features a 1.78 anamorphic widescreen transfer, and for the most part it is stunning. The colors of the fish and other underwater creatures are nice and bright throughout the episodes, something that I'm assuming would have been hard to achieve shooting underwater. There's quite a bit of noticeable grain in the above-water shots, but there are very few of those shots. I also noticed some banding while the titles were being displayed for "Season Seas" which was only on the screen for a second or two. Grain and minor banding aside, the picture is amazing. My mouth was hanging open at some of the shots in the series.

Audio

A big kudos to the sound effects department who put together an audio track that was fun to listen to. Sure, it's stereo, but they did a great job creating underwater sounds for the series. David Attenborough, the narrator for the series, was easy to understand throughout. There aren't any subtitles for this release, but each episode is Closed Captioned.

Extras - How we rate extras

A nice bunch of extras on the set; not overwhelming, but not too light either.

Making of Seasonal Seas (9:29)
Some behind-the-scenes footage from the making of the episode.

Making of Coral Seas (9:44)
Some behind-the-scenes footage from the making of the episode.

Interview with Alastair Fothergill (8:14)
An interview with the series producer.

Fact Files
11 text screens with information from "The Blue Planet: Seas of Life" book

Photo Gallery
20 photos from the two episodes.

Trailers
Three trailers are included on the disc. "BBC America", an ad for the network; "Walking With Dinosaurs & Allosaurus" and "Walking With Prehistoric Beasts", some other BBC releases I'd love to take a look at.

Summary

I really, really loved this disc and I've recommended it to quite a few people. I went snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef about 3 years ago, and watching "Coral Seas" brought back a lot of memories. The oceans are wonderful, mysterious places, and shows like "The Blue Planet" always leave me in awe of how little we know about them. I can hardly wait to watch volume 4 (it's sitting right here), and I've tried to find volumes 1 and 2 in local stores but they're always sold out! A gift set featuring volumes 1-4 will be released on August 27th, so if you don't have any of them yet I'd recommend ordering that one.


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