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Image Entertainment presents
Yellowstone (IMAX) (1994)

"Yellowstone is a geological park; it is a window on the interior of the earth."
- Narrator

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: October 27, 2002

Stars: Bart the Bear
Director: Keith Merrill

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (suitable for all audiences)
Run Time: 0h:32m:06s
Release Date: September 17, 2002
UPC: 017078980820
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

In the modern climate of towering skyscrapers and ugly strip malls, Yellowstone stands apart as a nearly separate world of natural wonders. Although the countless tourists do lessen the grand feeling of experiencing the wilderness, the national park still offers plenty of impressive charms. Abundant forms of wildlife that dominate the scenic area include bears, elk, bison, and deer.

This IMAX film originally appeared on the large screens of science centers and natural history museums across the country. Now packaged on DVD as part of the "America the Beautiful" three-disc set, it gives us a quick overview of the history and picturesque highlights of the renowned American park. Accompanied by sparse narration and dramatized quotes from historic figures, the story provides education while showcasing outdoor delights. We begin with the original Native American inhabitants and witness a silly confrontation with a fearsome bear. The events quickly move closer to the present and focus on the first European arrival into Yellowstone. Majestic mountain scenery appears within the type of striking aerial shot often witnessed on large-format pictures.

The next segments quickly move through history and describe several notable explorers, including young Joseph Meek, who entered the park at the age of 19. Unfortunately, this material wavers toward dull shots mixed with quotes delivered by monotonous speakers. The film does become more interesting with the discussion of Old Faithful—the well-known underground volcano for which the area is famous. Scientist Francis Boyd arrived with the theory that the geyser was a collapsed caldera, which ends up being correct. We see a cheap, computerized look at the formation of the landscape over millions of years, which is moderately effective.

The IMAX format allows for incredible explorations of hidden places not easily accessible to the common traveler. The best films in this genre combine moments of human interest with images of stunning grandeur. While Yellowstone does contain some impressive shots, it does not inspire the personal connection present in such recent classics as Everest and Journey Into Amazing Caves. The brief running time makes it mildly interesting and worth a look, but the overall effectiveness falls well short of the premier IMAX releases.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: While home viewing will obviously pale in comparison to the IMAX experience, this disc offers a nice full-frame presentation. The colors are generally bright and well defined, which helps to make the scenery more impressive. Especially noteworthy are the long shots, which include magnificent mountain vistas and remarkable sunsets. A few defects and grain do appear several times, but they are not a major distraction.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, Mandarin, Germanyes

Audio Transfer Review: Thankfully, Yellowstone offers a 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer, which is basically a necessity to recreate the IMAX experience. Narration appears in Mandarin, German, and English, all utilizing the digital soundtrack. This is not among the level of the premier offerings, but it does enhance the grandeur of the images pictured. Ambient sounds appear nicely in the rear speakers, and Bill Conti's score powerfully springs from the front of the sound field.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu
Scene Access with 7 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Scanavo
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: This release contains no extra features except for a web link accessible through your computer. The absence of supplements is especially notable because the other two discs in the "America the Beautiful" set each contain behind-the-scenes featurettes and trailers.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

I have never visited Yellowstone and was hoping for a more compelling presentation of its highlights. While director Keith Merrill does a decent job covering the history, he misses the extra touches necessary for memorable cinema. Outdoor enthusiasts will probably enjoy the piece, but I doubt it compares well to the actual experience.


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