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Image Entertainment presents
"Coral reefs have been going strong for 60 million years."
DVD ReviewCoral reefs are stunning creations that baffle the mind with their remarkable colors and marine life. Aquariums in cities like Boston and New Orleans present impressive exhibitions of these living structures to visitors who live far from the oceans. Yet these indoor miniatures only scratch the surface of experiencing coral reefs on an intimate level. Numerous marine enthusiasts (including this reviewer) have never witnessed them in person, which is a shame, but all is not lost. The IMAX kings at MacGillivray Freeman have crafted an engaging picture that provides a close inspection of the majestic reef environment.
Featuring music from Crosby, Stills & Nash, Coral Reef Adventure contains plenty of compelling footage documenting some unique ocean creatures. The tale begins at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia as naturalists attempt to discover the origins of some new reef problems in Fiji. The first segment includes some wondrous shots of small fish interacting with divers and even crawling into a woman's mouth. Moving onward to Fiji, they quickly discover that the larger creatures were missing from that ecosystem. What calamity had befallen them and seriously damaged the reef? Problems do relate to global warming, but overfishing and mankind's removal of the tropical rainforest upstream also played a major role. Could this damaged be reversed, or is the Fiji coral reef doomed?
This film does veer into saddening territory concerning environmental destruction, but at its heart is a positive depiction of beautiful corals. We learn about the advantages gained by humans on land, especially in regards to scientific research. The education process is still ongoing and even allows some children the opportunity to become inspired into a lifelong career. The adult scientists also have intense curiosity and want to dive deeper, but dangers from the bends could be disastrous. One personal story reveals that exploring uncharted regions may not always so easy. Facing a pressure 12 times that of a normal dive, these guys take considerable risks to discover new marine areas.
Coral Reef Adventure follows the typical MacGillivray Freeman model of combining entertaining natural footage with educational materials. The pictures become more interesting due to the involvement of scientists who describe their own reactions to the experience. This film may lack the joyous excitement of Dolphins or the intriguing material of Journey Into Amazing Caves, but it still provides an enjoyable experience. Flying above the green mountains and crystal-clear waters of French Polynesia, the inspiring shots again reveal the chilling effects of this type of film. Even when viewed on the small screen, these images take your breath away and nicely complement the information conveyed.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+
Image Transfer Review: Coral Reef Adventure gives viewers the option of choosing between a 1.33:1 full-frame picture and a far superior 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. While these images obviously pale in comparison to seeing them on an eighty-foot screen, they still provide an impressive experience. The colors are very bright and especially sharp, which presents the diverse marine life in stunning fashion. The transfer includes minimal defects and translates the grand IMAX shots wonderfully to the small screen.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: This disc includes two impressive 5.1-channel audio transfers in the DTS and Dolby Digital formats. I've found that the MacGillivray Freeman IMAX releases generally contain excellent audio transfers, and this one is no exception. Both transfers provide powerful experiences and enhance the effects of the colorful images. The DTS version contains a bit more movement through the sound field, but it is only slightly better than its Dolby Digital counterpart.
Audio Transfer Grade: A
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Dolphins, The Magic of Flight, Stormchasers, The Living Sea, The Discoverers, Journey Into Amazing Caves
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
A second featurette offers an 11-minute summary of past MacGillivray Freeman films through scenes and discussions from many of the pictures. A promotional narrator discusses the company's successes and leads into the different moments. Another intriguing offering is a 26-minute video montage of coral reef footage that can be run continuously. It offers the option of including music from composer Patrick Ryan. The remaining supplements include preview trailers, a movie trivia quiz, and a biography of director Greg MacGillivray.
This release also includes an extra disc that allows you to view Coral Reef Adventure in high definition on your PC. My computer was not powerful enough to use this disc, but I'm guessing it is a striking experience. The requirements include Microsoft Windows XP, a Windows Media Player 9 Series, and a 2.4 GHz Processor.
Extras Grade: A-
Final CommentsCoral Reef Adventure works both as pure entertainment and as an informative scientific film. The short running time provides a benefit in keeping our attention focused solely on the events unfolding. Supported by top-notch visual and audio transfers, this release is a recommended addition for viewers interested in the natural world.
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