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Miramax Pictures presents
Deep Blue (2005)

"More men have been to space than have visited the deepest reaches of an alien world."
- Pierce Brosnan (narrator)

Review By: Dan Heaton  
Published: April 11, 2006

Stars: Pierce Brosnan (narrator)
Director: Allastair Fothergill, Andy Byatt

MPAA Rating: G for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:30m:43s
Release Date: April 11, 2006
UPC: 786936688344
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+A-A- B

DVD Review

Numerous IMAX films and Discovery Channel specials have explored the complex life within the sea, but few have presented it with such grandeur as Deep Blue. Not surprisingly, it comes from the creators of the popular television series Blue Planet, which took a similar approach, but on a smaller scale. The cameras capture a wide array of wildlife, including many that I could not identify if you gave me ten guesses. Watching these images appear on the screen for 90 minutes is a very enjoyable experience, but the educational value of this film actually fell below my initial expectations.

Narrated by Pierce Brosnan, this film keeps the instructional moments to a minimum and instead gives him more general statements that could apply to a variety of scenes. He also was the voice of the wonderful IMAX film Dolphins, and that light-hearted educational approach is missing here. Directors Andy Byatt and Alastair Fothergill appear more concerned with expressing the majesty of the seas, and this approach completely succeeds. During one remarkable moment, a gigantic school of fish forms into a tornado-shaped structure, and it's almost impossible to believe. When the larger fish invade the schools and start eating groups of fish, I challenge anyone to look away from this riveting sequence.

The first hour presents the more standard marine life, including the gigantic blue whale, vicious sharks, and diverse and colorful rays. We also witness some fast-paced hunting footage of the type that has been seen before, but rarely accompanied by orchestral music. The energetic score from Howard Fenton (Cry Freedom, Gandhi) and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra plays a pivotal role in the picture and moves it beyond the typical nature documentary. As a polar bear waits to pounce into the water unto unsuspecting beluga whales, the music grows quiet and then quickly hits a feverish pitch during the attack. The score may seem a bit over the top at times, but it does help to generate a more involving experience.

Deep Blue really hits its stride during its final act, which takes us more than 15,000 feet beneath the surface. This pitch-black water's only lighting comes from the organisms themselves, which are some of the creepiest actual beings I've ever witnessed. Brosnan gives us some basic narration about the environment, but he fails to specifically describe the occurrences on the screen. This omission also removes the sense of place from our journey, as we rarely know what area is pictured. This one negative fails to detract from the overall experience, which includes numerous inspiring moments. Nature enthusiasts should make this picture required viewing, as it includes powerful footage that will surprise even the most complete marine lover.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Deep Blue is the type of picture that warrants viewing on the big screen or at least a large widescreen television. The stunning natural images are okay on the standard television, but they would reach another level in the theater. That said, this 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer fails to disappoint and offers an impressive experience. The colors remain sharp, and the grain level is pretty minimal throughout the film.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: This release offers a powerful 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer that immerses you inside the marine atmosphere. The rear speakers are used effectively to provide the sound effects needed to create this environment. Pierce Brosnan's narration is easily understood, and the music springs effectively from the entire sound field. It's unfortunate that a DTS track is missing, but this transfer delivers a strong presentation.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spnaish with remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Clearing, Microcosmos
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Deep Blue includes only one notable extra feature, but this inclusion is definitely worth your viewing time. The 51-minute behind-the-scenes documentary answers many of the "How did they shoot that?" questions that arise while watching the impressive picture. Directors Andy Byatt and Alastair Fothergill discuss their approach to crafting the film, and we observe the individual cinematographers shooting the wildlife. The creation of the melodic score also receives significant coverage. The interviews are candid and lack over-the-top promotional language, which leads to an intriguing feature. Trailers for The Clearing and Microcosmos also appear prior to the menu, which is never a refreshing practice.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Deep Blue provides an intense experience that moves beyond the typical nature documentary on a visceral level. Supported by an energetic classical score, the footage becomes more effective and keeps us glued to the screen. While I would have hoped for a bit more knowledge concerning the wildlife, the strength of this film cannot be denied, which warrants a recommendation.


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