|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Wednesday, 20 October 2010|
Earth ” arriving last year. A great lover of the ocean myself I was really looking forward to this release. Unfortunately, it fails to really impress. It lacks a strong cohesive factor and enough interesting moments.
Documentaries suffer 99 percent of the time from a lack of interesting visual concepts. When thinking about a documentary covering the oceans of the planet, there should be no shortage of breathtaking footage. Unfortunately, “Oceans” uses some pretty standard footage and without a large variety.
The entirety of the first 15 minutes of the film is simple footage of schools of fish. Fairly typical and fairly boring. Beautiful? Yes. But it gets old quick. The most interesting parts of the documentary happen to be the shortest. The 45 seconds on sea otters is terrific but short-lived. Another capturing moment is toward the end with the miniature exploration of the polar regions. Both were too short for my taste.
“Oceans” fails to really give us a good sense of what is happening on screen and what the motivation is behind the action. The film isn’t really about the habits of sea creatures so I understand why they didn’t give us more narration. The film is in fact about saving the oceans from manmade disasters. Unfortunately, in this regard, the narration fails to impress upon is the importance.
Pierce Brosnan narrates the film. His narration is full of ridiculous analogies and poetic sentiments. If you can maintain interest in the film then you are likely going to over look the narration script blunders. However, if you are like me, and find too few and far between segments of enjoyableness, then you are going to easily pick up on the cheesy and sometimes downright awful narration.
Ultimately, this film is lacking a cohesive factor that maintains interest from beginning to end. The narration drives a wedge between the images and the audio. I wish there were a non-narration version to the audio track. So, enjoy the beauty of the imagery, but you may just end up falling asleep.
Even though the film itself doesn’t really work out, the video quality is superb. You will never see the ocean this blue and this clear on your own. Colors are exquisite. Every colorful fish is perfectly rendered. Grains of sand and coarse coral contain refined texture and detail. It is simply amazing how clear this high-definition video is. Shooting in such dark areas of the oceans is incredibly difficult but this documentary pulls it off with ease. Usually animation can render environments like the ocean more beautifully than cameras can capture. Take “Finding Nemo” for example. The colors and details in that film are extraordinary. But, I am happy to report that this high definition video presentations bests that animated feature. Each crashing wave and swirl is captured magnificently. The video transfer is the real treat here folks.
Nearing perfection is also the audio track. This DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 presentation provides the best experience I have heard when it comes to oceanic sounds. Waves effortlessly move around your head as the crash against the lighthouse and a large sea vessel. Even in the more subdued moments, the audio continues to be engaging. When two crab armies collide and build a mountain under water the detail of the audio is exquisite. Each an every pincher of the crab can be heard crackling. As Brosnan states in the narration, sound does travel louder, farther and faster in the ocean than on land. This audio presentation definitely provides that sense. While there isn’t much in the way of discreet panning effects from front to rear, enveloping remains strong. The LFE channel can be bombastic when the occasion arises. My only complaint is that the narration, as bad as it may be is a bit low in the mix.
The Blu-ray comes with two exclusive special features. First there is a picture-in-picture track that brings up trivia info, crew interviews and a variety of other footage during the film. As with “Earth,” “Oceans” is equipped with Living Menus which are updated via BD-Live and provide exclusive information about various hot spots.
The Blu-ray is also equipped with “Make A Wave” a music video by Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas and “Preserving The Nature We Share” (a conservation EPK). There is also a preview for the next Disneynature release, “African Cats,” which looks simply incredible.
The package also contains a DVD copy of the film.
“Oceans” contains some interesting segments, but they are few and far between. The message of the film, to help preserve or oceans, gets lost through fluffy narration. Luckily, the audio and video qualities are amazing and should not be missed. If you can make it through the documentary then you are in for a stunning presentation.