Antarctica is one of the few places on Earth that has stayed largely
unchanged since it was first explored. It's basically the same today
as it was nearly a century ago when Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen raced
to the South Pole. (A race that Amundsen won. Scott and his
companions arrived after the Norwegian explored and died on the return
trip.) One of the most inhospitable places on Earth, it's also a
continent of great beauty and amazing sights. Now people can enjoy
the gorgeous vistas and remarkable animals of the southern most place on
Earth from the comfort of their own living room with Antarctica Dreaming:
Wildlife on Ice. This Blu-ray disc has a wonderful image that
is sure to impress.
Originally released on HD DVD earlier in 2007, HD Scape has created
a very unique viewing experience with this disc. Like many of their
releases, this BD is great to put on when you want soothing music and striking
images on in the background. This disc goes a step further
however, and also includes an optional narration track which turns this
disc into a very good documentary. The narration provides ample information
on the animals, geological formations, and landscape that make up this
disc and really adds a lot of value to the disc.
feature is broken into 13 parts, each of which examines a particular animal
or part of the Antarctic environment. While four types of penguins
and three varieties of seal make up the bulk of this documentary, the producers
wisely split them up. Interspersing sections on other animals and
some wonderful chapters on the landscape and weather with the seals and
penguins ensures that the show doesn't get dull. The life and habits
of the flightless birds are fairly interesting, but too much at once would
have ensured boredom. As it is, the show is entertaining for the
entire 83 minute running time.
Even more engaging than the animals are the sections on icebergs and
glaciers. Who would have thought that pictures of ice would be compelling?
These gigantic hunks of frozen water are so impressive and beautiful that
it's hard to take your eyes away.
Filmed by Emmy Award winner David Hannan the compositions and framing
are truly impressive. Virtually each frame is an exciting image.
Hannan really understands where to place the camera in order to get a wonderful
shot, and this disc is full his carefully composed visuals. Even
if you have no interest in the wildlife of Antarctica, this is still a
fascinating disc to watch.
The Blu-ray Disc:
The MPEG-4, AVC encoded 1080p image is presented with a ratio of 1.78:1
and looks very impressive. The white-blue landscapes are achingly beautiful,
with the whites being strong but not crushed or overly bright. The
level of detail is stunning at times, with textures and wind blown patterns
easily discernible on the snow and ice covered land. The individual
hairs of the Fur Seals are easy to see in the close-ups with the dark fur
being well defined and sharp.
Digital defects are surprisingly minimal. Digital noise was absent
though I was expecting it to be prevalent. The large patches of white
are smooth without any mosquito noise and the cloudless sky is even and
quiet. There was only the most minor posterization in one or two
shots, and some equally trivial jittering during a couple of camera pans.
These are easy to ignore, and most viewers won't even notice them.
Viewers can screen this disc in two ways: with narration or only
music only, both in DD True HD 5.1. This is one of the few discs
where a music soundtrack makes sense. It turns this solid documentary
into a great disc to have on when entertaining or for just to liven up
a room. The music really accents the on-screen images well, creating
a relaxing yet interesting piece.
The narration by Ben Feldstein is informative and well done. Feldstein
is a bit sedate in his delivery, but his well toned voice is perfectly
suited for voice-overs. He's not trying to entertain the under-20
crowd like some documentaries that are being released nowadays; he's informing
viewers about the amazing visuals that they are seeing, which is as it
The audio quality on both options is very good. The multi-track
audio makes good use of the soundstage, with some nice panning and some
discrete audio effects. The music has a wide range, and the highs
There were some parts that left me a little cool (no pun intended.)
The bass wasn't as deep and forceful as I was hoping. When they show
apartment building-sized chunks of ice breaking off a glacier and falling
into the sea, for example, the sound accompanying the event is small and
thin and not nearly as impressive as the visual effect.
I was pleasantly surprised to find some nice bonus features included
on this disc. The most interesting extras are the six mini-documentaries:
Antarctica, Falklands, South Georgia, Whaling, Tourism, and Climate Change.
Each runs around five minutes and is a nice addition to the main feature.
There are also text pieces on the people involved with the production,
and a short behind-the-scenes text page.
This disc is full of beautiful images and would make a great Blu-ray
disc to play in the background. What's even better is that the optional
narration turns this film into a solid documentary. Filled with interesting
facts about the denizens of the southern most continent, Antarctica
Dreaming is more than just a glorified screen saver. The image
presented on this disc is lovely too, and sure to please high def buffs.
Note: The images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do
not necessarily represent the image quality on the disc.