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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » LCD/Plasma Ultimate HD Experience: Africa (Blu-ray)
LCD/Plasma Ultimate HD Experience: Africa (Blu-ray)
Wellspring // Unrated // March 31, 2009 // Region A
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted May 2, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Let's face it, one of the allures of having a big screen television is being able to show off beautiful landscapes and scenery in the luster that is high definition. In fact, it seems like when you get a new television (or the near mandatory high definition programming package), you pick up newer programming that you wouldn't have seen otherwise. For me, it was the Discovery Channel show Sunrise Earth. The show basically covers sunrises in various areas of America, and the world. Shows that focus on nature, and do it in high definition, are a good excuse to show off what high definition can do, and that's the mission of Experience Africa. I should note that the fill title is LCD/Plasma Ultimate HD Experience Africa. Featuring extended shots of the African landscape set to music from African composers, the hour-long feature shows the wonders of nature.

And there are some wonders. Lots of animals, feeding in their natural habitat, a lion passed out on a tree branch, taking an afternoon nap, many shots that one can't help feel were taken up close or with much stealth so as to preserve the essence of the shots. There's no denying that Africa is a beautiful place, and those who shot the film should be proud of what they've created.

With that said, the feature takes several wrong turns though. First off, the score becomes slightly pervasive and imposing after a few minutes. Combined with some of the sequences, said music comes off as a little porn-like, or at least done by a bunch of musicians who want to do the "Graceland" album somehow. The choice of shots tends to border on questionable as well. With Experience Africa, things tend to fall into a 60-40ish split of nature vs. its creatures, when the allure to many would be the animals that are part of Africa's land. We know that the land is breathtaking, but the choice of shots and music tends to be the wrong one. Some things are better left without musical accompaniment.

With all of that said, if you're looking for a pleasant easygoing experience, then you'll certainly enjoy LCD/Plasma Ultimate HD Experience Africa. But you can find deeper and more profound experiences in Africa, while still getting breathtaking visuals in high definition.

The Disc:
Video:

The Experience Africa disc is presented in 1.78:1 with the AVC MPEG-4 codec. Produced by an entertainment group in Holland and released in North America, the feature appears to be shot on film, and deals with bouts of image jitter when the camera moves to another image in frame. And while you can see the images for miles, in some cases the image lacks the detail that would have been preferred in similar pieces. Put this up against, say, a Planet Earth, and you can see the differences. Experience Africa looks good, just not great.

Audio:

You get a choice of two Dolby tracks, a two-channel stereo and the 5.1 channel surround option. The six-channel mix isn't all that special, as the music is the only thing to speak of, and it sounds clear with the occasional directional sound or two in the rear channels, and subwoofer activity is nonexistent. It does what it's supposed to, but I was expecting a little more from the track in general.

Extras:

Like much of the African wilderness, this disc doesn't have anything.

Final Thoughts:

While Experience Africa is harmless and quick fun for an hour, if you want more exciting material than this, not to mention visuals that are more advantageous to showing off a high definition home theater setup. Both on the lack of appealing material and (more importantly) technical merits label it as one you could skip for nicer fare.

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