IMAX films, in my opinion, can still vary very greatly. I've seen some magnificent IMAX features such as Stephen Low's "Beavers" or some of director/producer Greg MacGillivray's movies. I've also seen some IMAX films where I can hardly imagine that someone thought they would be worth putting into theaters, such as the recent "T-Rex". Greg MacGillivray has brought audiences some wonderful IMAX movies, whether as a producer or director, and "Dolphins" is another example of just how this format can provide the viewer with an outstanding viewing experience, offering both entertainment, and education about the world around us.
In "Dolphins", we learn about the creatures and their world, and even further details about the way that they communicate that I've never heard before, such as how they can track food under sand at the bottom of the ocean. Through interviews and narration with specialists (James Bond...er, Pierce Brosnan provides the primary narration for the movie), we are introduced to the ways that dolphins communicate and live, and the dangers they face.
The movie manages to be a big, gorgeous film, and yet personal as well. Where some IMAX films can look beautiful but forget to involve the audience. With Brosnan's strong narration and Sting's enjoyable music, "Dolphins" really takes a place near the top of my list of favorite films in the IMAX format.
VIDEO: Image Entertainment presents "Dolphins" here in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full-frame. The previous DVD edition offered only the full-frame edition - the anamorphic widescreen presentation is new, and quite excellent. Sharpness and detail are marvelous, as the picture appears as crystal clear as the glassy water the dolphins in the film swim around in.
SOUND: Image Entertainment has thankfully given viewers the choice of DTS or Dolby Digital audio presentations for this (and also for their other recent IMAX pictures). The one element that really is remarkable on this film's audio is Sting's fantastic score, which sounds particularly beautiful on the DTS soundtrack. The DTS soundtrack offers some subtle improvements; it sounds warmer and fuller than the Dolby version with improved clarity; the sound comes together more seamlessly to create the experience than on the Dolby version.
Although this is not the most aggressive IMAX soundtrack I've experienced, it is a still a pleasingly active film in terms of audio, with Sting's score filling the listening space very well. This is, overall, a very pleasing soundtrack that doesn't miss any opportunities with the kind of material it explores.
EXTRAS: A big new supplement included in this set is an additional DVD that includes the film in WMV High Definition. This can only be played on a PC DVD-ROM drive. Requirements include Windows XP, 2.4GHZ processor,64MB video card,384MB of RAM and a 16-bit sound card.
The Making Of "Dolphins": As with most of Image's IMAX titles, we get a very impressive "Making Of" presentation. With most of these "Making Of" documentaries, it's almost as interesting as the movie itself. Like the rest of the documentaries, this making of answers that question that's often asked after viewing an IMAX film - how did they film that? If you've never seen the details of an IMAX production, the cameras and equipment that the filmmakers have to take into this universe is quite massive.
The documentary takes us from day one: a gigantic amount of gear that has to be brought down to the locations. Similar to other documentaries about the format, this one is very personal, almost inviting the viewer behind-the-scenes, as we see the production at work and discussing the way to go about getting the next shot. Through interviews and footage, we get an idea of how huge the amount of work is that has to go into using the IMAX equipment in these amazing locations, such as underwater, in this case.
Trailers: Trailers for "Dolphins", "The Magic Of Flight", "Stormchasers", "The Living Sea" and "The Discoverers", all of which are available on DVD.
Books: Information on two dolphin books and small photo galleries for each.
Also: Weblink, 11 minute clip on Marine Science, more information on MacGillivray/Freeman films(whose next picture is "Journey Into Amazing Caves", coming early next year), director bio and additional DVD credits.
Final Thoughts: "Dolphins" is a fun and informative IMAX presentation that perfectly mixes its offering of entertainment and knowledge. Image Entertainment has again done a fine job in the presentation, with excellent audio and video quality, in this case especially with new anamorphic widescreen presentation. Those who have PCs who are capable can also watch the WMV HD presentation on the second disc. As usual, the lengthy "Making Of" documentary proves to be a fascinating look into the journey of filming a "large-format" motion picture. "Dolphins" is highly recommended.