The success of "March of the Penguins" remains something of a mystery to me. I found "Penguins" to be enjoyable and rather informative, but I felt like I'd seen quite a few nature films elsewhere (IMAX and otherwise) that were perfectly wonderful that didn't achieve the level of commerical success that "Penguins" did. Sure, the "Penguins" are cute, but most nature docs have at least some element of cuteness stashed away somewhere, even if that element of cuteness is about to be eaten by a larger and not so cute creature.
I suppose I'll consider the unusual success of "Penguins" to a good release date and smart marketing. Additionally, with the success of "Penguins", it's assured that we'll get to see other nature documentaries given a wider release, and that's certainly never a bad thing. "Following in the tracks of 'March of the Penguins'" (as the back cover notes), "Deep Blue" (which is a collection of the best scenes of the BBC series "Blue Planet", re-edited into a feature) didn't get nearly the same amount of attention as "Penguins", but it is a mildly entertaining addition to the genre.
The picture is narrated by Pierce Brosnan and spends its time visiting creatures that live in or around the sea. The camera focuses in on beautiful birds networking on rocks or swooping above the oceans, carefully observes a sea lion camp on a beach, spots some penguins and takes a dive to view some coral reefs, sharks, jellyfish and more. The problem? Brosnan's narration is brief and rather pointless, as he comes in rarely to offer some plainly obvious points about what we're watching (the first line of narration? "Our planet is a blue planet.") We really don't learn much of anything about the creatures on display, as directors Alastair Fothergill and Andy Byatt seem content to let the images play out unassisted.
While "Deep Blue" is short on educational value, the visuals are certainly marvelous. One remarkable scene early on has a group of fish spiraling into what can only be described as a silvery underwater tornado in order to keep away both dolphins and the birds hovering above. The scene above water is one of astonishing chaos, as the dolphins splash and the birds look for their chance to enter the fish market going on below. Another incredible shot features a legion of crabs who roll sand into a ball as they try to get nutrients out of it - by the end of the day, the entire beach has been covered in little sand balls.
Overall, this is a visually breathtaking feature, but I really didn't walk away from it having learned much (redoing and adding to the narration could have done wonders for this movie) and, as a result, it definitely wasn't as memorable as it could or should have been. Still, those seeking a some spectacular nature clips will certainly find something to enjoy here.
VIDEO: "Deep Blue" is presented by Miramax in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The image quality throughout the show is magnificent, as sharpness and detail remained exceptional at all times. Some slight shimmering was occasionally spotted, but the picture otherwise looked rock solid, with no edge enhancement, pixelation or other issues.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack delivered what one would expect from the material, as surrounds kicked in some crashing waves, underwater ambience and other environmental sounds, as well as some reinforcement for the score. Audio quality was lovely, as the score sounded rich and full-bodied, while dialogue remained clean and clear.
EXTRAS: A 51-minute "making of" documentary is the only extra here, but it's quite a nice bonus feature. The feature goes along with the team of cinematographers (a total of 40) as they head across land and into the sea to try and capture unique animal life. We also get interviews with the filmmakers and some fascinating behind-the-scenes clips of the filmmakers trying to bring their equipment into harsh conditions to capture penguins and other species.
Final Thoughts: "Deep Blue" has some amazing visuals, but improving the narration would have given the viewer a better understanding of the creatures shown. The DVD presentation offers excellent audio/video quality and one great supplement. A recommended rental for nature lovers.