In 10 Words or Less
Under the sea...under the sea...
Loves: Documentaries, good 3D
Likes: Nature films
Dislikes: Creepy creatures
Hates: Getting no extras
Is there anyone who isn't fascinated to see the mysterious world underneath the waves? (Besides those deathly afraid of water I guess. Or anyone who's lost a loved one to the denizens of the briny deep.) Though we don't have a Cousteau-type adventurer these days, that doesn't mean we can't get interesting underwater documentaries, thanks to the James Camerons of the world. Of course, we also have Cameron to thank for the burgeoning 3-D movement, due to the success of his multi-dimensional blockbuster Avatar. Bridging those two worlds is Amazing Ocean 3D, which brings Poseidon's kingdom to your 3D television to excellent effect, even if the visit is a bit brief.
The film follows a variety of fish and sea creatures as they do their thing, with a narrator leading you along like a tour guide showing you the sights in the ocean. Alonmg the way, you'll see plenty of sea dwellers you probably have seen like clownfish, jellyfish, manatees, squids and rays, but there are some more exotic varieties as well, like the odd parrotfish, the stick-like trumpetfish and the gruff goatfish. You'll find yourself learning plenty along the way, including the amazing camo-capabilities of the octopus, the disgusting role parrotfish play in the world of sand and the endangered status of sea turtles (along with the inflatable defense of the blowfish, that we inexplicably never see.) There's also a focus on the importance of environmental practice to protect these species,
Though the movie could have just been wall-to-wall high-definition 3D fish footage and it would have been worth watching, the narration by Glen McGready and the music by Nassouh Hichri makes it even better. McGready has a folksy, home-spun style that's endearingly off-brand for such a high-tech presentation, and it just gets more amusing when he directly addresses the viewer as if you're at the bottom of Lake Woebegone. The music on the other hand is energetic and modern, lending the proceedings an almost new-agey vibe. Combined, they keep everything moving nicely, though sometimes the score feels a bit ominous or foreboding, when there's nothing even remotely serious happening on-screen.
If there's anything you could say about this movie in the negative, it's that the entire package is a bit light in terms of content. At just 55 minutes, there's not a lot to this presentation. Each animal gets a short turn in the spotlight, with a few facts about them shared along with some pretty footage, before the movie moves on to the next mollusc. Sure, no one's expecting a college-level course in zooology on Blu-Ray, but it all feels a bit light on content considering what you're paying for a 3-D disc these days. Maybe they're playing it safe to avoid boring the many kids likely to be looking for little Nemo, but with imagery like this, no one large or small would complain about spending a bit more time with a cute sea lion or a playful dolphin. Even checking out some pretty coral doesn't sound like a bad time.
This release arrives on a single blu-ray disc packed in a standard-width Blu-Ray keepcase (inside an embossed slipcover that repeats the cover art.) The Blu-ray features a very clean menu, offering options to watch the film, select scenes and adjust the set-up. Audio options? Subtitles? Take a seat...let's look at the list. For audio, there are DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 tracks in Engish, Brazilian Portuguese, Castilian Spanish, Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Latin Spanish, Polish and Russian (and oddly a Canadian French DTS Digital Surround 2.0 track), while subtitles are available in English SDH, Canadian French, French, German, Italian, Castilian Spanish, Bulgarian, Arabic, Latin Spanish, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Brazilian Portuguese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Korean, Swedish, Turkish, Icelandic, Romanian, Japanese, Cantonese, Traditional Mandarin and Thai. That is some serious set-up diversity.
The 1.85:1 1080p, MVC-encoded 3D transfer (you can also watch the film in 2D if you desire) manages to introduce some impressive depth effects into the film without having much if any effect on the brightness or clarity of the image. That's great, because there's a ton of great detail in the crystal-clear ocean footage (when it is crystal-clear, as the larger creatures unfortunately seem to stir up more of a fog, frequently obscuring them.) Color is equally good, a fact that's especially appreciated when the octopus shows off its impressive camouflage color-changing. The best thing about the 3D is actually the smallest thing, as the bubbles and particles that float around the water really help sell the depth of the image, though the many planes in the schools or fish, the hide-and-go-seek behavior of fish in and around coral and anemone and the various creatures unafraid to head toward the camera are fun to watch as well. Sometimes, it looks so good that you'd think it was CGI. There are no noticeable issues with digital distractions to be found.
When watching a 3D movie, you kind of expect a blow-out audio presentation to complete the enveloping experience, but here all you get is a DTS Digital Surround 2.0 track. While it sounds nice, with clean dialogue that enjoys healthy weight and good separation from the bouncy score, atmospheric effects are in short supply, and with only two channels, there's no real opportunity to put you in the water with the fish through panning or directionality. There's nothing wrong with the mix, but it feels like the movie could use something more impressive.
Though the disc was announced as having interviews and a trailer, there are no extras included. That announcement also described the disc as two-sided though, and it is not.
The Bottom Line
Though a touch light on info and certainly short, Amazing Ocean 3D is a fun experience full of gorgeous underwater imagery that's aided by folksy narration and beautiful music. The disc holds no extras, and sports a simple soundtrack, but the 3D looks great, which is really why we're here. Do you need to own it? You probably won't get your money's worth unfortunately, but since it's not too easy to rent 3D blu-rays, if you want to enjoy the ride, a purchase is probably your only choice.