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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » IMAX: Survival Island
IMAX: Survival Island
Warner Bros. // Unrated // August 6, 2002
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted August 13, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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The Movie:

This 1996 IMAX offering is one of the most enjoyable of the large-format films I've had the pleasure to view lately. Not only does it focus upon a beautiful area, but it's full of animals both large and small that serve as interesting and entertaining characters.

The documentary takes place on South Georgia Island, a sub-Antarctic destination. The island, which is one of the few suitable breeding grounds for animals in the area, hosts half of the world's population of elephant seals, a couple million fur seals, hundreds of thousands of penguins (who stand around on the beach, making for what looks like the world's largest bird convention) and more.

The film is a marvel of editing and writing. Sir David Attenborough not only wrote the film, but also provided the narration. While "Survival Island" often does an outstanding job capturing the fascinating creatures living on the island, it's the wonderfully informative narration that really completes the experience. The viewer is told a great deal of information about each creature and often, it's experiences on South Georgia. The film also moves smoothly between subjects, providing a full look at a species before moving forward.

Overall, "Survival Island" is a prime example of the best of the large format; it dazzles the eyes and manages to educate the audience in fine, entertaining form.


The DVD

VIDEO: I was a little dismayed with Warner's 1.33:1 full-frame presentation of "Survival Island". The IMAX film's cinematography is nothing short of breathtaking, but it's negatively effected by some of the faults that appear throughout the transfer. Sharpness and detail vary throughout the presentation - close-ups and most other shots appear crisp and occasionally wonderfully well-defined. However, a few scenes here and there appear a bit softer in comparison.

While the faults with this transfer certainly don't ruin the viewing experience, they do take away from it. There are several scenes that show a rather annoying amount of shimmering and some mild edge enhancement is visible during a few instances, as well. No pixelation was spotted, but the print briefly showed a little dirt or wear.

On a positive note, colors were reproduced wonderfully. While the majority of the film has a subdued color palette thanks to the locations, little hints of brighter colors, such as on the penguins, stood out quite well. While definitely a watchable presentation, I would have liked the stunning visuals to have been free of the flaws that show up here.

SOUND: "Survival Island" provides the kind of IMAX soundtrack experience that I usually expect. The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation provides excellent use of the surrounds to provide convincing ambience and even a few sounds of the animals in the nearby area. With IMAX fare, the filmmakers not only have the ability to bring stunning, crystal clear images of places that most will never go, but they also can use sound well to convince the viewer that they've stepped into that place. "Survival Island" succeeds in visuals and sound, providing the complete experience.

MENUS: Basic, film-themed images serve as backgrounds.

EXTRAS: An IMAX trailer and a rather short, but informative "behind the scenes" featurette.

Final Thoughts: "Survival Island" is one of the best IMAX films I've seen recently, as it provides a beautifully filmed, entertaining and superbly educational view of the wealth of species who make this Island their home. Warner Brothers has provided a DVD that offers very good sound, but unfortunately, only average video quality. Recommended.

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