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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » IMAX: Galapagos
IMAX: Galapagos
Warner Bros. // Unrated // August 6, 2002
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted August 14, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Similar to the IMAX feature "Survival Island", "Galapagos" takes a look at the inhabitants of an island, although this one is in a decidedly warmer climate. As with some of the large-format features, "Galapagos" was presented theatrically in 3D and, while the smaller screen doesn't present the film with the towering size of the IMAX screen, the DVD thankfully doesn't show it that way, offering audiences a chance to more closely study the film's gorgeous cinematography without the heavy theatrical 3D glasses in the way.

The film takes place on and in the waters around the Galapagos Islands. Marine biologist Carole Baldwin is the leader of the journey, studying animals around the solidified lava flows on the island, then heading deep underwater. Eventually, Baldwin and company head deep underwater in an enormous submersible to travel 3,000 feet underwater on a mission to collect unusual life forms for study.

While "Galapagos" succeeds in being an enjoyable educational experience and a highly visual one, it also takes a while to get going. The lizards and turtles found upon the island are strangely uninteresting, but especially suffer in comparison to the creatures found in the underwater half, some of which I'd guess have never even been seen before - especially one little creature that looks like a floating pink ribbon. Kenneth Brannagh's narration is a little too formal - I'd expected narration from the actor to fit the film better than it does.

While not as successful an IMAX experience as "Survival Island", "Galapagos" still manages to reach expectations in terms of providing remarkable images and strong information. It's a little uneven, but still a fine effort.


The DVD

VIDEO: Warner Brothers presents "Galapagos" in 1.33:1 full-frame. Being the newest of the three recent IMAX releases from the studio, "Galapagos" looks the best of the group. The title boasts an attractive transfer that strongly reproduces the cinematography from the team of Kodak award-winner Reed Smoot ("China: The Panda Adventure", "Ultimate X"), Andrew Kitzanuk ("Super Speedway", "L5") and underwater cinematographer Al Giddings (James Cameron's "Abyss"). Sharpness and detail are often excellent, as the picture boasted superb depth and definition.

However, a few problems did appear. Edge enhancement and some minor shimmer were spotted, but they weren't as troubling as they were on "Survival Island". Pixelation was not spotted, nor were any dirt or scratches on the print used. The film's color palette is fairly subdued thanks to the location, but appeared natural and crisply reproduced.

SOUND: "Galapagos" is offered here in Dolby Digital 5.1. In comparison to some of the other aggressive IMAX soundtracks, the film's presentation is neither too subdued or as active. It's firmly halfway, with a decent amount of outdoor ambience and occasional surround use for sound effects or music. Audio quality was fine; some moderate bass was occasionally heard, while music, sound effects and narration were all crisp and clear.

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

EXTRAS: An IMAX trailer and short "making of" featurette.

Final Thoughts: "Galapagos" is an above-average IMAX effort; while the film boasts incredible scenery and interesting details, I felt it was a little slow in the first half and suffered from some other minor faults. Still, IMAX fans will likely find this an enjoyable viewing experience on Warner's fine DVD edition, which doesn't offer much in the way of supplements, but does have very good audio/video quality.

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