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Slingshot // Unrated // January 14, 2003
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by David Blair | posted February 19, 2003 | E-mail the Author

The Movie

The IMAX presentation, Seasons is an eloquent movie brought to us by the Oscar-winning documentary director Ben Shedd. Seasons effectively mixes poetry with striking visuals to give the viewer an enticing and mellow tour of our planet and the always changing seasons of the year.

There are three things that will jump out at you as soon as this movie starts. The first is the fantastic narration job by William Shatner. Now I admit I was afraid that Shatner would be a little over-the-top as a IMAX movie narrator, but I can honestly say that I was pleasantly surprised by his professionalism and his candor. Shatner's talking style is perfectly appropriate, and at no time did he ever try to upstage the dazzling visuals being shown on the screen. His voice was methodic, and caring, and added just the right hint of sophistication to this eye-enthralling film. The second thing that jumps out at you are the extraordinary images laid in front of your eyes. Seasons is probably the most visually pleasing IMAX film I've ever seen, with gorgeous shots of every walk of life, and every landscape imaginable. Also, the colors in this movie are nothing short of astonishing. In particular, the startling close-up of a single rose stands out as the epitome of color saturation and beauty. The last and perhaps most impressive item to grab your attention is the incredible soundtrack on this DVD release. Hearing the empowering music of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra play Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" is the perfect compliment to Shatner's dialogue and Shedd's knockout visuals.

Seasons often uses 3D graphics to explain the timeline of how our beliefs have slowly changed about the seasons over the last few thousand years. These graphics are a great tool to show how man's ignorance has evolved into what we believe today.

Seasons is a smart film that relies on it's dialogue, just as much as it does it's video. It presents the various aspects of our yearly seasons with simplicity and technological style, and as a result makes the viewer smarter in the process. I greatly enjoyed this movie, however one definitely needs to be in the right frame of mind to watch it. I fear many will ultimately be bored with the slow pacing and lack of action.


Video: Seasons is presented in 1.33:1 full screen. If you sit back from your TV screen, you will most likely have a pleasant experience watching this movie. However, if you venture up close, or have a large projection TV, then you'll probably be annoyed with the rather obvious video downfalls that are a direct result of the transfer's digital compression. This is easily seen in the background of most shots, and can stand out heavily in the light blue skylines that often fill the backdrop. But most people will probably not be too annoyed by this, as the object in focus tends to always look beautiful and is usually sprightly colorful. Of course the most positive attribute to this transfer is the color representation. The countless fly-bys of fields of flowers are stunning and full of rich, vibrant hues. And a time-lapse segment of sprout plants breaking through the soil is so green with life, you'll wonder if you should water your TV. Overall this is a less than desirable transfer, with amazing color.

Audio: I was quite shocked to find both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and a DTS audio track on this DVD. This is something you rarely find on an IMAX DVD. And although I generally feel a 5.1 track isn't fully necessary for these kinds of movies, I'm infinitely happy that I was wrong here. Both audio tracks offer crisp, strategic audio that tantalizes the senses, and immerses the viewer in the changing seasons. Sounds such as an owl screeching, ice crackling, and thundering horses racing by, add a lot to the surround experience. After toggling back and forth from the DD and DTS tracks, I found the DTS track to be slightly more dynamic and thought it had an edge in crispness as well. The only thing I found distracting about the audio tracks was an occasional "cutting out" that occurred every so often. But other than that, this is one superior sounding IMAX movie.

Extras: Seasons gives the viewer more special features than you might expect on an IMAX DVD.

The End of the World in Four Seasons: This is a bizarre cartoon that takes you through the four seasons, and shows you (I guess) the end of the world afterwards. I found this cartoon to be weird, slightly disturbing, and not entertaining in the least. But hey, I'm not complaining that they included it. The more the merrier. (12:19)

Falling Water: This is a brief tour of beautiful naturalistic locations taken from various national parks. It is nice to look at, and quite soothing, but it lacked excitement, and that ever wanted "awe factor." (7:30)

Seasons Trivia: Here you'll find trivia questions about the four seasons. If you paid attention during the movie, you should be able to answer almost all of these questions correctly.

Seasons Trailer: This is the trailer for the original IMAX movie.

Final Thoughts

Seasons is a sophisticated movie that truly puts the viewer at the foot of the four life-giving seasons of our planet. It is beautiful, and infinitely colorful, and the audio is generally superb, but a lackluster video transfer and sluggish pacing will probably drop this movie back down a little in most people's eyes. Recommended

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