Ocean Predators 3D
Universal // Unrated // $26.98 // November 12, 2013
Review by Tyler Foster | posted November 7, 2013
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Graphical Version
"Ocean Predators 3D" takes a dive into the ocean for a countdown of some of the sea's most dangerous predators, from the moray eel all the way up to the great white shark. Directed by 3D veterans Benjamin Eicher and Timo Joh. Mayer, this documentary, shot in 3D, is very informative and should provide plenty of entertainment for audiences young and old interested in underwater animals, or nature in general.

Unlike "Fascination Coral Reef 3D: Hunters and the Hunted", "Ocean Predators" has a strong structure that makes this hour-long documentary an easy watch. One by one, Eicher and Mayer study ten or so deadly creatures individually, thoroughly and concisely exploring a subject before moving onto the next one. Although the documentary is far from comprehensive, hardly scratching the surface of sea killers, this film skews far more educational than observational, giving the film a consistent pace.

Each animal studied gets its own infographic, a technique which will clarify ideas for younger viewers who want to enjoy "Ocean Predators." These 3D cartoon diagrams are extremely simple, but provide a number of facts about each creature that are more easily illustrated than explained. Voice-over narration is constant and straightforward, in more of a tour guide format rather than the "artistic" narration of shows like "North America". Some viewers will no doubt find this style dry, but to this critic, it's the preferable approach, keeping the documentary on track and on topic (the one area of drift comes at the end, when the documentary briefly, but not obnoxiously, turns into a plea for conservationism and a ban on certain types of poaching).

Of course, the real core of Eicher and Mayer's film is the documentary footage itself, and "Ocean Predators" is blessed with plenty of great and involving footage that lends itself to 3D. Although the film, like "Hunters and the Hunted", is oddly light on predators actually going in for the kill (possibly to ensure the film is appropriate for all ages), there's no shortage of wonderful examples of the sea life interacting. Footage of the whale shark, for instance, is incredibly gorgeous, allowing the viewer to get a real grasp of the scale of the creature. Eicher and Mayer move through numerous schools of fish, giving the image a lovely sense of depth, and making the ocean feel like a full and crowded environment to explore. Well worth a look for those with an interest in undersea life, especially if they're looking to test out their 3DTV at the same time.

The Blu-Ray
"Ocean Predators 3D" also has an advantage over "Hunters and the Hunted" in the cover art department, stepping back a little from the chintzy fonts that are so often used on the covers of these nature documentaries. The art itself is pretty straightforward, placing a shark front and center, with the back cover highlighting a couple of other creatures, like the barracuda and the moray eel. The single-disc release comes in a non-eco Blu-Ray case, with an insert advertising other Universal 3D titles, and a glossy, non-embossed slipcover featuring identical artwork on the front, and "simplified" artwork on the back.

The Video and Audio
The packaging for "Ocean Predators 3D" clearly boasts that this 1.78:1 1080p 3D presentation was shot in 3D, and it looks very nice. Although depth is not always aggressive, as in some post-converted titles, the image is much more pleasing to look at, with a more gradual perspective going back into the frame. Eicher and Mayer's angles highlight the 3D effect nicely, always finding some other creatures or land formations to provide a sense of scale for their creatures. The disc also offers the ability to play the film in 2D.

Taking a cue from the lack of surround activity in the footage, "Ocean Predators" is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, which has no trouble handling the pleasing original score by Nasouh Hichri and the authoritative voice of narrator Glen McCready. The disc also offers a mountain of audio and subtitle options: French, German, Italian, Castilian Spanish, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Hungarian, Latin American Spanish, Polish, Russian, and French Canadian DTS, and English SDH, French, German, Italian, Castilian Spanish, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Latin American Spanish, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Thai, Traditional Mandarin, Turkish, and French Canadian subtitles.

The Extras
None, not even the music-only option available on Universal's other two concurrent 3D nature docs.

After watching "Hunters and the Hunted", I was concerned this would be a bore, especially considering it covers the same subject. Instead, this is a better documentary all around, easily catching and holding my attention thanks to a stronger directorial focus. Recommended.

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