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IMAX: Wild Ocean
Ocean life has always been something that interests me beyond all belief because there is so much of it that has yet to be explored. Millions of miles of the vast oceans have been checked out and dissected to the point that some people can traverse those areas like their very own home neighborhoods. There truly is no limit to what can be discovered in the shallow pools and deep trenches that take over more than seventy percent of the world. It is because of these pieces of information that so many are out there making movies and documentaries so that those of us who don't have the ability to explore can witness what they do. Wild Ocean is yet one more opportunity for us land-dwellers to experience visions and images we may never get to see in person.
This documentary leads viewers on a trip to the Kwazulu-Natal Wild Coast off of South Africa so that they may learn all about annual sardine migration through the rough and violent waters. It may sound like quite a simple and ordinary journey, but it is filled with numerous problems and countless predators that will steer them from their path or even force them never to make it at all. This area near South Africa is known to have more fish-searching predators then anywhere else in the world and it is simply because they know it is rich in food for them at many times (the sardines). One of the most amazing aspects of this sardine migration is seeing all the different predators seeking out to stop them as they make their trip. Sharks, birds, mammals, and even humpback whales get into the act as these gigantic groups of sardines hope to merely make it from point A to point B. Stunningly beautiful footage of the feeding frenzies for all these animals is shown which is what makes Wild Ocean beautiful yet quite tragic all at the same time.
All of the credit in this documentary needs to go to the cinematographers here because the images they capture are just amazing and it is what will get you completely immersed into a world of deep blue oceans and all the life they encompass. Shots from under the water, at the surface, and even from up in the air show the sardines traveling in what look to be huge shadows moving in perfect synchronization. After you get sucked in by their beauty; you will then be taken into a different world that watches the huge array of predators taking turns picking off the sardines millions at a time. Gulls and other birds dive bomb into the water as if they are heat-seeking missiles aimed at enemy boats in the water. Sharks go into super frenzies trying grab as many of them as they can in just one chomping gulp. Fisherman come along and cast their nets to capture thousands of them all at one time. From sheer beauty to turmoil in just a matter of a few minutes.
You may find it a little difficult at times to draw yourself away from the intense and gorgeous visuals before your eyes, but don't ignore the narration that will educate you on everything going on. It is informative of course, but it doesn't appear to be any sort of new knowledge that many of us may not already know or can't figure out just by watching the documentary itself. Don't get me wrong because it really is good, but it just doesn't seem to be nearly as in-depth as I was expecting from something that provided such vivid and awe-inspiring images for me to soak in. Things are still kept positive though as narrator John Kani shows that this everything happening during the sardine migration isn't a horrible occurrence, but a way of life. All that is shown and displayed before us all is the circle of life and it is how the wild truly acts when we aren't looking. Only now we're given the chance.
If there is one complaint to be found with Wild Ocean, it comes not while watching it but after you're finished. The documentary is just far too short at a little over forty minutes leaving me wanting for more. This is not one of those situations where "it's over before it gets started" because you'll get fully involved and sucked into all that is going on and see it taken out right from in front of you. Wild Ocean could have added another forty-five minutes, an hour, or even ninety more minutes and my eyes would have been glued to the screen no question.
The 16x9 video transfer of Wild Ocean is a sight only thought to be imagined. Every single color shows through beautifully with the bright blue of the water, the lush green landscapes in the background, and the multiple colors of all the animals coming through without a single problem. IMAX is truly the perfect choice of shooting for this documentary and if it is this beautiful on DVD then one can only believe the Blu-ray is even more gorgeous.
See for yourself by way of Ian Jane's Blu-ray review of Wild Ocean.
Wild Ocean has a few options with which to hear the beautiful score and narration including Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound in English, Spanish, and Dolby. There is also an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Sound option, but there is no real need to even bother with that one. The surround sound is truly what you're going to want and it is fantastic. Your main focus here will be the sounds of the environment and of the animals because the surround sound honestly gives you the feeling of being right there in the midst of it all. Kani's narration is good, but it could have been a little louder because he just sometimes gets drowned out due to the audible beauty filling the rest of the disc.
There are no subtitles available.
Behind The Scenes - Focusing on the underwater photography, this featurette gives a good look at the divers/cameramen and all that went into the difficult procedures. (8:39)
Interview With The Directors - Creators/directors Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas were at one point on Broadway and helming Stomp, but have moved across the world both in film and literally. One of the great things about this featurette is that they have in-depth discussions about their filming methods whether it is under the water, out in the middle of the ocean, and also in IMAX. It's truly a fantastic interview that could have been a lot longer and I wouldn't have minded at all. (15:56)
Wild Ocean Quiz and Fun Facts - A fun little multiple choice quiz that can be taken alone or with friends or even against them after you finish watching the documentary.
Recording Wild Ocean - Follow along with composer Dominic Nuns and his entire orchestra as they record the fantastic musical score that the documentary is set to.
Kwazulu Natal During The Run - An interesting featurette in that we get to see exactly how the local people react to and take advantage of the sardine run when it happens. Well worth checking out. (6:31)
Shooting Wild Ocean - A gallery of still images set to Nuns' score. Even though it is merely pictures set to music; this is one of my favorite features on the entire disc. It's quite mesmerizing to sit there and look at these gorgeous stills while the beautiful music plays, and chances are you may just put it on repeat. (7:13)
Who, What, & Where - A collection of text screens giving information on everything involved with the documentary including locations, filmmakers, and what exactly is going on in a bit more detail.
Trailer and Original Trailer
Trailers - Pulse, Ride Around The World, Mummies: Secrets of the Past, and Dinosaurs Alive!
Wild Ocean is a fantastic look at a side of nature that we don't often get to see because there aren't many of us heading over to South Africa to watch the sardine runs. While it may sound like an odd and uninteresting topic just by word; I assure you it is not. You are presented with a beautiful look at the mastery that is nature on a DVD complete with a few tremendous special features that will almost force you to watch every single second. My only complaint is that the documentary itself is so short because my feelings would not have been hurt with another hour or two. Highly Recommended
Danny lives in New Orleans with his dog and writes plenty in way of movies, sports, and life over at Examiner, IP Movies, and Associated Content. If you're looking to keep up with all he does though, there's always Twitter or Facebook.