H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze


Introduction: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 5600 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:
Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)
Harmon Cardon DD/DTS receiver
Ascent (main) + Boston Acoustics (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze








National Geographic - Relentless Enemies [Blu-ray DVD]


Warner  (USA)
Review by Gary W. Tooze

1.78:1 1080p
Audio: English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Subtitles: English, none
Extras: Cheetah Chase (27 minutes in 4:3)
Released: March 27th, 2007
Blu-ray case
30 chapters

Product Description:

It is a spectacle few have seen firsthand. Two foes trapped on an island in a remote part of Africa - and a battle to survive captured in high-definition over two years by award-winning filmmakers. Now, National Geographic takes viewers onto a unique battlefield in the Okavango Delta to witness the grueling fight for survival of highly specialized lions that prey almost exclusively on buffalo in Relentless Enemies.


I couldn't describe this documentary better than National Geographic does:

'The great lions of the Tsaro pride are larger, more fearsome and more innovative than your typical lion. These enormous lions have thick necks and heavy chests built to wade through water and hunt places big cats normally avoid. Trapped on an island with these giant killers are thousands of buffalo who are forced to devise defensive tactics and eventually learn to fight back. See the battle unfold from a unique perspective as National Geographic Channel tracks the movements from the air and up close

The rich surroundings and unique environment of the Okavango River Delta have morphed the Tsaro lions into huge, thick-necked beasts. Far more aggressive and dangerous than their cousins on the Serengeti, these lions defy what we thought we knew about big cats. Normally lazy males attack viciously as lionesses wade through water for a better angle on their prey.

But the buffalo are no sitting ducks. As prisoners on an island only five years old, they've developed their own strategies for survival. Relentless Enemies takes you deep into the action as a wall of angry buffalo thwarts a lion attack. Filmed in High Definition, Relentless Enemies watches from the air as competing strategies for attack and defense unfold. Then, get up close as cubs go missing, competitive prides encroach on Tsaro territory and the future of the pride hangs in the balance.

See how the Tsaro lions survive hyenas, internal battles and dangerous prey to become larger and stronger than ever. Could this be the latest evolutionary step of the species? See for yourself as the pack fights for ultimate supremacy on Relentless Enemies.'


In my opinion this is the best hi-def image I have seen so far - for reference; I only own maybe 30 HD and 20 Blu-ray DVDs at present. Not a lot and I'll wager that I'll eventually see its equal or better but as its stands this looks truly incredible. Colors are bright and vibrant while detail is pristine.

It has some flaws - there are grainy sequences with some minor digital noise (in sky vistas and water) but the majority of the cinematography and transfer quality are breathtaking - as real as I have ever seen through this medium. I don't think this covers anywhere nears the ground as the 9 hour Planet Earth but for a short documentary (1.5 hours) it is brilliant and captivating - I've watched it 5 times since obtaining less than a week ago. It is my new reference DVD and no one I have shown it too has asked me to stop the presentation. They sit, as I did, transfixed listening to Jeremy Irons excellent narration and some magnificent nature visuals of a waging battle between two factions striving to survive. Seeing the water buffalo actually gain an advantage by banding together and weighing the odds in their own favor is absolutely amazing. There are 3 prides of lions and one buffalo heard on this island and the buffalo population is growing while the lions are diminishing. In a word; fascinating.

I *think* this is the first National Geographic hi-def DVD and I can't wait for more and some IMAX stuff as well. This DVD is one of the many reasons to indulge in the new formats although I should note that this is available in HD also but I have heard a lot of reports of it not playing on the Toshiba H2. The HD may be flawed but this Blu-ray is a keeper.


Screen Captures











Audio: Narration is Jeremy Irons and he does a good job. The 5.1 is pure and presents a clear and consistent narration with a bit of separation for some lion roars etc. .

Optional English subtitles in a white font support the narration. NOTE: they are not available through the pop-up menu but exist and can be accessed in the same way as SD DVDs.

Extras: There is a 27 minute documentary 4:3 featurette entitled 'Cheetah Chase' about a research team getting close to a cheetah. The image quality in that is also excellent.


BOTTOM LINE: I loved watching this (all 5 times!) and I really get a kick out of showing it to friends and family. It's a great DVD as far as I am concerned and I don't think you have to love nature shows to appreciate it. I strongly recommend! The image is almost scary in its clarity.



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