H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Amazon [Blu-ray]


(Kieth Merrill, 1997)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: MacGillivray Freeman Films

Video: Image Entertainment



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 0:38:29.390

Disc Size: 15,256,500,368 bytes

Feature Size: 9,217,886,208 bytes

Average Bitrate: 31.93 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 5th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: VC-1 Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2539 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2539 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)






• MacGillvray Freeman Film History (7:37 in HD!)

'Film Trivia Quiz

• Trailers






Description: Explore the mysterious Amazon through this Academy Award-nominated film. Amazon celebrates the beauty, vitality and wonder of the rapidly disappearing rain forest. Filmmakers overcame many difficulties to photograph this rarely seen tropical landscape and present it with all the visual power associated with IMAX. Narrated by Academy Award-winning actress Linda Hunt, this unique collaboration between an American scientist and a tribal shaman on a mission to find rare medicinal plants will amaze and astound you.



The Film:

People who seek medicines from plants and animals in the Amazon share an apparently uncomplicated goal--the easing of human suffering. Yet this Omnimax movie gingerly avoids examining the ethics of intrusions--including moviemaking--on fragile environments as it parallels the journeys of a Peruvian shaman and an American ethnobotanist (the Smithsonian's Mark Plotkin, also a production consultant) who travel deep into the rain forest to fulfill personal and scientific goals. The movie contains as much semidramatic as documentary footage: the Zoe, indigenous people who've had very little contact with other populations, are shown in smoothly executed scenes that give every indication of having required their collaboration. More spontaneous are shots of rare species such as pink dolphins, whose casual, sinuous swimming makes most human movement seem grossly inelegant.

Excerpt of capsule by Lisa Alspector from the Chicago Reader located HERE



Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Brilliance of the image is indebted to the painstakingly procured cinematography that lends itself so well to this high-definition Blu-ray. I could fill this paragraph with superlative adjectives but the screen captures below should give you the best idea of how this will look on your system. It has shots that are nothing short of remarkable. Colors display the richness of the flora and fauna and black levels - especially at sunset - are pitch. Compression artifacts exists if you zoom in enough but for standard home theater usage I can't see it being that big for a problem. Technically it may appear lightweight with the 1080P 38-minute feature filling just over only 9 Gig and her lies my only complaint; why not put up to 5 of these IMAX features (albeit bare-bones) on one dual-layered Blu-ray? as opposed to just one. It seems the format is not being used to full advantage - and it looks strangely like a monetary concern. The distributor will undoubtedly get more from individual sales than one stacked Blu-ray disc. This would be my desire as a feature documentary slightly over 1/2 hour may seem extravagant for dollar value although we still give this a recommendation. I'll bet it looked amazing in an IMAX theater.
















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 2539 kbps is not overly tested for surround capabilities. Linda Hunt's narration is always clear and there are some background bird squawks, waterfalls, the occasional machete etc. that make there way around. Alan Williams' crisp score has some fitting music but seems mostly front speaker driven. There are no other audio options or DUBs and no subtitles at all. My Momitsu informs me this disc is region free and will play on Blu-rays machines worldwide.




Extras :

The MacGillvray Freeman Film History in HD for 8 minutes seems more of an advert but also has some highly impressive visuals excerpting many of these docu-genre exploratory films with some history on the pairing's beginning. It did get my psyched to discover other of these marvels in hi-def. I'd have to say the 'Quiz' is a dud and stinks of filler. There are a dozen trailers of similar films with a play-all option that run around 1/2 hour and these are again very enticing. Hopefully they will come out in a reasonably priced collection set (loved "The Living Sea" with Sting singing... "How fragile we are, how fragile we are...").



I'm a big sucker for these geo-nature documentaries and on Blu-ray this was such a beautiful and interesting experience. I love learning about this planet that we inhabit - watching stuff like this always makes me feel so uneducated and insignificant. It is also very entertaining and something I could easily show to friends. I learned quite a lot and ended up watching it twice through to catch information that I missed the first time because of the brilliance of the 'wowing' visuals. I'm a little perturbed by the price - at slightly less than a dollar for every 2 minutes it seems excessive. I honestly suspect though it is something you will give repeat viewings to - so the overall value may be suitable to those who get as much out of it as I did.  

Gary Tooze

April 22nd, 2009



About the Reviewer: 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 7500 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)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze








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