Review by Leonard Norwitz
Theatrical: Brooks Lapping for Animal Planet (TV)
Blu-ray: Genius Products
Runtime: 43 min.
Size: 25 GB
Case: Locking Blu-ray case
Release date: April 7, 2009
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Video codec: AVC
English Dolby Digital 5.1; English Stereo 2.0
The Beauty of Snakes is one of two shows from Animal Planet
that I have on my plate for review this week (the other
being The World's Biggest and Baddest Bugs). Unlike the bug
piece, this one is narrated in voiceover from a respectful
distance. We don't find images of humans covered with snakes
to show off what we can do if we really put our minds to it.
There is some spectacular footage here of snakes doing what
they do best: shedding, hunting, lurking, slurking, posing,
poising, poisoning and swallowing. Even though some of the
scenes can be fairly graphic, others seem to be edited with
children in mind as the likely audience.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence
compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale.
The second number places this image along the full range of
DVD and Blu-ray discs.
Like other Discovery and Animal Planet Blu-ray entries so
far, this one is presented in 1080i, as would have been the
broadcast, regardless of the original source. This one
appears to be high def video, presented in widescreen
anamorphic 1.78:1 with bit rates in the mid 20s and with no
evidence of artifacts or enhancements. Perhaps because of
the photography of these incredibly colorful and awesome
creatures, which is more noticeable on freeze frame than in
motion. As you can see from the screen caps, this movie -
over before you know it - is filled with gorgeous pictures.
Audio & Music:
Aoife McMahon's narration is clear and engaging, as befits
the subject. She draws us into this world of creatures both
feared and revered. Environmental sounds are minimal, but
there is some nicely turned hissing and slithering, despite
the small scale. At times the music opened up the soundstage
for either mix. I found the 2.0 to have more focus. No
Loading is quick, as expected for a single-layer disc. The
Spartan and, frankly, not very attractively designed menu is
easy enough to use, but offers only the choice of 5.1 or 2.0
audio, and English subtitles on or off. There are episode
chapters, but no access to them from the menu. This is
particularly inexplicable considering how neatly the
chapters could have sorted themselves out (e.g., Birth,
Unlike the other Animal Planet Blu-ray disc under review
this week, (The World's Biggest and Baddest Bugs), The
Beauty of Snakes truly lives up to its title. I would have
liked a 1080p presentation, but even in 1080i, the image is
stunning, the actors mesmerizing and the information
fascinating, if not basic. By the way, do you think that
there's anything to it that they people involved in making
this movie are women?
April 1st, 2009