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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

The World's Biggest and Baddest Bugs [Blu-ray]


(Peter Hayden, 2004)






Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: Natural History New Zealand for Animal Planet (TV)

Blu-ray: Genius Products



Region: All

Runtime: 87 min.

Chapters: 11

Size: 25 GB

Case: Locking Blu-ray case

Release date: April 7, 2009



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080i

Video codec: AVC



English Dolby Digital 5.1; English Stereo 2.0



English SDH



The Film: 5
Bugman Ruud Kleinpaste hosts this entomological odyssey into some of our planet's best habitats for bugs, insects and spiders. Ruud "Throw another bug on the Barbie" Kleinpaste is entertaining for young children, definitely his target audience. (I found his excitement a bit too frantic for my sensibilities.) The 87-minute program is divided into11 episodes (not that the menu gives any indication) for easier digestion of the material. I can't say that I found the promise of the title to be borne out in the telling or showing. But what do I know! Maybe these mantises, killer bees, and dragonflies are the biggest and the baddest little buggers that ever there was – but they all looked pretty tame to me. Maybe I've just seen too many sci-fi movies. I mean, Starship Troopers it's not.



Image: 6/8
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 low 30s. Like most 1080i material there is something about it that doesn't quite gel, especially when you freeze frame. But even on the fly, the image is often contrasty and of variable clarity and color saturation – the shot of killer bees massing all over Ruud face is simply a mess, with very little definition to speak of. On the other hand, there appear to be no artifacts or attempts to make the image something it's not. Some bugs are interesting to look at, some not.












Audio & Music: 6/6
Ruud's voice is clear and crisp, as he seems to enjoy his down-under dialect as much as I do listening to it. Environmental sounds are minimal, since the scale is so small. I found the 2.0 mix to have more focus. No surprise there.




Operations: 1
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 an especially grievous omission for this disc considering its audience would likely want to take its hour and a half length in small doses.


Extras: 0



Bottom line: 5
Some interesting facts about little creatures told by the adventuresome and enthusiastic Ruud Kleinpaste. The image is OK considering it's 1080i, but I found it not a program I would want to watch more than once. I'd say: rent it.

Leonard Norwitz
April 1st, 2009







About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.

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