Review by Leonard Norwitz
Theatrical: NASA & Graeme Ferguson
Blu-ray: Warner Home Video
(as verified by the
Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 13,006,584,580 bytes
Feature Size: 6,791,178,240 bytes
Video Bitrate: 18.10 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: July 31st, 2007
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: VC-1 Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3803 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3803
kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
/ Dolby Surround
• The Dream Is Alive – in HD (36:33)
Despite the title on the box this is really a double
feature, both filmed in IMAX and transferred to Blu-ray in
the early days of the medium. The "main" feature, Blue
Planet, examines our planet in orbital vistas that alternate
with supportive images from the ground. The narration wants
to support the one with the other, at times to show its
wonders, at other times to show the threats to those
wonders. The target audience is schoolchildren, though it
does not talk down to them. The images must assume they have
better eyesight than I, for there were instances where we
are expected to see how those pictures from orbit
demonstrate the points made (as in "from space you can
clearly see x") and I couldn't make it out.
The second feature, The Dream is Alive, was shot five years
earlier, in 1985, the year before the Challenger disaster.
Walter Cronkite narrates the efforts of NASA to put the
shuttle program in operation, and includes footage of one of
Challenger's nine missions.
captures were taken directly from the
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.
Not as sharp as they are dramatically impressive. While
color and contrast are excellent, the features suffer from
pervasive edge-enhancement (check out the crowd in Capture
#1). Blue Planet is marginally better in terms of
resolution, but both lack the kind of sharpness we'd expect
from high definition, let alone footage sourced from IMAX.
My screencaps include an equal number of frames from each
CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio & Music:
It's is telling that I came to this disc nearly three years
after its release since I used to complain that Warner came
on board so late with uncompressed audio. But here it is in
July of 2007, one of the first titles in the medium and it's
in Dolby TrueHD! Too bad we've had to suffer with so many
titles after that in garden variety Dolby Digital.
The narration is not as crisp as we would like for the main
feature; better for Cronkite. The music is insipid, but
serves to take up the silence in space. Contrived as the
audio mix is, it is also, on occasion, one hell of a dynamic
presentation: The rumbling of the rocket at take off will
shake your room good and proper. However, in Blue Planet we
hear applause in the surrounds from the crowd gathered some
distance from lift-off, but no one is clapping. It's
effective as long as you close your eyes. During the
lightning strikes in the storm sequence, which is one of the
most vivid recordings of a storm on video, the audio out of
sync with the lightning. (I wonder why they do that? After
Poltergeist doesn't everyone know that lightning and the
sound it makes do not occur at the same time unless you're
There's very little of concern here except for considering
The Dream is Alive as a Bonus Feature.
What's with the "Bonus Movie" idea in the first place? The
Dream is Alive is every bit a feature as Blue Planet. The
visuals, by comparison, are a mixed bag, but the film is, I
think, more dramatically compelling – all the more so in the
wake of the shuttle disasters that followed – the first,
only a year after this IMAX movie was made.
But there are no other bonus features.
Despite the IMAX pedigree, this title is not ready for prime
time as an image demo. The audio is spectacular at times.
April 2nd, 2010