Monday, October 25, 2010

Dinosaurs Alive! 3D Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 22.1 GB
Film Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: Nov 2nd, 2010 (Amazon.com exclusive until 12/7/10)
Region: A
The Video
Dinosaurs Alive!’ debuts on Blu-ray 3D with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The Blu-ray release features both the 3D and 2D versions of the film. Please note that the 3D version requires a 3D compatible home theater setup, the 2D version plays fine on any regular Blu-ray player and television however.

‘Dinosaurs Alive!’ previously released on the Blu-ray format with a 1080p VC-1 video presentation. I can’t say whether there is an improvement in the Blu-ray 3D 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation for 2D viewers, but the 3D version certainly impresses.

I viewed the film entirely in 3D, but also made sure to revisit many scenes in the film via the 2D option. The CGI effects featured in the documentary tend to vary in how impressive they are, but I was mostly quite impressed by the level of detail that went into the dinosaurs.

Certain dinosaurs are softer in appearance than others, but this is not a technical issue. It is incredible to see the level of detail found in the environments which were filmed for IMAX 3D. Not every moment was visually astounding when it came to effects, but I was way more pleased than disappointed.

The 3D effects in the film are a mix in style. At times the feature relies more on 3D depth rather than 3D effects flying out of the screen, that being said, there are occasional moments where visual effects are created for the intention of giving the pop-out effect.

The 3D pop is actually quite impressive on this release and was visually stunning throughout. Watching the 2D version I found that black levels in general could have been inkier, but they are quite solid throughout. I have seen the original release on Blu-ray, and the new transfer appears brighter (perhaps altered to avoid ‘darkness’ on the Blu-ray 3D version).

I do think the brighter look affects the level of detail on screen, as certain moments did look like they could have been notably sharper. There is some banding present throughout, but it bugged me more when viewing the 2D version. Dirt and specks are there on occasion, but I am quite sure they were there on the last release as well.

Overall I was very pleased by both the 3D and 2D versions of the film. I certainly prefer the 3D version however, it even added to the overall film value to me than the standard 2D version does. The 3D version has a nice level of depth throughout which adds to the visual experience significantly. 8/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track are included. Like many documentary releases, no subtitle options are included.

Talk about fantastic (some would say overkill), Image Entertainment has included three lossless audio mixes in three different languages. The English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is the language track I went with and for a documentary the audio is quite great.

The IMAX film is narrated by Michael Douglas, his vocals come thoroughly clearly through the front center speaker at all times. The film as a whole is more front heavy than immersive, but the surround use does pick up during dinosaur moments throughout.

Overall the mix gets the job done nicely. The quality is impressive throughout; the material itself just doesn’t call for major surround use at all times. I am very happy with the quality of the lossless mixes included. 8/10.

The Extras

2D Version of the Film (HD)
Some would not consider this a bonus, but there are future Blu-ray 3D releases from other companies which will include only the 3D version of the film on Blu-ray disc. This is nice for those who want both options in one release.

Making Of (26:42) (HD)
Go behind-the-scenes of how they shot the film with the 3D camera for IMAX 3D.

Meet the Creatures (HD)
Protoceratops
Seismosaurus
Pterosaurs
Tarchia
Tarbosaurus
Oviraptor
Velociraptor
Confuciousornis
Coelophysis
Effigia
Redondasaurus
Postosuchus

Trailers (HD)
Wild Ocean
Wild Ocean 3D
Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs
Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs 3D
Ride Around the World
Dinosaurs Alive!

BD-Live Portal (BD-Live Connection Required)
There is currently no available content, but the release has yet to retail at the time of writing.

Overall there aren’t many extras to be found on this release. There is an extra missing from the previous release; a dinosaur quiz consisting of ten questions, which I have to say won’t be missed. The making of is very entertaining and neat to see, definitely the best feature included. The 2D version of the film is also appreciated, something I hope the studio continues to include. For a documentary film, the extras aren’t bad at all; I just wish there were more. 6/10.

The IMAX Movie
Dinosaurs Alive!’ is a documentary film created for exhibition at IMAX theaters in 2007. I never saw the film in an IMAX theater, but I remember watching the original Blu-ray release when it released last year on the format.

To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of the film when I watched it on Blu-ray. The film was short (as expected), but felt rather dull considering the title ‘Dinosaurs Alive!’ The film does include some more exciting moments with CGI special effects, but plenty of scenes consisted of fossil exhibitions and paleontologists exploring. The CGI scenes also were clearly made for 3D, which could not be experienced on the previous Blu-ray release.

I knew the film was released in 3D so perhaps that is why I found the original release so dull in comparison. Watching the film for the first time in 3D on Blu-ray 3D was a treat however and I enjoyed the film much more than I did originally.

The film’s 3D effects add excitement to the release, with visual effects that were created for 3D finally feeling full of life rather than lifeless. The scenes which consisted of fossil exhibitions and paleontologist scenes feature great depth as well, really immersing you into the film much more.

I wouldn’t say the documentary is great by any means, but it is definitely meant to be seen in 3D. Those who enjoyed it in 2D will find much more enjoyment of the 3D release, it was made for 3D and shines on Blu-ray 3D. Compared to other IMAX films it may not be as impressive of a documentary, but I certainly enjoyed it on Blu-ray 3D. 7.5/10.

The Blu-news Summary
‘Dinosaurs Alive!’ is a solid documentary film which benefits from a Blu-ray 3D release. The video and audio presentations are good and the extras are pleasing. Overall the Blu-ray release is definitely ‘Recommended’ to those with a Blu-ray 3D setup.

Additional Screenshots:

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