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The Last Reef: Cities Beneath The Sea (Blu-ray Review)

Last ReefJoin Shout! Factory in appreciating the world’s oceans and the wonders within when the stunning Giant Screen films The Last Reef: Cities Beneath The Sea and Wonders of the Arctic come to the home entertainment marketplace on September 13. Originally seen in theaters, they will now each be available in a 4K UHD + 3D Blu-ray + Blu-ray + Digital Copy set, as well as a Blu-ray + Digital Copy set.  New underwater 3D technology takes us into the heart of the reef, revealing a habitat more diverse and more colorful than you ever imagined. Special features on The Last Reef: Cities Beneath The Sea include trailers, a photo gallery, and behind-the-scenes videos, and the film offers French and Spanish language tracks. Beneath The Sea include trailers, a photo gallery, and behind-the-scenes videos, and the film offers French and Spanish language tracks.

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Film 

Shot on location in Palau, Vancouver Island, French Polynesia, Mexico, and The Bahamas, The Last Reef takes us on a global journey to explore our connection with the ocean’s complex, parallel worlds. Fly across iridescent tropical reefs. Brush through a cloud of countless jellyfish. Visit an alien world where the closer you look, the more you see. We think of reefs as exotic, distant places with little connection to our everyday world. Yet each of them is a hotspot of biodiversity, as vital to life on earth as the rainforests. Just as the Amazon has its secrets, so too do the reefs.

From the snow to the sea, September is covering some ground on these IMAX documentaries that we have not really focused on.  While Wonders of the Arctic did take us underwater, this one REALLY takes us there.  This one has a stunning and I mean stunning look to it.  Not only is the water shot here some clean and clear, but the amount of color work revealed is marvelous.  Its a nice symphony of different shapes, species, terrain and all everything in this deep sea adventure.

Its not limited to just underwater.  Sometimes we go above ground and this thing continues to stun in its imagery.  There is a sequence of a time lapsed city at night with fast moving cars and lights and its mesmerizing.  Shots of a tropical island also look wowing and almost reminded me of the fake places used for terrain in the old Mario Kart game.  You have to, but you won’t believe your eyes at a lot of the undersea and tropical candy they are being treated to throughout.

On top of the breathtaking presentation, we are also taught the dangers of the disappearing or destroyed reefs by man’s hand.  This film pleads the importance of these reefs and the need to keep them preserved and intact.  It does so by showing its place in its rightful underwater kingdom and relation to the sea mammals with which is shares the ocean’s bed.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  Man, I mentioned this was breathtaking, but it may take the crown among these gorgeous IMAX 4K movies.  The water above and under the surface looks perfect.  Seeing all the variations of sea mammals and coral is just astounding and a complete marvel.  Couple this with a sharp and crisp picture, it looks like you’re looking at this stuff at the aquarium.

Depth:  Really terrific 3-dimensional work, even in 2-D here.  Spacing is apparent and distance made clear.  Good relative background clarity with smooth, natural movement.

Black Levels:  Shading is really good and there is some groovy dark work going on under the sea.  In some nighttime above ground/city shots, the darkness looks perfected with no real loss of detail that isn’t expected showing on.

Color Reproduction:  Underwater has an expected blue look, but many color pop and stand out underwater on fish and coral.  Its incredibly beautiful to sink in.  Above ground is very vibrant and tropical in appearance. You get a real feel for the weather and air with this transfer.

Flesh Tones: From what we’re given, the skin tones are natural and consistent throughout the duration of this short film.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English Closed Caption

Dynamics: Another crystal clean and clear track.  This 7.1 track makes use of all the channels to help immerse one under the sea.  Being that its underwater for the the majority of this thing, there’s not much to talk about in terms of how impactful the sound is in your viewing.  But, on the plus side, I can’t really find anything negative to say about it either.

Low Frequency Extension:  The subwoofer is primarily used for some moments in the score with few supporting turns to help the water.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Great ambiance from all channels involved.  Movements are clear and present as well as placement in all channels.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Narration is splendid. Its drives the track and is crisp and clean.

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Extras 

The Last Reef: Cities Beneath The Sea Blu-ray is part of the 4K UHD set that also includes a 3-D Blu-ray presentation as well as a digital copy of the film.

Behind The Scenes (HD, 16:51) – “Ocean Acidification”, “Filming In Bimini”, “Editing and Scoring”, “Jellyfish Lake”, “Macro Filming In Palau”, “Reef and the City”, “Statues Under The Sea”

Picture Gallery (HD, 2:25) 

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Summary 

From the snow to the sea, the IMAX September releases shine on new terrain and places in our wilderness to preserve.  This one has stunning audio and picture quality which screams DEMO DEMO DEMO.  It also has some nifty making off supplemental material on here with some more stunning photography.  Definitely for those home theater junkies that like to show off their stuff…this is for you!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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