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Wonders Of The Arctic (Blu-ray Review)

Wonders-of-the-ArcticJoin 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.  Wonders of the Arctic centers on the ongoing mission to explore and come to terms with the Arctic, and the compelling stories of the many forays into this captivating world. Wonders of the Arctic offers a French language track, and special features include IMAX® trailers and a bonus video.

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Film 

The Arctic has always been a place of mystery, myth and fascination. The Inuit and their predecessors adapted and thrived for thousands of years in what is arguably the harshest environment on Earth. Today, the Arctic is the focus of intense research. Instead of seeking to conquer the north, scientist pioneers are searching for answers to some troubling questions about the impacts of human activities around the world on this fragile and largely uninhabited frontier.

Well, we’ve seen many a different environment in these IMAX short documentaries from Shout! Factory.  Its almost as if we are taking journeys to those new planets in a Star Wars film that represent one type of terrain for a whole globe.  This one would be our Hoth then, as we get to check out the chills and depths of the land of the snowy, icy arctic.

This one is primarily about the exploration and research to see what kind of effects the human involvement has had on this terrain and what further impacts it could have.  It shows all the creatures in the habitat as well as the “locals”.  There’s a respect given for the importance of keeping everything intact and a display of the complete beauty of it all.

I know I’ll mention this again in the specs, but the snow is really friggin’ cool to look at in this one.  There’s something about the way this captures the light hitting it and the differentiation in white coloring of the substance really kind of captured my glare.  And that’s kind of the whole point of these things.  They take moments in these to just play music, let Victor Garber have a drink of water and stretch and let us just gape at the awesome cinematography capturing nature.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  Wow, snow never looked so gorgeous.  This transfer allows you to really see texture that you just know what its like to the touch.  Also; WATER!  It amazes me how good water can look now from the dulldrom days of DVDs having massive compression issues any time a body of water showed up. Everything here in this transfer is of the highest order.

Depth:  Awesome 3 dimensional looking work during a lot of the boat sequences in the film as well as some nice underwater moments.  Great spacing and the smoothest of movements.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and inky. No real detail is lost at all and shading is done with good precision.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are bright and really full of whites and blues.  Many different shades/tints and versions of similar colors fade seamlessly into one another.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones that are visible (people are dressed for the cold here) look natural and very full in their looking.  You can make out skin textures, freckles, stubble and the like when able.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

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

Subtitles: English Closed Caption

Dynamics:  This is a track driven by score and a narration.  There are natural sounds in the mix, but those are kept lowered unless asks to come to the forefront.  What you get is a very delicate, layered and precise sounds that is crisp to the ears and natural to the feel.

Low Frequency Extension:  Most of the thump comes from smaller moments in the score.

Surround Sound Presentation:  There is a good environmental feel to this track.  All 7 channels capture the land, sea level and underwater sequences quite well with ambiance and motion.

Dialogue Reproduction: Victor Garber sounds lovely, crisp and clear.

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Extras 

The Wonders of the Arctic 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.

FEDNAV Corporate Video (HD, 2:27)

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Summary 

Wonders Of The Arctic takes us to a more wintery side of these beautifully shot IMAX releases that Shout! Factory has been putting out.  It all becomes a beautiful image in a gorgeous transfer to sit and marvel at.  If you’re picking this up, that better be all you want, because there are really no extras to dig through here at all.  Without the inclusion of the other formats, this is pretty much a bare bones release.

Wonders-of-the-Arctic-4K-UHD

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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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