Ocean Men: Extreme Dive (Blu-ray Review)

squareComing from the library of films originally created for viewing in IMAX theaters, Ocean Men: Extreme Dive is the latest such film to arrive on Blu-ray. The lineage of IMAX films are always educating in their brief, but entertaining delivery. How does Ocean Men stack up against the rest?  This film will take you to unfathomable depths on a single breath, while introducing you to the men who set the benchmark in free diving.






This most recent release in a sizable library of IMAX films was originally shown in IMAX theaters in 2001.  The film focuses on two world record-setting free divers in Pipin Ferreras and Umberto Pelizzari.  What is free diving, you might ask?  It’s simple in concept, yet difficult (that’s an understatement) in reality.  Free diving is descending into the depths of the ocean on a single breath.  There is no tank of air, no oxygen hose, no anything to rely on.  It’s just you and a blue abyss.

Ferreras and Pelizzari, though different in their methods, share an affinity for becoming one with Mother Nature under the surface of the sea…I mean really deep under the surface.  Free diving is nothing new to humans.  People have been doing it for ages, but it’s Ferreras and Pelizzari that test the human body to its limits, reaching depths of over 500 feet.  The film isn’t specifically a vertical-only delivery.  There’s more than just descending and ascending to be had here.

For instance, in its 40-minute runtime, Ocean Men showcases a fair amount of symphonically-toured underwater scenes where our film’s subjects cruise the ocean floor or take part in some aquatic spelunking.  There is also a segment, albeit far too brief, where viewers get a look at the physiology of extreme free diving.  All in all, we get a Cliff Notes-version of the film’s subjects, free diving in motion and its anatomical effects.  For a forty-minute film, it’s not too bad though there are times when it feels like something is lacking.



Ocean Men portrays some stunningly beautiful underwater imagery.  The dancing reflection of an overhead sun is brilliantly captured here with only sparse moments of grain to speak of.  In all honesty, most of the grain is experienced early on in a cave diving scene where light is at a premium, so that is rather forgivable.  The 1080p resolution and MPEG-4 AVC encode combine for a very appeasing visual delivery in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  This disc is near reference quality video as it only minimally abstains from perfection.



The sound of Ocean Men is delivered in a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 format.  I was really expecting a tad more here out of the rear channels in hopes of a more environmentally immersing experience.  The musical overlay more than sufficiently compliments the underwater visuals and the narration is quite clear through the front speakers.  However, some rising bubbles or other distinct underwater sounds would’ve been welcomed from the speakers behind me.  It’s still an impressive audible display, especially from a documentary, but there is always room for improvement.



Well, here’s a let-down.  Ocean Men‘s special features amount to nothing more than 16 trailers for other IMAX films.  While I did appreciate the heads-up on what other IMAX films are other there, this is ultimately disappointing.  With only a  40-minute film, I’d expect room for plenty of spare footage of sea life and interviews with the free divers involved.  Instead, we get shameless self-promotion.



At the end of the day, I don’t think you’ll get too many multiple viewings out Ocean Men: Extreme Dive.  Don’t get me wrong.  This is almost as entertaining as it is educating, but other than referencing a scene or two, there may not be a whole lot of reasons to go back.  That is especially true when considering the disc’s content is over a decade old and who knows what records have been made or broken since Pelizzari and Ferreras made their deep sea accomplishments.  Ocean Men is definitely worth a viewing, though anything over $10 is a little steep for this documentary.



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