DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Grand Canyon Adventure, IMAX Blu-ray (2009)

The film’s purpose is to use the Colorado River and Grand Canyon to point up the serious and growing water shortage worldwide.

Published on March 17, 2009

Grand Canyon Adventure, IMAX Blu-ray (2009)
Grand Canyon Adventure, IMAX Blu-ray (2009)

A MacGillivray Freeman film
Narrator:  Robert Redford
Songs & Music: Dave Matthews Band

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video: 1.78:1 reduced from IMAX format for 16:9 1080pHD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French DD 5.1, DD 2.0
Extras: “Making Of” featurette, Retrospective in MacGillivray Freeman Films, Trivia Quiz, Learn about Water, the Colorado & Grand Canyon, Trailers, BD Live
Length: Feature: 45 mins.   Making Of: 34 mins.
Rating: *****

Another spectacular presentation from IMAX, which retains on Blu-ray a good part of the super-hi-res imaging and exciting visuals of the special theatrical showings. Like some of the other IMAX documentaries, this is not just a scenic tour of the Grand Canyon.  The film’s purpose is to use the Colorado River and Grand Canyon to point up the serious and growing water shortage worldwide.

The film follows naturalist and author Wade Davis and his young daughter, shooting the rapids and photographing some of the same exact spots photographed in 3D in the mid-19th century by the first white man to go down the length of the river. One of the shots doesn’t even need to be matched to the original, because on the shores of Lake Powell one can clearly see high white areas on the cliffs which used to be where the water was.  Other figures in the film stressing the worldwide water crisis are Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the first native American national park ranger and river guide.  There are three parents and their daughters on the Canyon journey.

While there are the usual striking shots of the Canyon and the white water rafting experience, the main thrust here is to communicate that the worldwide drought is really massive.  As one of the experts states of the Canyon, “the river that flows thru it is in trouble.”  The 3D connection goes even further – this was shot as a 3D IMAX presentation, using a giant 300 lb. million-dollar 3D camera that is even bigger than the 2D IMAX camera.  (Hopefully there will be a 3D version on Blu-ray eventually when Dolby or another technology becomes the standard for home 3D viewing.) Considering everything had to be packed into the canyon and the shooting took place in conditions of dirt, dust and water, the achievement with the cinematography is remarkable.  They even risked mounting the camera directly behind one of the rafts shooting the rapids.  The Making Of featurette lays out the challenges and preparations that went into production of the film. The hi-res surround track – especially during the rapids scenes – is of demonstration quality.

 - John Sunier




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