DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

IMAX Under the Sea, Blu-ray 3D (2010)

Perhaps the best of the many undersea 3D featurettes.

Published on March 5, 2013

IMAX Under the Sea, Blu-ray 3D (2010)

Director: Howard Hall
Narrator: Jim Carey
Studio: Warner Brothers/IMAX
Video:  1.77:1 for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1; DTS-HD Master Audio
Regions: Region free
Length: 41 minutes 
Rating: ***

This 3D IMAX film has been around on Blu-ray since 2010, and it’s high time we took a look at it. The film is a beautifully shot look at life around the Great Barrier Reef and other locations in the South Pacific. As someone who spent some time scuba diving when I got out of college, I can say this film captures the experience without having to don mask, flippers and tanks.

Underwater photography has always been fascinating to the studios and the public. The first large scale 3D footage was done for The Creature from the Black Lagoon, just recently restored and released on a 3D Blu-ray. Now, the market is almost choking with underwater 3D content. IMAX has another 3D underwater feature, Deep Sea 3D, and just lately we have 3D disks all dealing with similar subjects, like Amazing Ocean 3D, Fascination Coral Reef 3D, Adventure Coral Reef 3D and some others I’ve forgotten.

In terms of video, Under the Sea 3D is the best I’ve seen, but when you get past the video things begin to fall apart. Undersea documentaries have fallen into a predictable pattern, highlighting the “cute” and the “dangerous”. Then there is a tendency to anthropomorphize the creatures, which I think is scientifically suspect. Of course Under The Sea 3D was meant as mass market entertainment, and it probably fills that need if you aren’t interested in learning a lot. I viewed the film on my Epson 3010 projector throwing an 85” image and the results were visually stunning. The surround audio was certainly good, although the music score was just a cut above elevator music and seemed to be lacking any theme. Ominous music for predators. Cartoon type music for lighter moments.

Under the Sea 3D is demonstration quality video, and I only saw a hint of ghosting during the opening credits. If I could only choose one 3D underwater film, this would probably be the one. Memorable 3D scenes are the sea snakes, and the Potato Cod that seems to push its way into the room beyond the screen. Even debris floating in the water adds depth to the presentation.  On the other hand, this is only a 41 minute film at $35 dollars; a pretty steep toll with many 3D feature films selling for much less.

—Mel Martin




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