A companion piece of sorts to an earlier IMAX feature "The Dream Is Alive", "Blue Planet" takes a look at man's journey into space, but mainly focuses on our existence here - what the planet has been going through in its evolution up until this point and what has changed since we have become a bigger and bigger part of this world we live in.
Throughout the film, various ways that the world operates such as Hurricanes, glaciers, volcanoes, thunderstorms, asteroid impacts are explored as well as the damage that mankind has done with pollution and chemicals that continues as we become a more dominant force on this planet. The film does discuss what we have done to harm the planet and what we can do to help it, but never becomes too heavily preachy. Written, edited and narrated by Toni Meyers, the narration is the only element that I really didn't care for as much. Although the amount of narration was fine, Meyers' tends to have a rather soft, bland voice that became a bit too soothing as beautiful image after image passed by on-screen. In comparison, the narration for "The Dream Is Alive" by Walter Cronkite provided a bit more energy and emotion.
Either way, "Blue Planet" is another IMAX feast for the eyes and it also manages to deliver a fine message about how we must work together to protect the beauty that is the planet we live on.
VIDEO: "Blue Planet" is a few years older than "The Dream Is Alive" and thankfully, looks better overall than that previous IMAX feature. Sharpness and detail are closer to what I would expect from an IMAX feature; although there are a couple of minor scenes that looked a bit soft, the solid sense of depth and detail that I'm more used to from the large-format presentation is visible here.
Unlike "The Dream Is Alive", the image quality appeared cleaner and clearer - I didn't notice anything in the way of print flaws like marks, slight scratches or speckles, and there was only a few very minimal instances where the picture displayed some very slight grain. I didn't notice any instances of edge enhancement or pixelation.
Colors appeared rich and vibrant, especially the rain forest sequence towards the end of the picture, which displayed rich greens and other colors. The blues of the oceans looking down from space also appeared bold and vibrant. All-in-all, not the best I've seen an IMAX feature look, but still above average.
SOUND: "Blue Planet" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and shares many of the same characteristics in terms of audio with its sister film, "The Dream Is Alive". Some audio from ground crews and other announcers makes its way into the surrounds, but as this material doesn't call for as much in the way of voice surround use, this allows for a greater variety of effects making their way into the surrounds, from the score to weather to other ambient sounds. There's a quick glimpse of a baseball game that really provides a good example of how enveloping the IMAX sound presentations usually are - I practically felt like I was at that ballgame for a few seconds, from the crack of the bat to the cheering of the crowds. Most of the film makes very agressive use of the surrounds, similar to many other IMAX features, which always go for a heavily enveloping sound mix. Although not consistently present throughout the entire picture, there are some instances of strong low bass that are appropriate for some of the film's more intense sequences.
An interesting note: the film's sound designer and director is Ben Burtt, who has also done the sound design for "Star Wars" as well as the latest Star Wars films "Phantom Menace" and the upcoming "Episode II".
MENUS:: The menus are not animated, but some audio from the film plays behind the menu. It's unfortunate that there are no chapter stops durng the film.
EXTRAS: An IMAX promotional trailer.
Final Thoughts: "Blue Planet" is not one of my favorite IMAX programs, but it's certainly one of the better ones, with impressive photography and thrilling audio. The DVD is another very basic effort from Warner Brothers, but it's still worth a look.