IMAX films, in my opinion, can still vary very greatly. I've seen some magnificent IMAX features such as Stephen Low's "Beavers" or some of director/producer Greg MacGillivray's movies. I've also seen some IMAX films where I can hardly imagine that someone thought they would be worth putting into theaters, such as the recent "T-Rex".Greg MacGillivray has brought audiences some wonderful IMAX movies, whether as a producer or director, and "Dolphins" is another example of just how this format can provide the viewer with an outstanding viewing experience, entertainment, and education about the world around us.
In "Dolphins", we learn about the creatures and their world, and even further details about the way that they communicate that I've never heard before, such as how they can track food under sand at the bottom of the ocean. Through interviews and narration with specialists (James Bond...er, Pierce Brosnan provides the primary narration for the movie), we are introduced to the ways that dolphins communicate and live, and the dangers they face.
The movie manages to be a big, gorgeous film, and yet personal as well where some IMAX films can look beautiful but forget to involve the audience. With Brosnan's strong narration and Sting's enjoyable music, "Dolphins" really takes a place near the top of my list of favorite films in the IMAX format.
VIDEO: Although there are a couple of very slight problems, like other IMAX films from Image Entertainment, the beauty of the IMAX photography comes through so strongly that flaws seem almost non-existent. Sharpness and detail, as with most Image presentations, is excellent with few exceptions, and the few scenes that seem slightly soft are still pleasing.
Light shimmer appears a couple of times throughout the presentation, but doesn't prove to be a distraction. The print used seems very clean and clear, with no marks or scratches that I saw throughout the movie. There are a few scenes in the movie that look a bit "edgy", but the outdoor sequences capturing the Dolphins in their gorgeous environments have no problems whatsoever.
Colors are absolutely outstanding, with the rich blues of the sea and sky presented wonderfully, with no flaws at all. Colors are beautifully bold, well-saturated and problem-free. Aside from a few minor bumps, this is a remarkable presentation that preserves the beauty of the IMAX photography. As with other IMAX presentations on video, they are presented full-frame.
SOUND: Image Entertainment has thankfully given viewers the choice of DTS or Dolby Digital audio presentations for this (and also for their other recent IMAX pictures). The one element that really is remarkable on this film's audio is Sting's fantastic score, which sounds particularly beautiful on the DTS soundtrack. The DTS soundtrack offers some subtle improvements; it sounds warmer and fuller than the Dolby version with improved clarity; the sound comes together more seamlessly to create the experience than on the Dolby version.
Although this is not the most agressive IMAX soundtrack I've experienced, it is a still a pleasingly active film in terms of audio, with Sting's score filling the listening space very well. This is, overall, a very pleasing soundtrack that doesn't miss any opportunities with the kind of material it explores.
MENUS:: Enjoyable main and sub-menus that feature music in the background as well as some short clips between the main and sub-menus.
The Making Of "Dolphins": As with most of Image's IMAX titles, we get a very impressive "Making Of" presentation. With most of these "Making Of" documentaries, it's almost as interesting as the movie itself. Like the rest of the documentaries, this making of answers that question that's often asked after viewing an IMAX film - how did they film that? If you've never seen the details of an IMAX production, the cameras and equipment that the filmmakers have to take into this universe is quite massive.
The documentary takes us from day one: a gigantic amount of gear that has to be brought down to the locations. Similar to other documentaries about the format, this one is very personal, almost inviting the viewer behind-the-scenes, as we see the production at work and discussing the way to go about getting the next shot. Through interviews and footage, we get an idea of how huge the amount of work is that has to go into using the IMAX equipment in these amazing locations, such as underwater, in this case.
Trailers: Trailers for "Dolphins", "The Magic Of Flight", "Stormchasers", "The Living Sea" and "The Discoverers", all of which are available on DVD.
Books: Information on two dolphin books and small photo galleries for each.
Also: Weblink, 11 minute clip on Marine Science, more information on MacGillivray/Freeman films(whose next picture is "Journey Into Amazing Caves", coming early next year), director bio and additional DVD credits.
Final Thoughts: "Dolphins" is a fun and informative IMAX presentation that perfectly mixes its offering of entertainment and knowledge. Image Entertainment has again done a fine job in the presentation, with excellent audio and video quality. As usual, the lengthy "Making Of" documentary proves to be a fascinating look into the journey of filming a "large-format" motion picture. "Dolphins" is highly recommended.