Dolphins: IMAX

Dolphins: IMAX (2000)
Image Entertainment
Extras: Making Of Documentary, Marine Science Featurette, Theatrical Trailers, Director’s Biography

’Dolphins’ is the stunning follow-up to MacGillivray Freeman Films’ previous undersea IMAX adventure, ’The Living Sea.’ Like its predecessor, ’Dolphins’ also features a celebrity narrator (Pierce Brosnan) and music by Sting. While the previous film touched on many different aquatic creatures in a variety of exotic locales, ’Dolphins’ focuses on, well, dolphins.

In the first part of the film you follow marine biologists as they study the differences between dolphins in the Bahamas and those along the Atlantic coast of Argentina. The very in-depth discussion of these fascinating animals is nicely complemented by the musical score and the beautiful photography. The second part focuses on the unique relationship between Dean Bernal and a wild dolphin named JoJo. Since 1980 the two have swum together in the seas off the Turks & Caicos Islands in the West Indies and their enduring friendship is truly amazing.

As with all IMAX films, the running length is rather short, clocking in at 44 minutes, and the video is in full frame as that is the format for which IMAX cameras are designed. The video is very sharp with beautiful colors ranging from the light turquoise of the Caribbean sea to the inky blue waters off South America. Brightness and contrast are spot on and allow for full detail even as the scenes rapidly change from light to dark. On a few shots some minor digital enhancement is visible along the edges of the sweeping terrain shots. This is something I’ve seen in every IMAX DVD so perhaps it is an unfortunate by-product of compressing the 70mm film. For the most part the picture remains stunning throughout.

The audio is offered in an English DTS 5.1 mix or English, French, and Spanish DD 5.1 mixes. While the score isn’t as bombastic as that of ’The Living Sea,’ it is still quite enjoyable. Sting’s music blends in quite well and isn’t as intrusive as on the earlier disc. The soundstage is incredibly full and the surrounds are used to create a very immersive experience. Deep bass is rather infrequent but does occasionally kick in during the musical score. The DTS and DD tracks are very similar although the DTS track seems to offer a bit more fullness and imaging to the sides. While many IMAX soundtracks feature an all-out assault on your senses, ’Dolphins’ offers a much more soothing and pleasing sound mix.

As for extras, ’Dolphins’ provides a very good, full-length documentary on the making of the film. This has become standard issue for MacGillivray Freeman DVDs and really illustrates how difficult these films are to create. The second featurette is entitled ’Marine Science: Exploring the Deep’ and offers a sort of career synopsis for young people interested in Marine Biology. Also included are trailers in DD 2.0 for the IMAX films ’Dolphins,’ ’The Living Sea,’ ’The Magic of Flight,’ ’Stormchasers,’ and ’The Discoverers;’ and a short biography of Greg MacGillivray, the film’s director.

IMAX films on DVD offer educational programs packaged with stunning visuals and sound that make them unlike any other nature documentaries. They hold up quite well to repeat viewing and the soundtracks alone are well worth listening to time and again. ’Dolphins’ is no exception and presents a very enlightening look at these intelligent animals. If you can stop oohing and ahhing at the audio and video long enough you might even learn something. ’Dolphins’ is a DVD that is suitable for all ages and comes very highly recommended.