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I don't normally do film reviews - but noticing the shortage of 3D reviews here, I am trying to add a few, especially because 3D films are quite expensive in comparison with ordinary DVD's and the quality varies so much. Some are really worth paying the extra money for. Others are not. This film is one of the ones that makes buying a 3D TV worthwhile.
This summer we past we purchased a Bush passive 3D televisions and bluray player. I understood the technology involved in this should give the impression of looking through a window into a 3 dimensional world. I wasn't really expecting much in the way of things leaping, or in this case swimming out of the screen, but this film changed my expectations of bluray 3D. I do appreciate that a water scene allows for the best possible use of this technology, but even so- this film is breathtaking. We have since purchased and rented a fair number of 3D films, and the 3D quality varies widely from one film to the next, but this remains the single best film, in terms of 3D quality I have seen.
One complaint I have had with many 3D documentaries is that only a small portion is actually 3D - or at least noticably 3D. You often get lengthy conversations with narrators in a lab or other indoor setting broken up by short vivid 3D. This film is only 41 minutes, but every minute is stunning underwater photography by Jean-Michel Cousteau. Played in a darkened room it actually gives and impression of being on an underwater dive. I do not feel like I am doing this justice, but you can see the depth of the ocean sea bed spread out before you, the ripples of the waves and the iridescence of the sharks skin. The colours of the fish are amazing, but the most amazing part is that actually appear to swim into the room. This doesn't look like looking into a window. This appears as if you were submerged underwater and the fish are swimming around you. They do vanish before they actually get to your face though. It looks as if they remain an arms length away.
This film is entitled "Sharks", and I would say at least half of the film is about sharks, but there are a number of other animals shown as well. The film is narrated by the voice of Jean-Michel Cousteau, but he appears as sea turtle in this film. There are a number of scenes with fish, a beautiful segment on the manta ray, the sawfish, sea lions and dolphins. I have read at least one complaint that this film does not show enough actual sharks, but there are plenty of sharks here too, including some brilliant photography on Hammerhead sharks and of a whale shark. The great white appears as well, and another species of shark whose name I can not remember.
If you are looking for feeding frenzies or blood and gore though, this film is not for you. There is only one brief scene in which the sharks eat anything, and all you see are a few sharks rolling about in a mad tumble and some cloudy water. It is impossible to see whet they are eating - the only reason we know for certain they are in fact feeding is the narrators voice describing this as a feeding frenzy. This is not a high adrenaline thrill film, it is quiet relaxing film which we only watch just before bedtime. It is perfectly suited for families with very young children, even very sensitive ones. The filmmaker appears to be trying to show sharks as a beautiful part of the marine environment not as mindless killing machines. If you are looking for Jaws in 3D you will be terribly dissapointed.
I felt that the content on this film was quite good. The narration is at a level that young children can understand, and I do feel that this film is very educational. I do believe they took the very best underwater photography they could get and tailored the narration to suit, rather than having a set narrative and trying to find film to match. My impression is that the 3D footage was the main priority, they wanted to create a completely breathtaking experience, and narration was secondary.
Because this film has such extreme effects, and this type of technology is quite new, there is the possibility of some ghosting. The only place in which I noticed this at all - and I have seen the film a few times now, is when it appears the jellyfish are getting very close to you, or well out of the screen. It is very slight, but there is an odd sensation as some things seem to swimming toward you and then disappear when they get a few feet away - as if they are vanishing before your eyes. These scenes are short, but I even so it is possibly to get some eye strain trying to focus as they swim closer and closer.
I do have to note though, that the 3D experience is affected by several variables. I have read one review where the person felt the 3D was awful, and this was almost certainly the case for him. The biggest issue I have found with 3D is that you must have immaculately clean glasses. The more intense the 3D of the film, the more any tiny flaw in the glasses will ruin it. One tiny fingerprint and things begin to blur resulting in terrible eye strain. So - realising this you make sure to give the glasses the children have been using a good wipe, but if you aren't very careful you can make tiny scratches. Even storing 2 pairs of glasses touching each other can leave tiny imperfections as I learned the hard way. Again a tiny scratch will be very noticeable on a very strong 3D film - which is why I use this film to test my glasses. Thankfully - I have passive 3d glasses so replacing them is not dear. It cost me £2 a pair in my local cinema, or £6 for four on ebay. On an active 3D TV the glasses can cost as much as £100 a pair though, so I assume people would be less willing to replace them after a tiny scratch.
The amount of lighting in a room will have some effect on 3D experience as well. This film works far better in a darkened room. You do need to sit at the correct angle, which is straight towards the TV. If you are sitting at angle, the 3D will be affected. Finally, you need to find just the right distance. If the 3d looks weak, move forward. If it is too strong and too much ghosting, move back a bit. This will not correct problems with a poor DVD, but if the film is well made, such as this one, you should be able to find optimal viewing conditions for a truly magical trip underwater.
Please note: This film was watched in passive 3D. I do understand the experience may be different - more intense but also more prone to ghosting with an active 3D TV, but never having viewed one myself I can only repeat hearsay. If you do watch this in active 3d - your experience may be different - in which case - why not add your own review?
This bluray is packaged as a single disk which can play in 3D or 2D - with no extra features. This curently sells new on Amazon for £10 or £8.21 with Amazon marketplace, both prices including postage.