I’ve always been fascinated by ocean life much more than space. Sure, planets and stars are cool, but growing up I was reading books about sharks, not supernovas. That interest in the wonders of the sea has never really faded, so you can imagine that I was pretty stoked to watch IMAX: Deep Sea.
Unfortunately, I missed this one in theatres when it was IMAX: Deep Sea 3D. The only thing three-dimensional about this DVD release is the sweet lenticular slipcover. If you stare at the cover while you turn it slowly, a shark appears to swim up to have you for lunch. Nice.
Anyway, 3D or not, this 40-minute film is a pleasure to watch. While it’s more like infotainment than a serious documentary, Deep Sea still offers up some neat facts while showing off its fascinating visuals. With narration by Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean) and Kate Winslet (Titanic), the story of Deep Sea is the symbiotic nature of ocean life, with every creature being an important part its system, from tiny bacteria to the biggest fish. In this case, the focus is on the predator-prey relationship, as we get to see a lot of species-on-species feasting.
The buffet includes some truly bizarre and intriguing creatures. Like the California Mantis Shrimp, which looks part shrimp, part centipede and part praying mantis, seen here fending off an Octopus. The mantis shrimp, we learn, is the most powerful animal for its size in the known world, thanks to its incredible claws that can attack with the speed of a .22-calibre gun.
Accompanying the breathtaking footage is a pleasin score by award-winning composer Danny Elfman (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005). His music fits the visuals perfectly, with his theme for the sea turtles being particularly good. Sea turtles are nothing new to see, but with Elfman’s playful theme accompanying their story, the sequence is highly entertaining.
If I have a complaint about Deep Sea, it’s the sound effects. There are a lot of noisy scenes here, and most of the sounds we’re hearing have either been artificially enhanced or fabricated entirely. It certainly does add to shots like the wolf eel chowing down on a spiky sea urchin, but at times the effects are just too much, distracting more than enhancing.
Another minor issue is narrative style. Depp and Winslet do a fine job, but the script is definitely geared toward a younger audience, and a few corny, overly dramatic lines are cause for cringing. That the film is aimed at younger viewers isn’t really a criticism, but rather just something you should know going in.
So Deep Sea is a fascinating look at the relationships between incredible species and their fellow ocean-dwellers. How’s the DVD?
Deep Sea is presented on one disc, with both 1.33:1 full-screen and 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen formats. Full-screen is the aspect ratio of its original IMAX presentation, so that’ll be the focus of this review. The film looks great. With gorgeous, vivid colours and sharp details down to tiny, freaky appendages and coral textures, Deep Sea is a feast for your eyes.
English audio is Dolby Digital 5.1, and it sounds good. Depp’s and Winslet’s narration is mixed well with Elfman’s music and the artificially enhanced sound effects, to create a pleasing aural experience. The sound is nice and full, with the surround channels getting plenty of play.
Other audio options are also Dolby Digital 5.1, including French, Spanish and Korean. For subtitles, you can choose from English, French, Spanish and Korean.
Not for lack of room on the disc, IMAX: Deep Sea has very little to offer in the bonus material department. All we get is the theatrical trailer, which only serves to remind viewers that their DVD doesn’t have the 3D presentation that was available in theaters.
IMAX: Deep Sea is light on science, but full to the brim with amazing visuals – pop in the disc and your TV becomes the coolest aquarium around. This one’s worth buying for anyone who shares my fascination with ocean life.