“Imagine a world of incredible color and beauty. Of crabs wearing jellyfish for hats. Of fish disguised as frogs, stones, and shag carpets. Of a kaleidoscope of underwater life. Now go explore it.”
Jim Carrey narrates this IMAX experience that takes you deep under the ocean. The film focuses on five particular locations: New Britain and Milne Bay (both in New Guinea), South Australia, the Great Barrier Reef, and Indonesia. Because this was filmed with IMAX equipment and presented here in high definition, you can expect a pretty spectacular ride on this one. Most of the animals shown here are obscure and rare, including plenty of cuttlefish segments and some really bizarre but striking sea dragons. The coral reef settings are extremely beautiful. It was originally presented in 3D during its IMAX run, but that version is not included here.
You might think that Jim Carrey is an odd choice to narrate such a straightforward documentary style film. I have to admit that the same concerns crossed my mind as well. Not to worry. He’s actually quite reserved and uses a very serious and quiet voice to deliver the narrative. He does crack the occasional joke, but we’re not talking about anything outrageous or particularly out of place. He does a solid job here. The only time the film gets distracting is during one scene involving cuttlefish footage where there is a rather intrusive song. Outside of the expected global warming propaganda crap, the material sticks to the point. It all ends with an odd female vocal rendition of Ringo Starr’s Beatles song Octopus’s Garden.
Under The Sea is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The 1080p image is brought to you through aVC-1 codec at an average of 30 – 35 mbps. You really can’t beat this thing for image quality. Blu-ray high definition does a wonderful job of bringing out the splendor of this magical underwater world. I’ve done some diving myself, and it’s like visiting an alien planet. The image presentation here does as much as is possible to bring that experience to your living room. Colors are at times truly magnificent. That’s to be expected. Where this presentation really shines is in the level of detail. When you are being presented animals that use color and texture to camouflage themselves, this image captures the nuances of these fabulous creatures and their clever ability to disappear into their environment. This is the best example of that quality on a recorded medium I’ve seen to date. It doesn’t hurt that the bit rate is able to be quite high because of the limited running time and short bonus features on the disc.
The DTS-HD Master Audio track doesn’t have to do a lot here. But it surpasses what expectations you might be likely to have. You can hear Carrey just fine in spite of his rare low-key vocalizations. There are plenty of ambient effects that deliver the nuance sounds of rushing water, splashing sounds, and the movement of the various creatures on the screen. The score delivers as well.
There is a second disc which is a combination disc containing a DVD version of the film and a digital copy.
Filming IMAX – Under The Sea: (7:17) HD This is mostly a promo piece which spends most of its time hyping the IMAX process and the images that the film delivers. They do make a point of telling us about the several tons of equipment required and the special logistics of getting it to the locations. These logistics included a charter cargo plane. I wonder what kind of carbon footprint these folks left. How many of those precious Australian seals did they knock off with the plane alone? Two or three at least.
Expeditions: These are trailers, pretty much, for each of the regions visited in the film.
If you take out the preachy global warming messages and the obvious attempts at trying to make you feel guilty, it’s a pretty solid release all the way around. From production values to the script you can expect some informative yet entertaining segments. You get 40 minutes of state-of-the-art underwater photography and some lesser known inhabitants of this area known as the Coral Triangle off the coast of Australia. “That’s all there is to it.”