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Warner Home Video presents
Deep Sea (IMAX) (2006)

"Sea life in a whole new way."
- Tagline

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: April 13, 2007

Stars: Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet
Director: Howard Hall

MPAA Rating: G
Run Time: 0h:40m:36s
Release Date: March 27, 2007
UPC: 794051813022
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BB+A D+

DVD Review

During its theatrical release at IMAX theaters, Deep Sea utilized 3D technology and tried to immerse you within the marine atmosphere. I did not have the chance to see this version, but can imagine it included many "wow" moments. While IMAX films always downgrade a bit on home televisions, the lack of 3D creates another obstacle for this DVD release. The rare creatures of the deep offer impressive sights, but they don't really jump off the screen when viewed on a smaller, two-dimensional scale. Would this ambitious presentation still provide beauty and thrills when viewed at home?

Narrated by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, this 40-minute documentary provides an attractive look at some lesser-known species. An example is the nasty Humboldt squid—also known as "Jumbo"—who kills using powerful tentacles and a vicious beak and consistently changes colors. This intriguing creature lives in very deep waters and is a rare find, which makes its appearance highly memorable. More commonplace but equally interesting is the green sea turtle, who takes its time and uses a hard protective shell to thwart enemies. Its gentle nature allows others to remain especially close and even use the sea turtle for various activities. These examples provide several reasons to watch this engaging picture, which showcases a diverse collection of marine life. The symbiotic relationships displayed among many of the sea's organisms remain stunning even when they've been viewed previously. I've always been amazed by the singular movements of a school of fish, and their attempts to avoid a determined predator are another highlight.

Director Howard Hall worked as an underwater cinematographer on both The Living Sea and Coral Reef Adventure—two excellent films that came to mind while viewing this picture. A considerable amount of IMAX pictures have focused on the sea, including Volcanoes of the Deep, which also took viewers to rarely seen areas. Their existence should not discourage filmmakers like Hall from crafting new films about the subject. However, it does place even more pressure on the crew to deliver a unique movie. One original aspect is the effective score from veteran composer Danny Elfman, which adds considerable majesty to the attractive images. However, this addition cannot remove the similar feeling to previous documentaries. Other films, including those listed above, have set the bar pretty high, which places added pressure on Hall to deliver a new experience.

Deep Sea includes some wondrous images, particularly those involving the coral reef sections, which display majestic colors and interesting organisms. It falls a bit short with the narration, however, which takes an extremely basic approach. Depp and Winslet's comments are interspersed sloppily and lack the energetic push of the best narrators. The fault lies mostly with the script, which offers worthy information but needs more lively statements. This flaw does not doom the picture, which offers engaging sequences during its brief running time. The lack of 3D limits its effectiveness, but marine enthusiasts should still enjoy the journey into the deep.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: This release offers you the option of choosing either the original 1.33:1 full-frame transfer or an anamorphic widescreen version. Both offers similar picture quality and bright colors throughout the presentation. However, there are some grainy moments that lack the pristine clarity of other IMAX releases. A possible reason could be the switch from 3D, which certainly offered a much-different visual style. The overall image is fine, though, and delivers an engaging picture of the diverse marine life.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, French, Spanish, Koreanyes

Audio Transfer Review: Although it falls a bit short visually, Deep Sea does match the better IMAX releases with its excellent audio quality. The 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer effectively delivers Danny Elfman's melodic score through all the speakers. His music and the ambient ocean sounds move wonderfully across the sound field and generate an immersive listening experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Happy Feet, Hoot, Toot & Puddle: I'll Be Home for Christmas, Saving Shiloh
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: This release's only extra feature is the theatrical trailer, which provides an upbeat overview of the attractive film. This preview does reference the 3D version that was utilized in IMAX theaters. I should also note the outer packaging, which offers a unique holographic image.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

I'm a major fan of IMAX films and really enjoy watching them on the big screen at our local science center. However, classic pictures like Dolphins also work on the small screen, which requires a strong script to accompany the majestic images. Deep Sea provides some memorable sequences and deserves a look, but it falls a bit short of delivering the unforgettable experience that will lead to repeated home viewings.


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