As part of the Warner Bros. Blu-ray Elite program, Fat Guy Kevin Carr was sent a batch of free Blu-rays to enjoy. Thanks to Warner Home Video for giving him a chance to watch and review BBC’s Life and Planet Earth Collector’s Set, Dolphin Tale and Project X again.
BBC’s Life and Planet Earth Collector’s Set
What it’s about: This 8-disc collector’s set includes two of the BBC’s most brilliantly produced and gorgeous nature documentaries. Life, narrated by Oprah Winfrey, includes four discs with 130 stories of the natural world: “Challenges of Life,” “Reptiles and Amphibians,” “Mammals,” “Fish,” “Birds,” “Insects,” “Hunters and the Hunted,” “Creatures of the Deep,” “Plants” and “Primates.” Planet Earth tours the entire planet with spotlights on the various regions, from the poles and mountains to the deserts and oceans.
The movie: ROCKS! – It is a simple fact that the absolute best nature documentaries of the modern age are coming from the folks at BBC Earth. The intimate look at animals, societies and the natural world are simply breathtaking. Each episode contains drama and and epic scope. The best part of this collector’s set are the Planet Earth installments, simply because they are held up by the classic narration of David Attenborough. Unfortunately, Life features Oprah Winfrey as the narrator, and she doesn’t quite have the gravitas as Attenborough does.
The bonus material: Kinda rocks! – The bulk of the special features are located on the Life discs because the Planet Earth discs are fewer than its separate release. Life extras include “Life on Location” production diaries, deleted scenes and a music-only viewing option (if you’re as unimpressed by Winfrey as I am).
Notes on the Blu-ray experience: There’s no end to the gorgeous look of both of these documentary sets. Shot in high definition, these are so brilliant to watch, and Blu-ray is the only way to experience them. Not only is the content educational, but these discs will serve as a Blu-ray reference presentation for your entire home system.
What it’s about: Dolphin Tale tells the true story of a dolphin that washed up on a Florida beach and was rescued by some people at a marine hospital. The dolphin’s tale was damaged and had to be amputated. Because dolphins rely on their tails to survive by swimming, the injured dolphin (named Winter by the marine hospital) was in grave danger. This led the people to try and develop a prosthetic tail for the mammal, allowing it to swim without damaging itself.
The movie: Kinda sucks! – Call me a cynic, but this movie was just too sweet and wholesome for me. I have nothing against the dolphin, but the story structure and presentation reminded me too much of a Hallmark movie-of-the-week rather than a feature film. I suppose that’s the general reaction I have with almost any movie that wins the Heartland Truly Moving Picture Award. This kind of movie is steeped in melodrama, with a young boy’s rebellious nature and his problems dealing with his mother (Ashley Judd). Not even the presence of Morgan Freeman can save the film from being a bit of a corny cliche… no matter how true the story is.
The bonus material: Kinda rocks! – The Blu-ray includes several featurettes, including “At Home with Winter,” “Dolphin Tale: Spotlight on a Scene” and “Winter’s Inspiration.” Animated shorts “The Hutash Rainbow Bridge” and “Ormie and the Cookie Jar” are made for the family audience. Finally, the disc includes an additional scene and a gag reel. The disc also features Flixster and UltraViolet Digital Copy.
Notes on the Blu-ray experience: The movie was shot in 3D, and that wasn’t quite necessary, though the disc I was sent only was available in 2D. Still, the underwater footage is the best part to watch for quality images.
Rated R and Unrated
What it’s about: Another found footage movie chronicles the antics of several high school kids planning the biggest party ever to hit the city. When the party gets out of control, the police come, but that can’t stop the madness. Soon, the night devolves into a violent, drug-filled daze of decadence and irresponsible behavior.
The movie: SUCKS! – Wait… I take that back. Project X couldn’t suck more. Maybe if it managed to punch your grandmother in the stomach and pour sugar in your gas tank could this film be any worse. This pointless, hedonistic mess is nauseating to watch, offering nothing of redeeming value whatsoever, whilst inspiring real-life criminal parties no matter what the disclaimer on the box says. I understand that I am older than the people this movie is aimed at, and every generation has their own party film. But give me Animal House, Porky’s, American Pie, Superbad or Can’t Hardly Wait any day over this garbage. I hate this film from the very depth of my soul. If it had any balls, I would kick it in them.
The bonus material: SUCKS! – This Blu-ray has scant features, but the ones it does have brag about how much damage was caused by the party and a too-little-too-late “confession” about the behind the scenes of creating the event. The movie also includes UltraViolet streaming, but I can’t imaging why anyone would want this polluting their mobile device.
Notes on the Blu-ray experience: It’s a found footage movie that will make you throw up watching it. Why even bother in high definition?