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Oceans: Our Blue Planet

4K Ultra HD

Blu Ray

  • Score
    41
    from 1 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Oceans: Our Blue Planet offers a unique take despite reused footage; a worthy watch for fans, especially at half price.

    Oceans: Our Blue Planet 4K UHD Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
    66
  • Review highlights 'Oceans: Our Blue Planet's' stunning 4K imagery and technical prowess, noting minor drawbacks in color saturation and occasional compression artifacts.

  • Audio
    66
  • The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix impresses with highlights like Hans Zimmer's score and innovative sound techniques, despite minor inconsistencies and a front-loaded production. Includes English subtitles.

  • Extra
    66
  • This release features a dual-hub keepcase with special cover art and includes insightful extras on marine biology, eco-friendly surfing technology, fish communication, and wildlife conservation aided by 3D printing.

  • Movie
    61
  • Oceans: Our Blue Planet, a BBC Earth collaboration, offers a visually stunning though concise IMAX glimpse into marine ecosystems, slightly deviating from typical BBC depth and narrative style but remaining an accessible and educational experience.

    Video: 66

    In "Oceans: Our Blue Planet," the visual feast provided by BBC Earth is once again on display, capturing the enchanting undersea world with an almost spellbinding clarity. Using cutting-edge technology of its era (2018), this 44-minute documentary manages to envelop viewers in the vastness of our oceans with a quality that rivals, if not surpasses, other BBC Earth masterpieces such as "Planet Earth II" and "Seven Worlds One Planet." The 2160p transfer shines exceptionally well, especially in underwater sequences where common issues like banding and compression artifacts are minimized, allowing for a truly immersive experience. This is further enhanced by HDR10, which accentuates every wave, coral texture, and the vibrant patterns of marine life with remarkable depth and color intensity. However, this brilliance sometimes skirts the edge of being excessively saturated, lending an almost unnatural hue to some scenes.

    Despite the visual splendor, certain aspects detract from the overall high-definition experience. Notably, a few segments exhibit noticeable banding and other compression artifacts, particularly in scenes swathed in deeper blues and blacks. Additionally, some footage appears to have been captured with inferior equipment, momentarily disrupting the film's otherwise crisp presentation. Post-production decisions, like the overt saturation and an occasional CGI sparkle effect, although minor, can detract from the natural beauty of the captured footage. These elements sometimes push the vividness beyond a natural aesthetic, hinting at artificial enhancement where perhaps none was needed.

    On comparing the 4K UHD Blu-ray with its 1080p counterpart, it's clear that the former provides a superior viewing experience in terms of detail and color rendition in most scenarios. However, the Blu-ray version offers a more balanced color palette that some may find more appealing for its natural tones, despite lacking the sharpness and depth of its 4K peer. Issues like banding become more pronounced on Blu-ray but within expected limits for the format. In direct comparison, while both formats have their strengths, the 4K UHD disc unsurprisingly takes precedence for those seeking the utmost in visual fidelity, though it's not without its minor flaws.

    Audio: 66

    The audio presentation of the 4K UHD Blu-Ray, "Oceans: Our Blue Planet," offers a compelling aural experience, defined by its DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix. This mix, while generally living up to the esteemed quality of its predecessors, exhibits a conservative approach at times when the potential for a more encompassing sonic immersion is evident. Notwithstanding these moments of restraint, the audio track is punctuated by exceptional highlights. The original score, a collaborative effort by Hans Zimmer, David Fleming, and Jacob Shea, stands out with its robust presence and extensive dynamic range. This score proficiently utilizes both the front and rear channels to create a powerful auditory envelope, engaging the listener in the depths of the ocean’s mystery.

    In addition to the masterful scoring, the audio mix reveals its technological prowess through innovative recording techniques that capture the nuanced sounds of marine life, offering listeners an unexpectedly rich and nuanced auditory experience. The sounds of fish communicating, captured through state-of-the-art microphone setups, add a novel and immersive dimension to the audio track. The mix also demonstrates effective channel separation in scenes featuring movement and interaction among aquatic creatures, further enhancing the listener’s sense of immersion. However, it is important to note that several portions of the audio presentation lean heavily towards the front channels, especially in segments where the narration takes precedence, leading to a somewhat front-loaded experience.

    Despite these critiques, the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix of "Oceans: Our Blue Planet" delivers more than it falters, offering a soundscape that is both vibrant and detailed. While slight inconsistencies and a somewhat cautious use of the surround channels might temper the overall impact, the moments when it thoroughly engages with its sonic possibilities more than compensate. The excellence in the musical score, along with innovative sound capturing that brings to life the lesser-heard voices of the ocean, rounds off what is predominantly a gratifying auditory journey through our planet's aquatic wonders. Optional English (SDH) subtitles included in the main feature and most extras ensure accessibility for all audiences, adding to the commendable qualities of this audio presentation.

    Extra: 66

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "Oceans: Our Blue Planet" not only presents stunning visuals of underwater life but also enriches the viewing experience with its collection of extras, identical across both 4K and Blu-ray formats. Encased in a dual-hubbed keepcase with initial pressings featuring a poster-themed slipcover, this two-disc set dives deeper into the oceanic world with its supplementary content. From an inspiring featurette on becoming a marine biologist, aimed at encouraging involvement from all ages, to an innovative look at how surfing can contribute to science through the Smartfin project, these extras are as educational as they are entertaining. They offer insights into the secret sounds of fish communication and showcase the heartwarming use of 3D printing to save a turtle, illustrating the intersection of technology and marine conservation.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • How Do You Become a Marine Biologist?: An informative session with marine biologist Rachel Butler on entering the field.
    • Surfing for Science: Smartfin: A look into a gadget that merges surfing with the collection of crucial coastal ecosystem data.
    • The Secret Sounds of Fish: An exploration into the recently understood world of fish communication.
    • The Turtle Saved by 3D Printing: A touching story of marine life rescue through advanced technology.

    Movie: 61

    In the realm of nature documentaries, "Oceans: Our Blue Planet," a 2018 venture by BBC Earth and OceanX Media, emerges as a laudable attempt to educate and warn about the fragility of our global ecosystems. Leveraging the technological and financial support from giants like Microsoft, the film is crafted by Mark Brownlow and Rachel Butler, drawing its essence from the visual grandeur and educational weight synonymous with BBC's acclaimed series such as Planet Earth and The Blue Planet. Distinctly, this production opts for a more singular narrative experience, reminiscent yet divergent from its series counterpart, Blue Planet II. With an occasional nod to its illustrious predecessors through its breathtaking visuals and immersive music, it introduces an alternative approach with Kate Winslet's narration, offering a fresh albeit debated tonal perspective.

    Spanning a brief 42 minutes, the film efficiently serves as an accessible gateway to oceanic wonders, initially tailored for IMAX experiences. Despite its concise format, it doesn't falter in delivering substantial content, ranging from shallow coral adventures to profound deep-sea explorations. This transition not only showcases remarkable animal behaviors and inter-species communication but also highlights human influence on these aquatic realms. The incorporation of advanced audio technology provides an intimate glimpse into underwater life, thus ensuring that the documentary, while brief, is rich in informative content. It adeptly manages to carve its niche within the BBC anthology by appealing to a demographic seeking condensed yet impactful content.

    However, it's not without its critiqued elements, primarily the choice of Kate Winslet for narration which has stirred mixed feelings amongst audiences accustomed to David Attenborough's iconic delivery. Despite this contentious decision, "Oceans: Our Blue Planet" endeavors to rely more on the strength of its visual storytelling rather than narrative depth. It stands as a testament to BBC's commitment to environmental education, albeit in a format that diverges from their standard fare. While it might not reach the pinnacle set by its longer-format cousins, it remains an engaging and visually captivating offering that broadens the appeal of natural history documentaries to include both younger audiences and those less inclined towards extensive episodic commitments.

    Total: 41

    Oceans: Our Blue Planet," presented in 4K UHD Blu-ray by BBC Earth, follows closely on the heels of the acclaimed "Blue Planet II," occupying a niche as both a derivative yet distinctive piece in the realm of wildlife documentaries. Directed by Mark Brownlow and Rachel Butler, this 42-minute film leverages a mix of original and reused footage from its predecessor to narrate the awe-inspiring vastness and intricacy of our oceans. While it may not claim the same pioneering status as "Blue Planet II," its attempt to forge its own identity is commendable. Kate Winslet's voice, guiding viewers through the aquatic wonders, adds a layer of celebrity appeal, though her narration may divide opinions among purists.

    The technical presentation of this 4K/Blu-ray combo pack mirrors the content's quality, offering an immersive visual and auditory experience that, although not surpassing BBC's flagship nature documentaries, stands on its own merits. The 4K resolution enhances the mystical allure of underexplored marine landscapes, bringing an unparalleled clarity and depth to the viewer's experience. However, enthusiasts who seek groundbreaking extras or entirely novel insights may find the package slightly underwhelming, echoing the film's struggle to emerge entirely from the shadow of its more illustrious kin.

    In conclusion, "Oceans: Our Blue Planet" in 4K UHD Blu-ray represents a judicious investment for those newly venturing into the magnificence of marine documentaries or fans looking to complete their collection with a visually stunning, albeit familiar, exploration of aquatic life. While it does not redefine the genre or offer extensive new content beyond what has been captured in "Blue Planet II," its current affordability makes it an attractive addition for casual viewers and dedicated fans alike, promising enchanting glimpses into the mysterious world beneath the waves, courtesy of the BBC Earth series' trademark production quality.