Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Water Life |
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Documentary
Water Life captures extraordinary locations and intimate animal behavior never before seen on — film. Two years in the making, this groundbreaking series takes viewers on an unprecedented — visual journey to aquatic ecosyste... more »
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A sometimes flawed, but well executed documentary series
J.P.E. | Los Angeles, CA USA | 09/01/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was excited for the "Water Life" release, as there are few long format documentary series focusing primarily on aquatic cinematography available on Blu Ray, with the exception of some single titles (Discover, Planet Earth, NatGeo). That being said, the production, though commendable and ambitious, does not live up to the grandeur of the BBC produced nature docs, which I would consider the standard. They do however use them as a model, excluding any footage of scientists in the field, talking heads, animation, etc, which I find to be a unwelcomed fluff in most Discovery Channel and Natgeo wildlife products. The series is produced by CIN-TV (Caribbean International Networks) and co-sponsored by a range of conservation organizations, so the message tends to lean strongly towards environmental responsibility and protection more so than biological behavior or analysis.
A great deal of the footage of wildlife is shot in (sometimes extreme) close-up. Some of this aforementioned imagery is gorgeous and unique, and offers a visual treat in HD. Shots of fish eyes, scales, amphibian skin, birds, etc, provide a certain amount of intimacy not often found in larger more sweeping surveys of nature on film. It also allows the cinematography and editing to be a bit more abstract and creative by not limiting to perfectly framed shots and allowing sequences to play-out with more of a montage feel. In my opinion there are bit too many time remapped shots however (specifically vistas and flowing water), which are not my favorite when used for any reason other than to convey purposeful time-lapse rather than for aesthetics reasons.
The narration is a bit uneven, and at times, strangely paced, without the cohesive editorial structure that BBC is so good at. My guess is that it has been translated to English for this package, as the series most likely was originally produced in Spanish (though this is only speculation based on the CIN-TV and almost strictly Latin American credits). This would account for narration lines that seem to repeat verbatim back to back at times, and descriptions and analysis that, though correct, are a bit off in word choice. It should be noted that, very much to the discredit of the distributors (Questar) there are no subtitles. This is a major packaging flaw, especially for a documentary, and one which could potentially be useful as an educational tool. In my opinion, not including subtitles in a global documentary series is unacceptable and does a huge disservice to the directors and producers. The blu-ray discs are mastered at 1080i, which can be noticeable at times, and there is some distracting banding on random deep ocean shots, where color mastering and compression are at fault, but overall the image quality is very clean and colors crisp and accurate.
Overall, this product is well worth viewing at the Amazon price, though I could not recommend it at the suggested retail price. As a wildlife documentary buff, I tend to be hyper-critical of the production values and intentions of a film. I appreciate that this series exists at all, as the use of HD to actually create a planned purposeful program rather than to display pretty images is sorely lacking in the market. Though the series does, understandably fail to reach the levels of productions from larger companies, I believe it has maximized its resources and potential to deliver something commendable. This was not thrown together with found footage, gimmicky editing, and the lack of direction that plagues American television documentary titles. Surely CIN-TV did not have the $10 million used to make BBC's "Blue Planet" or the $25 Million allowed for "Planet Earth," yet their enthusiasm for the series and professional approach to the content is evident."
Think Youre Getting "Planet Earth" Pt II? Think Again!
Darren B. Peister | New York | 02/08/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Well if you swooned over Planet Earth and were eager like me to elongate the love affair with new material, you're going to SORELY disappointed with Water Life. Senator, I know Planet Earth. Planet Earth was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Planet Earth... Which is to say that while the visuals are terrific and look great in HD on the big screen, the script is dreadfully shallow. The Voice-over guy sounds like someone you'd hear when you're put on hold ("Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line...") so he got grating mighty quickly. And the script is the pits. While you're seeing great footage the audio track simply doesnt support what you are seeing. What kind of fish are those? And where the heck are we? We get it- it's all about water but throw us a bone and tell us more than just these charming phrases. I see clusters of eggs. Anyone know what kind of eggs they are? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? My kids aged 10 and 13 got bored rather quickly and actually made a game of counting how many times the guy said the word water. You'll note that the packaging looks mighty similar to our beloved Planet Earth but "Water Life" is in a word- shallow. So see it if want but for heaven's sake don't listen."
In the balance, not worth it
D. E. Hill | Centennial, CO United States | 01/16/2010
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This is a very disappointing production. As other reviewers have said, it definitely is far below the quality of recent BBC productions. In fact, very far below those lofty standards. If you collect the several criticisms that have been posted on this, they are all correct. First, unless you know very little about natural history, you will learn nothing from these programs. I would not say the the narrative is error-prone, as in the narrative in some PBS Nature productions, it is just simple-minded and hard to listen to for any length of time. In one episode, on fresh water, you will flip from shots of tropical animals to a temperate stream, with no apparent reason. This is typical- you will be flipped from clip to clip in a sequence that may have been random! Much of the source material was very low quality, but most of it was very good, in fact. It is what the film editors did with these clips that boggles the viewers. Invariably, time motion is jerky and interrupted, so that, in panning landscape shots in particular, there is no smooth motion at all. At first I thought that this was related to digital artifacts (and there are many of those), but no, this was intentional. If you see a good clip (and there are many), you will have only about one second at most to watch it, before you are flashed to something else. Whoever put this together may have had a background in "creative video editing," but clearly no evident appreciation for the thoughtful observation of nature by a viewer. One would think that the theme of water movement and its impact on various ecosystems could be the basis of a meaningful production, but this one is very hard for me to watch. Maybe other people process visual information differently than I do! Anyway, for awesome productions see BBC productions on the Galapagos, Planet Earth, and most of the Yellowstone production. I really enjoy watching those, as much as I find this water series difficult to enjoy. Good natural history video? It starts with outstanding cinematography, but also requires excellent research and thematic focus on scripts, and careful film editing to preserve the special art of this medium. Rent before you buy this one!"
Gorgeous footage, irritating narration
Raphael D. Mazor | long beach, ca | 04/10/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
"To its credit, this documentary deserves a lot of credit for tackling a subject that is rarely treated so extensively in nature docs. Moreover, the makers of this film should be creditted for making episodes that cover, ostensibly, unusual habitats that would scarcely get mentioned in most docs, like water tanks.
But the biggest problem with this documentary series is the script. How would I describe it?
-Largely fact-free (maybe one out of ten statements have a nugget of fact in them; the rest is fluff)
-Heavy use of hackneyed phrases and cliches
-Very non-specific about the subjects (locations and species are rarely identified)
-Excessive anthropomorphism of animals, and even inanimate objects.
So, if you are disposed to enjoy docs, you might like watching it despite the problems above. But odds are, you'll just be disappointed."