on April 4, 2013
George Fenton's terrific score anchors this spectacular BBC documentary from the same creative team that would later produce "Planet Earth," including host David Attenborough and producer Alastair Fothergill. BBC's 1080p transfer of their acclaimed 2001 "Blue Planet" mini-series still offers breathtaking footage of life under and just above the surface, from dolphins and killer whales to seal pups and baby turtles - the latter groups fighting to stay away from predators.
However, because the BBC's Blu-Ray presentation has been mastered from a standard-definition source (and is clearly stated as such on the back cover, albeit in tiny print), the upscaled presentation varies greatly from certain sequences that nearly look HD in quality (the film based portions), to others that are clearly derived off video elements and display jaggies and other issues (i.e. much of the underwater footage). Either way, none of the transfer is actually presented in high-def -- so consumers will have to determine for themselves whether this upscale is enough of an upgrade over the prior DVD release to justify the purchase (I don't have the DVD to compare it with). Five bonus programs, interviews with Fothergill and other crew members, 80 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage and DTS MA 5.1 soundtracks round out the release.
ADDITIONAL NOTES - There seems to be a misconception that BLUE PLANET was entirely filmed on 16mm film stock. I refer readers to this 2002 in-depth article on the production of BLUE PLANET and its HD mastering, which includes interviews with the producers and presents evidence to the contrary:
It clearly states "the source material varied from a wide range of film and video formats," says that "a significant percentage of the original material was shot on video," and goes onto state "having so much video footage interspersed with the film footage was a change that presented a particular challenge in providing a seamless transfer to HD."
So not all of it was shot on film stock. Underwater portions, which I mentioned were derived from a video source, is also confirmed in this article: "however, for many of the underwater sequences it was important to give a sense of speed, so video running at 50i was more appropriate. Shooting video underwater is also easier because the cameras are smaller, and you can spend more time filming before you have to change rolls". There are jaggies and other problems all throughout this transfer IN those moments that are derived not from 16mm but video sources -- clearly upconversion artifacts.
Perhaps it was too daunting a task for them to track down every last bit of footage and remaster it for HD. The author of the article even asks the BBC rep why the whole production "wasn't shot in HD to begin with," which implies that not every scrap of footage was either shot on film or an HD-based video format. Keep in mind this production was filmed in the late '90s when it was not cost-prohibitive for crews to all be carrying HD cameras around (which is also stated in the article).
Either way, the fact is that this transfer -- all of it, including the film based portions -- is a standard-def upconvert, and is confirmed as such on the packaging itself.
on February 27, 2003
There isn't a moment in these four DVD's that won't have you gazing in wonder and admiration at the effort and amazing footage captured in this series. Of all the DVD's I own, and that is no small number I assure you, this entire set never sits long enough to get more than a days worth of dust on it. I often watch an episode as I linger in bed waiting for sleep to overtake me. Equally as often, I have to switch it off so I can get sleep--it is that unendingly fascinating. No matter how many times I've watched it, the presentation and simply astounding events they have captured in this series always manage to keep my attention. To even try and relate what the hours of footage reveal would only do it an injustice. I won't even try and I'm sure others could describe it better than I. Let me say this, if you have never seen Blue Planet then you have been sorely missing out. It most certainly contains footage of the marine world that cannot be seen anywhere else. Not merely a few minutes here and there but nearly every minute of the series is unique and nearly unbelievable to behold.
Yes, I realize that it sounds like I'm waxing over this set in glowing terms--and I am, but for good reason. Don't rent these, don't borrow them from a friend and certainly don't just wait around trying to decide if this set is for you. Just click the order button right now and make this set your own. After you do, I think you'll agree it is among the best documentaries ever created, and simultaneously, one of the best DVD investments you've made.
on January 6, 2004
There are many reasons to own this wonderful series on DVD, but one reason stands out: The Killer Whale/Seal Pup segment of the "Coasts" DVD. The Amazon.com main reviewer mentioned this scene in his review - and with good reason. It is THE most amazing piece of wildlife footage EVER captured on film - even surpassing the National Geographic special with the Great White Sharks breaching.
If you need more reasons than that, the "Ocean World" DVD contains unbelievable footage of Sir David in a skiff right above a Blue Whale (the largest creature ever to have lived) along with a stirring segment about an orca pod pursuing a gray whale and her calf.
All of my friends - who are decidely NOT nature buffs like me -were left speechless after seeing some of the segments in this set (particularly the aforementioned ones).
The Life of Mammals DVD set by Attenborough is also terrific.
on November 16, 2008
I first saw Blue Planet on the Discovery channel... years ago and I absolutely fell in love with it. It is one of the most beautifully filmed documentaries and I think only Planet Earth (ironically) surpasses it in that beauty. I have also always loved David Attenborough, who has a way of really bringing the majesty of whatever you are watching into your home. This series is educational and beautiful to the point of tears. This is a must for any DVD library and I would highly recommend Planet Earth as well.
on October 18, 2008
This product, similar to the Planet Earth series, provides ten one-hour long episodes of well-done photography and information about the sea life on earth. I've also enjoyed the special features of how BBC filmed these episodes and the planning behind each one. I love to travel and this series has taken me to different parts of the world to see its beauty and uniqueness. It's a relaxing end-of-the-day activity at my house!
on March 4, 2005
I recently watched all 8 segments of this series and found them far more riveting than I thought I would. Each one was excellent. I am a biologist, but I have to admit, some nature documentaries can be a bit dull, or they try too hard to be exciting by editing unrelated footage together and end up being silly or unrealistic. This BBC series of documentaries was outstanding in every way - even if the footage had been poor, Sir Attenborough's narration is elucidating and interesting and completely worth watching the series for; and if the narration had been dull, the footage is simply stunning and completely worth watching the series for. Together they are outstanding and I found myself often saying "holy cow - that's amazing!" Even as a biologist myself, I learned much watching these. I can't recommend these highly enough for everyone - kids, adults, nature buffs, non-nature-buffs, divers, non-divers, non-documentary-buff... even people who don't usually like documentaries or nature stuff can't help but have their interest piqued (as recently proved by my in-laws!).
A note to the sensitive or squeamish - the series doesn't gloss over the reality of sometimes grizzly deaths in nature. The pod of orcas hunting a grey whale and her calf, or snatching sea lion pups from the beach or polar bears ambushing belugas at their only breathing hole may be particularly disturbing. It's real, but not always pretty.
Some high points of the series: underwater footage of polar bears (who can swim hundreds of kilometers); a swirling school of mackerel being simultaneously attacked by dolphin, diving birds, tuna and marlin; bizarre hunting methods of alien animals from the very deep ocean; dolphins driving mullets out of the water to snatch them in mid-air or driving their heads into seafloor to catch buried razorfish; and the endless incredible facts about these creatures delivered by Sir David.
Not to be missed - the extra features ("The Making of" for each episode, fact files and photo galleries) are every bit as cool as the actual series'.
Kudos to the BBC for their huge effort and a truely excellent series.
on August 16, 2007
This is a great documentary, as is Planet Earth. Both come highly recommended. However, for those considering purchasing this set, you should note that a new special edition containing a 5th DVD is coming out in October.
on July 7, 2008
Produced by the same people who brought us the amazing Planet Earth, we're given the no less amazing Blue Planet.
Where Planet Earth gave us the world, Blue Planet focuses entirely on the oceans and all the life that depend on it. What we're given here is a true masterpiece in photography and cinematography that'll blow away your senses and amaze you. No one has ever captured ocean life like this before.
This set is comprised of 4 discs, with each disc consisting of 2 areas or conditions in which sea life flourish. From the coasts and tides to the deep and the arctic, just about every area of the ocean known to man is beautifully captured. We're shown an amazing variety of fish and animals here, including whales, jellyfish, lobsters, crabs, seals, dolphins, sharks, rarely seen deep sea life, birds, various coral and plant life, and much more. The struggles and rituals of mating, hunting, feeding, and fighting are all uncovered before our eyes. There's just so much to see and learn here. What you know or what you thought you knew about the ocean and oceanlife will be put to the test. For educational and entertainment purposes, this set is truly worth it's weight in gold.
The audio and video are superb. The images are crystal clear and we're given some outstanding close ups which reveal each creature in splendid detail. Words simply cannot describe some of the sights to be seen here. If you've seen Planet Earth, then you'll have an idea of what to expect. The audio adapts easily to DD 5.1 systems. The narration comes across clearly, the music is soulful and appropriate for every scene, and the sound of water, rain and the animals themselves work nicely to the surrounds.
As with Planet Earth, Blue Planet helps to shed the light on the glory of God's creation. As a man of faith, I find it a big faith booster as everything on screen just screams divine design. Because most of us are now trapped in our own concrete jungles, it's just good to get a look at nature and the world we live in. To see, experience and remind ourselves of the beauty and majesty of our planet. Untouched and uninterfered with by the worst and most destructive predators of them all, us. To see life the way it should be, as it was meant to be. This is an easy must buy and recommend for anyone who's even slightly interested in viewing nature as it is.
on April 10, 2013
I have the "Planet Earth" Blu-ray set and the quality of the images is impressive. I recall that when Blu-ray first came out all the electronics stores used this series to demonstrate their monitors and I was hoping for similar quality here.
The "Blue Planet" Blu-rays just aren't of this technical calibre. The image quality ranges from okay to poor, often with jagged edges on swimming fish and "halos" around them (I imagine from sharpening artefacts) and washed out colours (and paradoxically, gaudy cartoonish colours). Even the best "Blue Planet" sequences can't match the average (or even poorer) quality "Planet Earth" sequences.
I can't see any reason to replace the DVDs (which I also own) with the Blu-rays and regret doing so, especially since I bought a second set for my daughter. We watched it together in dismay. She said it reminded her of watching "Magnum PI". I didn't ask for enlightenment, but she wasn't being complimentary.
They don't appear to be HD at all. I have hundreds of Blu-ray discs and, while I haven't watched them all yet, this set is the poorest quality I have seen. If this is the best that the BBC could do with the source material that they had, they shouldn't have issued it on Blu-ray.
The show itself is excellent. 5 out of 5 for the DVDs.
on February 9, 2012
If you're like me, then you only watch nature films on Blu-Ray. This format lends the feature the wonderous justice it deserves. And, well, for this puppy, unfortunately the Blu-Ray distribution rights are exclusive to the Discovery Channel, so you won't find it listed on Amazon until the exclusive rights have expired. At any rate, you may find the Blu-Ray for the "Blue Planet: Seas of Life" title right here: [...] and if that link dies, just go to: [...] EDIT: Whoops, I forgot that Amazon kills external links, for good reason. Go to the store.discovery website, this set is usually on the front page under the Best Seller list.
I always like to share good things. Also, do yourself a favor, Discovery Channel always has a bunch of promo codes out there for their store, do a Google search and save yourself 25%. You can get this well under $30.00 and sometimes with free shipping.
EDIT: Okay, a couple things I want to mention now that I've finished watching this series. Review time...
The set comes on two disks. The first disk is all Attenborough--a God for those of us nature movie lovers. The second disk is narrated by Pierce Brosnan, who actually doesn't suck. I mean, I feel like I'm having an affair when I say that, as if I'm disgracing Sir Attenborough, but seriously, Brosnan has a great voice for nature narration. Thing is, if you Google reviews on this series you'll learn quickly why this Blu-Ray is hard to find, I mean, aside from the licensing issue mentioned above. The production quality isn't the worlds greatest. There are some reviews out there unnecessarily scathing because this feature doesn't have the constant eye-popping caliber of Life or Planet Earth, BUT--and I mean this honestly as a collector of nearly fifty nature Blu-Rays--don't be too dissuaded by those overreactions. The quality isn't as polished as Life or Planet Earth, but it's certainly better than DVD quality. Yet far beyond that, this documentary series is REALLY fascinating. There aren't very many comprehensive documentary studies on the ocean that cover so many facets of biological science. And with that consideration, this series is of high caliber. No seriously, the depth of coverage is mind-boggling. The deep ocean, particularly exploring the mid-ocean ridges (miles under the ocean surface) is mind blowingly sensational. It really gives you an idea of how much of the planet we have left to explore. One aside, and I say this hoping that BBC Earth and Discovery Channel read this review, the only thing I HATE (and hate is the appropriate word) about this feature is one of the marine biologist experts; this dude is WAY too enthusiastic and comes off ridiculous and unprofessional (this is the dude in the salmon colored shirt with the long hair). He talks to the viewer as if we are all twelve. Guy should never be permitted to be in front of a rolling camera, he's so effen' annoying.
One final thing I want to say in defense of the set, it offers a lot of replayability. Although there isn't a lot of sweeping aerial footage showing off the ocean (as in that MAGNIFICENT and NEARLY FLAWLESS "Wild Pacific") this film is more scientifically centered, a breath of fresh air, in my opinion. You get a fantastic dose of edification from this series. It's, I would say, equivalent to going to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium and reading every exhibit. So for that, it's superb in learning character. This is why I recommend this feature.
DISCLAIMER: If this is your first-time nature movie purchase, I insist on steering you to BBC's "Wild Pacific," "Galapagos," "Yellowstone," or "Ganges." Those are the true entrances into this fascinating and totally-worthy-of-your-time nature movie obsession.