Tropical Rainforest is more or less an impassioned plea for humans to get out. We spend about 20-minutes detailing the humble beginnings of the rainforest throughout the history of the planet, looking at the life it produces, the evolution, and then MAN! It’s not subtle for sure, the sights of trees being hauled off and loggers dominating amongst muddy roads that have replaced the greenery.
We’re evil. In some way, writing this on a laptop is probably evil too, sucking the very life blood of the rainforest dry. It’s not that they don’t need protection or someone to stand up for them. The deep, foreboding voice of narrator Geoffrey Holder is one way to make your point. Certainly a hard to miss presence. Here though, it’s as if they’re pointing guns as the audience and telling to do something, as if big pharma will suddenly stop plundering the goods thanks to IMAX.
Tropical Rainforest contains plenty of ammunition for the fight though, stunning views of Macaws, tree frogs, and camouflaged insects. It’s all unique, colorful, and varied in its existence. Had the feature just stuck with it, using the time for a celebration of life and its wonders, this would have been memorable.
This one even drops its educational value, the opening so careful to remain informative. Once MAN enters the picture, that portion of the piece seems forgotten, or is dropped to a fraction of the the slim remaining running time. That doesn’t make for a great selling point either, especially coming on Blu-ray 20-years post-release considering the changing dynamics and the need for killer visuals.
Age is not a factor here short of the damage done to the print. Specks and scratches display a need for a round of clean-up that simply wasn’t done before this was shuffled onto plastic. Inception Media didn’t just leave it alone though, pushing forward with what is certainly an ancient DVD master. Nope, it was high time to slap a thick, mushy layer of DNR on top of it.
Natural film and nature’s beauty? Who needs it? The more complex the shot, the worse it looks. Trees are green mud, and aerials of the forest just blend all of the different aspects together. Colors bleed and fine detail isn’t a part of the program (anymore). Pans vertically lead to a subtle smearing, further breaking the image down into a sloppy, undefined mess.
Grain is never present short of a handful of shots taken above the clouds, and the encode does what it can to resolve the remnants of the high grade stock. Black levels prove exceptional, providing the darkness of night within the trees and making the creatures within stick out.
In close, when the camera is zoomed into the face of a bug or bird, this one isn’t all that bad. There is a modicum level of fine detail on display, and even a slightly natural air. Unfortunately, the feature spends most of its time gawking at tree lines, and that’s not something this manipulated transfer can handle with any accuracy.
Tropical Rainforest sounds like a screensaver from the ’90s, just lavished up with a few extra speakers. There’s a constant barrage and presence of sounds from animals, birds to insects, swelling up in the surrounds. There’s a never a sense that you’ve left, short of those moments where you’re too far above the trees to pick up on the smaller noises.
Logging operations utilize the stereos in case the surrounds were all you were noticing, trees falling side to side. Missing in action is any low-end support, trunks landing without much oomph. Even engines from various vehicles don’t register anything.
The immersion is limited due to the narration though, which almost seems to be intruding on the experience. It’s calming with a sense of being there until someone opens their mouth to pull the viewer out. That’s not a flaw of this DTS-HD track or the feature itself, more of a mild annoyance.
The only extras are a baker’s dozen smorgasbord of IMAX trailers.
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