IMAX - 1.44:1
Written by: Simon Campbell-Jones
Directed by: Ben Shedd
Starring: Geoffrey Holder (narration)
Released through Lumivision, Tropical Rainforest was one of the very DVD software titles available in the United States. Narrated by Geoffrey Holder (whom you might remember from Live and Let Die or his 7-Up commercials), Tropical Rainforest tries to take you on a 400 million year historical lesson, from the time when the rainforests first appeared on Earth to the problems that plague its existence this very day. Evolution is discussed, the diversity of species over millions of years is explored, and some scientific exploration is also examined. Unfortunately, while the subject matter seems like it might be fairly interesting, Tropical Rainforest just isn't one of the better IMAX presentations out there. Although some animal life is covered, most of what you see during this 38m21s program is nothing but trees, leaves, branches, and even more trees. Additionally, Holder's narration is just awful, both from a written and presentation standpoint. The narration that it literally being "preached" to you is almost entirely without substance, and the phrasing and timing of Holder's speech seems aimed more towards a five-year-old. In any event, don't blame the good folks over at Lumivision - the program content is solely the fault of the original IMAX production crew.
Lumivision's DVD transfer of Tropical Rainforest unfortunately leaves a bit to be desired. Originally filmed in the 70mm IMAX process which has an aspect ratio of 1.44:1, Tropical Rainforest appears slightly cropped on the DVD. This is definitely no big deal, since the difference between your 1.37:1 TV and the 1.44:1 IMAX original is completely negligible. The only real problem is with the transfer of the material, which comes across as being generally soft (i.e., "blurry"), although a couple of scenes here and there look better. The colors are very vivid, and we noticed some mild "shimmering" on some of the finer picture details (this "anti-aliasing" is a problem that occurs with fine edges on ALL TV sets...it is not a problem with the transfer). Some minor artifacts are noticeable during a few fades to and from black.
Tropical Rainforest contains a single, English 6-channel Dolby Digital 5.1 surround stereo soundtrack, and it sounds great. As with all IMAX productions, the mix does the most it can, and the DVD brings the sounds of the rainforest into your home viewing environment.
The DVD does not contain subtitles and is not closed-caption encoded.
The interactive menu functions for Tropical Rainforest allows for a selection of chapters. Selections of the 22 chapters are done through text descriptions spread across a 2-frame index (each frame features 11 chapter selections).
Tropical Rainforest is "Available Worldwide," which means that it contains no regional coding and will play on any player in any country. This DVD is also compatible with DVD-ROM drives for use on appropriately-equipped multimedia computer systems. Lumivision has foregone the cardboard & plastic "keep case" packaging all the other studios employ, and instead uses a nice, standard, compact disc-type "jewel box." The four-page booklet contains a listing of all 22 chapter markers and a listing of upcoming Lumivision titles.
Review by Jeff Krispow
Original Review: 06/02/97
Last Updated: 08/22/97