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From IMAX nature docs comes a wildly entertaining look at some adorable orphaned elephants and orangutans living with their human caretakers in 'Born to Be Wild.' The 3D Blu-ray delivers a spectacular, demo-worthy 3D presentation and excellent audio. Supplements are the same as on the film's 2D counterpart, but the overall package makes the purchase worth every penny just for the video alone.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
'Born to Be Wild' makes its way to 3D Blu-ray with a stunning and absolutely gorgeous MVC-encoded transfer, taking its already-impressive 2D counterpart to another level of enjoyment. Coming from IMAX filmmakers, this shouldn't as come as much of a surprise since most all their nature docs tend to look extraordinary in high definition. And their latest release is sure to please anyone watching this for the first time. Pick any scene at random and home-theater enthusiasts are guaranteed a striking, reference-quality 3D image with the kind of wow-factor we'd expect of the format.
Slightly cropped from its original 1.44:1 aspect ratio to fit 16:9 screens at home, the picture is razor-sharp from beginning to end and as close to perfection as could be imagined. Literally, the lines on leaves and trees are plainly defined and resolute for the movie's full 40-minute run. Individual hairs on the human caretakers, the orangutans and on the top of the baby elephants' heads are very distinct. Even the tiny wrinkles and textures around the eyes of the adorable animals are amazingly detailed and lifelike. Contrast is spot-on and pitch-perfect, giving the video a startling pop and vividness that shines beautifully through the darkened glasses. Black levels are not quite as deep and rich as I would like, but even this aspect of the image doesn't disappoint with appreciable gradations that add to the video's overall dimensionality. Colors are richly-saturated and full-bodied, especially in the sumptuous primaries which wonderfully bring the surrounding foliage to life.
Shot natively in digital 3D, 'Born to Be Wild' will likely rank as one of the most breathtaking 3D presentations released on Blu-ray yet. What 'Sammy's Adventures' does for CG animation on this format, IMAX short doc does for live-action movies. Extending deep into the screen with incredible clarity of the smallest details, depth is second-to-none with a genuine feel of distance and space. Better yet, it's consistent throughout. Whether we're watching an orangutan swinging on a branch with its friends watching in the background or peeking just above the grass line while baby elephants play on an open field, separation is absolutely marvelous and jaw-dropping. Several scenes show animals or other random objects in the center of the screen protruding with astonishing realism, almost as if tempting viewers to reach out and touch the loveable creatures.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Adding to the amazing 3D experience is a marvelous DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Employing as much of the rear soundscape as is possible for such a short doc, ambient effects abound from start to finish, enveloping the listener with the numerous sounds of wildlife. Birds can be heard singing in the far distance, the wind blows through the leaves high above your head, and random flying bugs often buzz all around. The whoops and hollers of other apes and monkeys also ring and echo throughout the rainforest, terrifically pulling viewers into this very simple story on the well-being of endangered animals. There are even moments when the small stampeding elephants seem to run all around, their hoofs stomping on the ground as they run behind you. In a few instances, the lossless mix feels a bit forced and exaggerated, but not often enough to be terribly distracting.
In the front soundstage, the high-rez track continues to impress with brilliant fidelity and a pleasingly spacious imaging. Channel separation is well-balanced, displaying lots of activity and fluid panning between speakers. Vocals remain crisp and precise amid the noise so that viewers remain engage and hear the devoted words of these admirable women. The design is surprisingly dynamic and extensive with plenty of clean highs that never distort. The sounds of the rainforest, from the drips of water to the cracks of a falling tree, fill the entire screen with detailed clarity that's as often startling as the video. The low-end doesn't pack a heavy punch, but it's appropriate with considerable response, giving the music and the stomps of the elephants some appreciable weight.
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