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Site created 12/15/97.


reviews added: 5/9/01



Warner's IMAX Trio

reviews by Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits


The Dream is Alive


The Dream is Alive (IMAX)
1985 (2001) - IMAX (Warner)

Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A/D-

Specs and Features:

36 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, IMAX trailer, film-themed menu screens with sound effects, scene access (none), languages: English & French (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, Closed Captioned



Blue Planet

Blue Planet (IMAX)
1990 (2001) - IMAX (Warner)

Film Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A/D-

Specs and Features:

42 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, IMAX trailer, film-themed menu screens with sound effects, scene access (none), languages: English & French (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, Closed Captioned



T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous

T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous (IMAX)
1998 (2001) - IMAX (Warner)

Film Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A/C

Specs and Features:

44 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, "making of" featurette, theatrical trailer, IMAX trailer, film-themed menu screens with sound effects, scene access (none), languages: English, French & Spanish (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, Closed Captioned



One of the cool things about viewing IMAX films on DVD, is that you can generally expect an amazing visual experience, given the IMAX format's large, 70MM stock. Image Entertainment has released a number of cool IMAX titles in the last few years, including the terrific Super Speedway. But a title that's been notably missing is the ever-popular, space-themed The Dream is Alive. Thankfully, Warner Home Video recently acquired the home video rights to that IMAX classic, as well as Blue Planet and the new T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous. And they're now coming to a DVD player near you.

The Dream is Alive takes you on a series of typical space shuttle flights, from launch to landing. Filmed with the cooperation of NASA, by actual shuttle astronauts, the documentary treats you to amazing views of the Earth from space, and gives you a nice taste of what an actual flight might be like to experience. With footage taken during the STS-41C, G and D missions, you get to see astronauts training for a satellite rescue, and watch as they deploy various payloads and repair the damaged Solar Max satellite in orbit. Narrated by acclaimed journalist and space buff Walter Cronkite, The Dream is Alive is a feast for the eyes.

Blue Planet, on the other hand, turns the camera more toward the Earth itself, rather than concentrating simply on the experience of spaceflight. In stunning color and clarity, you'll see our planet like you've never seen it before... and even learn a thing or two about what we're doing to damage (and hopefully protect) the environment in the process. This film, and DVD, makes a nice companion to The Dream is Alive - I'd recommend watching them together as a double-feature.

T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous is a different animal altogether. It's actually intended to tell a narrative story, but it feels like a documentary in some parts (and an amusement park thrill ride in others). Part of the reason for that, is that it was originally intended to be shown in "thrilling IMAX 3D!" Thankfully or sadly (depending on your perspective - I'm not sure how I feel about it), the 3D effect has been abandoned for DVD (too bad it wasn't included as an alternate version on this disc, with a pair of 3D glasses included in the Snapper case). The cast features Peter Horton (from TV's thirtysomething) and newcomer Liz Stauber. She's studying a fossilized dino egg in a museum one day, when suddenly it cracks open and releases a mysterious gas, thus sending the poor girl into a psychedelic dream state (wherein she journeys back into the past to see live dinosaurs). The film is filled with typically cheesy "coming-at-you" 3D shots, which completely lose their impact in 2D. And Walking with Dinosaurs features much better looking CGI dinos. But hey... the flick is kinda fun for what it is. The kids will love it.

The video quality for all three of these titles is excellent. As expected with an IMAX source, the films are presented in the original full frame aspect ratio, with great detail, excellent contrast and color, and wonderful overall clarity. Very few print artifacts (dust, scratches, etc.) can be seen, and the only real strike against the video is that it might be just a little too crisp (meaning a little bit of unnecessary edge enhancement was used). But it's never distracting and, given the visuals you're going to see on these discs, I think most will be very happy.

The audio also really stands out on these discs. All have been remixed in very atmospheric Dolby Digital 5.1, and they really immerse you in the film environment. There are tons of little directional effects, and bass is thunderous. I've seen a space shuttle launch from about 3 miles away... and NOTHING can adequately represent the sky-tearing sound you hear on the ground as it races for orbit. But the audio mix on The Dream is Alive comes pretty close. This is very fun and dynamic Dolby Digital audio on DVD. All three discs include English 5.1, and T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous contains a Spanish 5.1 mix as well.

Extras on these discs are limited to an IMAX promotional trailer, although T-Rex also includes a short featurette on the making of the film and its own separate theatrical trailer. The discs don't even have chapter stops, which is a little bit bothersome. But they all do feature subtitle tracks in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese - not an extra but nice to have. And as light as these extras are, it really doesn't matter. The films themselves aren't longer than 45 minutes each, and the discs retail for only about $20 a piece anyway.

I'm just really happy to finally have The Dream is Alive on DVD, and Blue Planet and T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous are just icing on the cake. If you're into these films, you should be very happy with these DVDs. And if you're a spaceflight nut like Walter and me, don't miss The Dream is Alive. Unless you're an astronaut, or you've got a space $20 million to book a flight on a Russian rocket, this is probably as close as you're going to get to space. But let me tell you, if I get my hands on $20 million... I am SO there.

Bill Hunt
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com



The Dream is Alive (IMAX)


Blue Planet (IMAX)


T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous (IMAX)


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