I’m a bit of an IMAX junkie. Long before it became the home of blockbuster action/adventure movies, IMAX screens were usually found in science and natural history museums. (The first permanent IMAX theatre opened in 1986.) They were places to be wowed by breathtaking landscapes, seascapes, and even moonscapes visited vicariously through movie magic. The giant IMAX screen with all its extraordinary depth and the realistic sound coming from the complex of speakers placed around the theatre created an immersive experience, whether or not displayed in 3D.
The earliest “IMAX Experience” films were often nature documentaries; the IMAX cameras seem made for letting us experience the awesome power of nature and the intimate peeks into the tiniest life forms inhabiting the planet. Although not one of the earliest IMAX films, 1992's Tropical Rainforest, to be released by Inception Media Group on Blu-ray July 12, is a still fairly early entry.
The 38-minute film, directed by Ben Shedd and narrated by Geoffrey Holder features music by Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Taking viewers into the rainforests of Australia, Costa Rica, French Guiana and Malaysia, Tropical Rainforest presents a natural history of the rainforest ecosystem from their prehistoric to the threat deforestation poses to Planet Earth.
The IMAX camera beautifully captures the color and complexity of these fragile ecosystems, and the transfer to Blu-ray is excellent, from the fine detail of a spider’s web and the spots on a tiny insect to the sheer power of gigantic waterfalls. Newly remastered from the original IMAX film elements, Tropical Rainforest is presented in 16x9 widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1; audio is in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1.
The varied green hues of the rainforest’s plant life come across vibrantly as do the brightly-colored animals and insects. The colors on the Blu-ray transfer came across as saturated and rich on my high-def television. The film is beautiful to look at. The sound is crisp and immersive. Whether you are listening the chirping of a tiny tree frog or the thunderous roar of a tree felled by a logger’s chain saw, the sound is crisp and realistic.