Inception Media Group // 1991 // 38 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 12th, 2011
Volcanoes are scary.
Is there anything more terrifying to young children than volcanoes? Other than getting trapped in a discarded refrigerator of course. I remember reading a book about volcanoes when I was in like second grade and being scared out of my wits. There were pictures of villages that had been devastated by lava, and my tiny mind that had yet to comprehend the topography of Central New York feared that the Leatherstocking Region in general, and my house on Culver Court in Utica specifically, was smack in the middle of ground zero for the next eruption.
The march of Blu-ray resuscitated IMAX nature films continues with Ring of Fire a 38-minute look at that most nightmarish of natural phenomena. The film gets all up into the grills of volcanoes, the cameras capturing bubbling, frothing magma, billowing smoke belched from mountain orifices and the slow, malevolent creep of lava.
At just a shade north of thirty minutes, the documentary won't explore every facet of volcanology, but there's enough info to get you started on your quest for more information. The film jumps from volcano hot zones like Japan, Chile, Indonesia, the Philippines, China and...(gulp)...the US, and weaves in interviews with geologists and researchers to offer supplemental intel.
The meat of these IMAX presentations is, of course, the visuals. And few occurrences in the natural world offer as much visceral fury as a volcano doing its thing. Violent, intense and unpredictable, the action from a full-scale volcanic eruption provides as much visual juice as anything else the gods feel like raining down upon us mortals. The cameras capture all angles as well, from the pull-back shots establishing the majesty of the spewing smoke and ash to how-did-they-get-that footage of the interior of the volcanic rim, where all the magic happens.
On Blu-ray, the savage imagery pops, though it's not quite as impressive as similar nature documentaries. Perhaps it's the age of the production (originally released in 1991), but the 1.78:1 resurfacing just doesn't quite wow me as it should. It's certainly a serviceable transfer, but could have been a lot more detailed and robust. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track throbs (the LFE resonates during the eruptions) but there is only an IMAX trailer reel for extras.
No-nonsense lava death = Not Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Inception Media Group
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (French)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (Spanish)
Running Time: 38 Minutes
Release Year: 1991
MPAA Rating: Not Rated