Slingshot Entertainment // 2002 // 45 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Chief Justice Michael Stailey // February 20th, 2003
The most breathtaking cinematography ever filmed within our National Parks
Our lives have become incredibly homogenized. On a daily basis, many of us leave our cracker box, high rise apartments or condos and cookie cutter, well-manicured subdivision homes, marching off to our monotonous careers, eating at the same chain restaurants, shopping at the same chain stores, and vacationing at the same tourist traps. Tragically, we often fail to open our eyes and realize this country of ours is teaming with unappreciated natural beauty and diversity.
Cinematographer David Fortney has done us tremendous service by capturing some of the most amazing visuals of life within our National Parks. From mountains, forests, and deserts to rivers, lakes, and oceans, these National treasures are beautiful to behold. Fortney's mix of aerial, still, and time lapse photography transport us from the comfort of our living rooms to Death Valley to witness the passing of a thunderstorm, to Joshua Tree where we marvel at the age old rock formations, to Redwood where the majesty of its resident trees dwarf all other surroundings, to the Grand Canyon where the hand of mother nature herself has carved indescribable artwork over thousands of years. Our 45 minute journey takes us through 18 different National Parks -- Arches, Banff, Bryce, Canyonlands, Death Valley, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Jasper, Joshua Tree, Olympic, Pt. Lobos, Redwood, Salt Point, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion -- each with its own unique and distinct architecture and splendor. This is a trip everyone can and should experience, granting us a much needed perspective that we are merely one small part of something much larger, grander, and more important.
The 1.33:1 full frame presentation is visually impressive with crisp digital imagery and colors exploding from the screen. There are moments when the natural light refracts off Fortney's lens creating geometric distractions, but only briefly and in limited instances. In addition, there are a couple flashes of dirt or camera distortion, enough to attract attention of the eye but again only for a brief moment. Audibly, the Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is appreciatively lush. However, Patrick O'Hearn's techno-synthetic score, albeit impressive, at times seems heavy handed and out of place. Having listened to it several times through, it does grow on you, but I wonder if a more orchestral underscore would have made more of an impression. One other note -- the soundtrack actually appears on the second of two audio tracks. In other words, when my player read the disc, there was no sound. Only by pressing the audio select button on my remote, switching to the English Audio 2, did the music come through. My guess is there must have been a glitch in the disc's encoding.
In terms of bonus features, Slingshot has included a captioning function to highlight which park the imagery is from, an automated gallery of stills from each of the parks, a series of regional maps showcasing the location of each park, and contact information for you to learn more. All in all, an informative and impressive presentation -- although the disc loses some marks for minor technical oversights.
For nature lovers and travel enthusiasts, Timeless...A National Parks Odyssey is a must see. If you haven't already visited several of these parks, you will after watching this. This disc would also make an excellent resource for educators. Its short but inspiring imagery may well awaken a new generation of explorers within children who might not otherwise have been exposed to the majestic and diverse landscapes our country has to offer. There is a world of astonishment and adventure awaiting those willing to take the road less traveled.
Review content copyright © 2003 Michael Stailey; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Slingshot Entertainment
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 45 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Digital Stills Automated Slideshow Gallery
* Regional Maps Highlighting National Park Locations
* Directory Featuring Phone Numbers and Web Sites for National Parks
* National Parks Service