Something smells fishy around here…
Okay, there's this fish named Vito, who came to this country after his mother and father were killed by a local thug. He falls in with a small time crook and grows up to the head of the five fish families in New York. No wait, that's The Godfather I think. Oh yeh, I'm supposed to be doing a review of Coral Sea Dreaming.
Coral Sea Dreaming is one those 'cool images and spacey music' type DVDs that are becoming relatively common these days it seems. DVD provides a great vehicle for such stuff, with the capability of providing much better sound and images than video, as well as chapter access and such. This DVD doesn't really make a lot of use of the format, but it certainly has cool images and spacey music.
Coral Sea Dreaming's cool images are of, surprise, life on a Coral reef. In this case, its the Great Barrier Reef. The DVD is split into 16 chapters, which are:
1. Open Titles
The opening scene was a little iffy. It's all about coral's mating, and there are more eggs and sperm in the air than I care to think about. Now I like a good porno as much as the next guy, but there's something vaguely disconcerting about watching the only orgy visible from space, ya know? And something really grosses me out about the images of those little eggs oozing out of the pores in each colony.
So then I'm looking at the chapter list and seeing titles like "Nudibranchs" and "Big Ones," and I'm thinking that I'm really in for a night of aquatic erotica. But, thankfully, it doesn't go in that direction. The rest of the material is basically just really beautiful images and soft music. You might find it difficult to last more than a chapter or two before you are sawing logs.
My personal favorites were the Coral Gardens and Anemonefish sections. Being a software engineer with a passing interest in computer graphics, I'm always amazed at bright, shiny things. Some of the textures and colors in these sections are frankly stunning. I could just stare at them for quite a while. Oh wait, I *did* stare at them for quite a while, so I guess it worked. The variety and saturation of the colors just boggles the mind. You have to wonder what psychotropic the creator was doing on that day.
The image quality is, in all the parts I managed to stay awake for, very good. Its obvious that this isn't just stock footage from Jacques Cousteau thrown together for a few bucks. It seems to have been purposefully filmed for this DVD, and the 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer appears to be pretty well done. With images of this complexity, there would be plenty of room to trip up and get lots of artifacts, but I didn't really notice many.
The soundtrack is Dolby Digital, but for the most part it seems to just echo the front L/R channels to the surround L/R. This does of course thicken up the sound quite a bit, but it doesn't really give the kind of sense of ambience that could have been provided with some more creative use of the surrounds. But, the quality is good enough and, if you like trance music, its definitely trancey.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Other than the anamorphic video and Dolby soundtrack, this disc does not make much effort to be exploitative of the DVD format. It has a menu to select the chapters, and that's it. I'm not sure what else it needs, but I certainly think that an informative commentary track that indicated what it is we are seeing would have added a lot to the value of this disc.
If you are into stuff like Earthlight and such, this is another in that genre. Its not something that you might necessarily buy, unless you are really into reef diving or oceanography I guess. I like it myself, since it makes nice background music to read to, or something to trance out to as the night wears on and sleepy time is approaching. Its pretty bare bones, if its the bones that make you moan, then I guess its good enough.
Acquitted, because…well because it would be hard incarcerate a coral reef I think.
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