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Haunted Sideshow

Dustin Putman

Wonders of the Arctic  (2014)

(4K Ultra HD Blu-ray – 2014 – Running Time: 41:41)
Reviewed for by Dustin Putman

The Film
2.5 Stars
(Release Date: September 13, 2016) – Directed by David Lickley, "Wonders of the Arctic" is an immersive but somewhat slight documentary short focusing on human research into global warming and climate change as it pertains to Nunavut, the northernmost and least populace territory of Canada. As scientists continue to measure the thickness of the ice which blankets much of this Canadian Arctic Archipelago, the film tours the area and the animals (both above and below the snow-covered surface) which reside in this remote area of the world. A deeper dive would have been welcome (the film runs only 41 minutes and seems much shorter than this), but the observations of this location—one which will be mysterious and foreign to most viewers—are fascinating. A brief sequence set on Halloween in Nunavut, capturing trick-or-treaters going door to door across a snowy, rural landscape, strikes as so moody and unusual one cannot help but wish for an entire film exploring the celebration of holidays in this region. That isn't the film "Wonders of the Arctic" is, but it might be a novel topic for a future IMAX feature.

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

"Wonders of the Arctic" trudges onto 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with a 1.78:1, 2160p transfer courtesy of Shout! Factory that is often striking, particularly in the segments above the ice. Requiring a 4K UHD Blu-ray player and 4K television, the film provides the option to view the film in High Dynamic Range (requiring a High Dynamic Range-enabled TV) or Standard Dynamic Range. Naturally, the former is the preferred version, offering a bold range of colors and the kind of fine detail, clarity and depth that makes every snow-drenched vision jump off the screen. Less impressive are the underwater scenes. Due to the icy surfaces and low-light conditions, notable banding occurs, most egregiously seen for an extended period as the camera follows a beluga whale. Faint vertical lines can also been seen in darker moments, perhaps a result of the IMAX lenses being used. So much of this UHD transfer is flawless that its minor trouble spots stand out all the more. Make no mistake, though: this is still a visual stunner. A regular HD Blu-ray disc, a 3D version and Digital Copy are also included for those without a 4K UHD setup. The English Dolby Atmos track rumbles with propulsive bass and a vibrancy within its mix, ensuring neither the narration and dialogue nor the music threaten to eclipse each other.

Blu-ray Features
  • FEDNAV Corporate Video (2:27, UHD)
  • Trailers:
    • The Last Reef (1:35, UHD)
    • Wonders of the Arctic (1:41, UHD)
    • Rocky Mountain Express (1:26, UHD)
    • Journey to Space (1:06, UHD)
    • Humpback Whales (1:53, UHD)
    • Flight of the Butterflies (1:10, UHD)
Bottom Line
"Wonders of the Arctic" is environmentally conscious without becoming overwrought or pontifical. As a short-form documentary, it is over a little too briskly to dive deeply into its subject, but as a glimpse into this Arctic North Canadian region it proves enticing and rather unique. Shout! Factory's embrace of the new gorgeous 4K UHD format should be applauded and embraced (and, for those who do not have 4K capabilities, a Blu-ray disc is also wisely included). Highly recommended.

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© 2016 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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