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Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D(2008)
'Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk' follows the great Colorado River as it reveals the most pressing environmental story of our time: the world's growing shortage of fresh water. Join environmental advocates Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Wade Davis as they set out with their daughters, traveling deep into the Grand Canyon and down the river that runs through it. Your pulse will quicken as you are invited to join this thrilling ride downriver through raging rapids and breathtaking canyons. With stunning photography and sweeping aerial shots the renowned filmmakers capture all the majesty of the Colorado and The Grand Canyon in the largest film format ever made.
For more about Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D and the Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D Blu-ray release, see Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on November 1, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Narrator: Robert Redford
Director: Greg MacGillivray
» See full cast & crew
Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D Blu-ray Review
Breathtaking imagery springs to life in this quality 3D release.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, November 1, 2010
If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.
Water is the most crucial element on the planet. It covers over two-thirds of the Earth's surface, comprises well over half of the human body, and is an essential ingredient for the survival of every life form in the world. With its great importance comes great responsibility in ensuring it not only remains, but thrives, in its natural environments around the world. Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk, narrated by Robert Redford, looks at the history, importance, and dwindling supply of water running through the Colorado River, located along the Southwestern portion of the United States. This 2008 picture, released in stunning IMAX 3D, plays as a fascinating tool meant to educate and inform; it's as much history, geography, and science lesson as it is cautionary environmental tale, and it's backed by passionate conservationists and, best of all, breathtakingly grand photography befitting a picture that's not only environmentally aware and important, but reflective of the natural beauty of the Grand Canyon and desert Southwest. Running at a brisk 45 minutes in length, Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk finds just the right balance that allows its message to be heard loudly and clearly without playing as too heavy-handed, all the while allowing its audience to bask in the natural glory of the world around them while at the same time leaving them with something to think about long after the picture and its gorgeous visuals have come to an end.
Director Greg MacGillivray's (Coral Reef Adventure) Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk brings attention to the dwindling water supplies around the world; the film highlights shrinking glaciers, the diminishing Lake Chad, and most central to the film's message, the disappearance of water from the Colorado River. Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk follows Author Wade Davis and a group of fellow conservationists -- Tara Davis, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Kick Kennedy -- as they traverse the river with guide Shana Watahomigie and explore the many ways in which it's changed over the years, and mostly for the worse. Though 75% of the river's water is derived from Rocky Mountain snow, the river's long, windy trek through dry desert lands -- not to mention the impact of the Hoover Dam; vanishing rainwaters and missed rainfall projections; global warming; and the need to supply human population centers with water, with emphasis on the consumption requirements of Las Vegas -- has impacted its volume and drastically lessened its water levels to the point that its Mexican delta, a once thriving haven for fisherman, has vanished. The film also examines what a lesser Colorado River will mean to future generations, the impact of wild and foreign vegetation along its banks, and the vanishing species that once lived in and around the Colorado. The film concludes with several tips that everyday viewers can integrate into their lives to help in the battle to conserve water.
If Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk sometimes seems like it allows its message to play as too heavy-handed, well, that's apparently the point of the film. At several junctures the rhythm of the picture's display of wondrous natural scenery is interrupted by sobering statistics, shocking imagery, and disheartening stories, but such is the picture's effective contrast that pits the natural beauty of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon area against the disappearance of water and the altering landscapes and ecosystems that's a result of the many damaging elements currently working against this vital natural resource. Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk certainly puts on a dazzling display of scenery -- about as much beauty and natural wonder as one can possibly imagine over a 45-minute runtime -- and the warnings about the possibility that future generations might not be afforded the same opportunity to enjoy it in-person strikes at the very heart of the experience. Fortunately, the film never becomes at all preachy or distastefully one-sided; the picture is a labor of love that wants only to bring attention to what the filmmakers perceive as a dangerous interruption to the environment while also sharing with its viewers the innate natural beauty of the area that only reinforces the need to make sure it doesn't disappear forever.
Still, what's best about Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk is that the movie holds up as pure eye candy that serves as something of an escape from the urban jungles and sprawl that seem to have all but erased much of the natural splendor of the world around man, at least in those areas in which he most commonly frequents. Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk is the sort of film one can watch with the lights low and the volume down and simply marvel at the natural beauty on display, for even those images of lessened and disturbed natural locales seem breathtakingly gorgeous next to that old dank alleyway and curvy highway system that sits outside the bedroom window or office cubicle. Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk is also, it would seem, a prime candidate to serve duty in any number of areas inside the classroom. As much about history as it is the present and future, as much about human geography as it is physical geography, and covering a wide swath of scientifically-based observations and studies, the film is far more than a cautionary environmental tale and a gorgeous slice of IMAX eye candy. Educators can rest assured that this film will hold student interest and spark a wide range of discussions, from the importance of water to every living organism on the planet to the recent debate over the validity of global warming itself.
Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality
Image Entertainment's Blu-ray release of Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D appears to be identical to the title's previous Blu-ray 3D region free German release. Comparing the two yielded the same quality 3D imagery, the same wonderful detailing, the same color schemes in various scenes, the same "ghosting" issues at several checkpoints, and similar bitrate fluctuations during several sampled comparison scenes. That said, this is still one of the finest Blu-ray 3D titles on the marketplace, live action or animated. Detailing is faultless throughout; the various rock formations, cliff faces, sand and dirt terrain, and even rafts and human faces reveal lifelike texturing and clarity with every passing shot. Colors, too, are pristinely reproduced; though earthen hues -- shades of brown, yellow, and green -- dominate the image and appear incredibly rich and lifelike, the transfer handles more aggressive hues, such as blues and reds seen on clothing and rafts, with equal precision. Both the wonderful detailing and accurate colors bring this transfer to life in a way that's rarely matched by the best Blu-ray discs, be they 2D or 3D. With striking blacks, accurate flesh tones, no source anomalies such as speckling or scratching, and only minimal banding, Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D looks fantastic, and the generally amazing 3D visuals only make this disc even better.
Even from the main menu, viewers will get a glimpse as to the quality of this 3D presentation. A water bubble appears to hover off the screen -- and at a relatively great distance at that -- effectively setting the stage for the screen-stretching visuals that are to follow. Indeed, Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk is a playground for high definition 3D brought to gloriously rich and perceptibly deep life. There's plenty of opportunities for the film to seemingly splash water into the living room and capture the unique rock formations and various environmental curiosities with lifelike precision, and never, in that regard, does the transfer let its audience down. By film's end, 3D viewers will feel like they've been on the adventure down the Colorado and leave the experience everything but wet. The transfer delivers the natural wonders with a clear and perceptible sense of depth that must be seen to be believed, and it would seem that the Colorado and the Grand Canyon were the perfect testing grounds to prove Blu-ray 3D's worth. Unfortunately, the image suffers from moderate-to-heavy "ghosting" effects; everything from tree branches to individual blades of grass are sometimes displayed with that dreaded "double image" that's easily the most visible and annoying flaw of these early 3D titles and television sets. The ghosting effect appears to be heavier here than most any of the other 3D discs released to date -- save for Dinosaurs Alive! -- but the sheer quality of the remainder of the transfer almost makes up for it. Additionally, several objects appear almost transparent as a result of some of the most egregious ghosting, but such blatantly heavy and obvious double images are the exception rather than the rule. No doubt about it, some viewers will be turned off by the relatively heavy amount of ghosting, but it's hard to ignore how deep the picture looks and how finely detailed and precisely colored it appears in high-def 3D. Fortunately, it's good qualities far more often than not outweigh the bad. Please note that all screenshots were captured from the 2D presentation found on Image Entertainment's 3D release.
Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The English language DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack found on this U.S. release of Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D seems to be same used on the aforementioned and previously reviewed German release; note that this U.S. disc ditches the lossless German track found on that nation's release and replaces it with a 5.1 lossy French language option. As to the English lossless track, it's a winner. The picture opens with dialogue that seems to bounce around the walls of the Grand Canyon, and, by extension, the listening area; the disc delivers a nicely-realized echoing effect as the words seem to float about the soundstage and emanate from every speaker in the set-up. In fact, the track delivers plenty of surround information through both the more nuanced sound effects of the natural environment coming alive around the Colorado River and the most potent and engaging effects of powerful water rushing through the speakers. The Dave Matthews score sounds incredibly crisp and smooth, also with a good rear-channel support element but dominated by a flowing, spacious front-half presentation. The low end enjoys a bit of action during the most powerful of scenes that feature rushing water pounding through the listening area. Additionally, dialogue is consistently sharp and clean as it's delivered effortlessly from the center channel. Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D sounds just as good as it looks, and this lossless track makes the ultimate sonic companion to a gorgeous video presentation.
Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This U.S. release of Grand Canyon Adventure features a few extras, some of which were offered on the German release and some of which were not. Among the repeat features is Making Of (480p, 33:42), a supplement that runs two-thirds the length of the film but covers a nice bit of information, including -- and most fascinatingly -- the difficult process of shooting with complex and very heavy and delicate IMAX 3D cameras in the rough terrain around the Grand Canyon and the raging waters up and down the Colorado River. Also crossing over is the music video Water sung by Tara (480p, 4:06) and Sample the Film Soundtrack (1080p) which allows listeners to hear clips from The Dave Matthews Band's Grand Canyon Railway and Lava Falls. New to this disc is A Message from Teva that contains several comical video clips entitled The Naturist (1080p, 5:56), featuring a bumbling outdoorsman demonstrating survival techniques in nature; Water Saving Tips from Kohler! (1080p, 2:51); and About the Director Greg MacGillivray (1080p), a text-based biography and filmography of the film's director. Trailershow contains previews for a plethora of IMAX features: The Alps, Dinosaurs Alive!, Grand Canyon Adventure, Hurricane on the Bayou, Journey Into Amazing Caves, Mummies, Ride Around the World, Volcanoes of the Deep Sea, Super Speedway, Fighter Pilot, Amazon, The Living Sea, Dolphins, Coral Reef Adventure, Magic of Flight, and Van Gogh. BD-Live functionality is also included.
Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk is a breathtakingly-filmed IMAX 3D presentation that abounds with gorgeous photography of some of the Earth's most precious natural resources and locales. The film also delivers something of a cautionary commentary on the current state of the Colorado River and surrounding areas, warning that the dwindling water supply has altered the ecosystem and that future generations may not be able to enjoy its natural beauty or reap the rewards of a healthy, vibrant natural environment. Though the message sometimes overwhelms the imagery, that juxtaposition only reinforces the film's message and seems to make it all the more timely, particularly considering that the latest in 3D and high definition technology only further enhance the natural wonders of the area and deliver the next-best sensation to actually being there. This 3D Blu-ray release of Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk looks fantastic, and even moderate-to-heavy ghosting can't diminish how effective the 3D presentation is and how crisp and detailed the image appears. Supported by a few good extras and a high quality lossless soundtrack, this Blu-ray release of Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk deserves a spot in every 3D Blu-ray collection. Highly recommended.
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