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Planet Ocean captures extraordinary images of our remarkable oceans – the source of all life on our planet. Filmed by directors Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Michael Pitiot, along with an outstanding team of international underwater cinematographers in partnership with OMEGA and with the scientific support of Tara Expeditions. The film aims to explain some of the planet’s greatest natural mysteries, while reinforcing how essential it is that mankind learns to live in harmony with our oceans. Planet Ocean serves as a reminder of the bond between humans and nature, and the duty that exists to protect and respect our planet.
For more about Planet Ocean and the Planet Ocean Blu-ray release, see Planet Ocean Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on April 6, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Narrator: Josh Duhamel
Directors: Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Michael Pitiot
» See full cast & crew
Planet Ocean Blu-ray Review
"Maybe our shared awareness will trigger a chain reaction and save our species..."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, April 6, 2013
Where will you find Planet Ocean? At the intersection of preachy and pretentious, right across the street from hopelessness and despair. More of an artfully shot indictment of humanity and a prelude to the climate change apocalypse than an effective documentary or convincing environmental platform piece, co-directors Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Michael Pitiot's admittedly unsettling film will do little to convert the unconverted. This is preach-to-the-choir documentary filmmaking at its simplest and most severe; a somber horror story paired with the faintest glimmer of hope that something could change our course, save the seas and, with them, mankind. "There are solutions," declare Bertrand and Pitiot at movie's end. Those solutions, though, are so radical and unlikely (at least in full) that Planet Ocean leaves you with a pointed sense of despondency. Not exactly the sort of inspiration that moves hearts and changes minds.
Problems arise from the outset. Josh Duhamel (solid actor, poor choice of narrator) struggles to convey the magnitude of Bertrand and Pitiot's message, and his voice, smooth and a tad sappy, lacks the sort of gravitas and weight that would pair more intuitively with the on-screen imagery. It doesn't help that the script he's been handed doesn't have allow him to inject any personal touch whatsoever. It has Bertrand and Pitiot's personal touches slathered all over it, but nothing of Duhamel, who essentially reads aloud as instructed, chewing on the gristle and fat that is his directors' overtly poetic, at-times hyperbolic narration. The ensuing rape of the seas photography is no better, favoring the blunt-object approach to beating an audience into submission rather than inviting them into a world they've never seen (or would prefer not to see).
To be clear, I don't take issue with the message at all. It's the method of its delivery that irritates me. Nothing about Planet Ocean is primed to convince anyone of anything they don't already think. There's no inventiveness here, revelations are strictly of the "it's worse than you thought" variety, and other documentaries have accomplished more with less, all by launching a two-pronged attack on apathy and denial. Bertrand and Pitiot devote very little screentime to the beauty and majesty of the oceans, and even less time to experts who might offer further insight into the problem and its solutions. Instead, the film repeats itself again and again and again, to the point of growing redundant and desensitizing. This Earth Day, stick with BBC's natural history documentaries; the BBC Natural History Unit filmmakers understand the balance between presenting the wonder of the seas and the efforts required to keep that wonder alive. To get people to change their ways, preserve those beautiful, fascinating seas, and give the planet a fighting chance, a documentary need only inspire and motivate, and Planet Ocean isn't the way to do either.
Planet Ocean Blu-ray, Video Quality
Largely comprised of upconverted footage and riddled with all sorts of issues, Universal's 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation could use a cleanup all its own. Treacherous macroblocking, severe banding and everything from unsightly ringing to significant aliasing, shimmering, video noise and other anomalies swarm the image from beginning to end. Again, much of it is inherent to the source, or rather sources, as the film was clearly assembled from numerous cameras, all of varying quality and resolution. Color and contrast is all over the place, black levels are often muted, fine detail is almost non-existent, edges are typically disrupted by halos, and only a handful of shots and scenes keep the presentation afloat in such deadly DVD waters.
Planet Ocean Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track doesn't have a lot to work with, but it handles everything thrown its way with class. The dull roar of industry, machinery and chugging boats relies heavily on the LFE channel, and when Duhamel isn't speaking, it flexes its muscle. Prioritization is less than subtle, though, and the soundfield is all but muzzled whenever he begins to talk. Likewise, when the seas are given their run of the place, the rear speakers do a fine job spreading the waves and winds around the listener. Directionality is rather imprecise, and dynamics aren't always up to snuff, but both are presumably the result of the film's sound design. Nothing more. All told, Planet Ocean sounds much better than it looks.
Planet Ocean Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The only extra included with Planet Ocean is a three-part "Making Of" featurette (SD, 14 minutes). Segments include "In the Skies Above Rio," "Underwater" and "Shanghai."
Planet Ocean Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Planet Ocean is heavy-handed, heavy-hearted and... well, just heavy all around. It's too pretentious and preachy for its own good, and too full of itself to notice. There's good information to be had, so long as you're able to sidestep the hopelessness and despair and walk away from the film feeling positive about what you can do to change the planet. Unfortunately, Universal's Blu-ray release isn't much better. Its solid DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track can't save the film from its mediocre video presentation or 14-minute supplemental package, neither of which help the documentary in any way. Pass this one by. There are other documentaries on the subject in the sea.
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Planet Ocean Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway: Planet Ocean - April 8, 2013
Blu-ray.com and Universal Studios Home Entertainment are offering three members a chance to win a copy of Planet Ocean, narrated by actor Josh Duhamel and directed by acclaimed photographer, filmmaker and environmentalist Yann Arthus-Bertrand. The oceanic documentary ...
• Planet Ocean Blu-ray - February 5, 2013
Universal Studios Home Entertainment is bringing directors Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Michael Pitiot's Planet Ocean to Blu-ray on April 13th. The documentary features a unique pool of researchers, oceanographers and biologists from several countries, and takes a ...
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