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Our story takes place in the U.S. and Canada, countries whose military are frequently called upon to support humanitarian crises. In the U.S., the USAF maintains and operates a large fleet of unusually equipped cargo aircraft, the C-17, originally designed to move troops and huge military assets to remote parts of the battlefield in support of combat troops.
For more about Rescue 3D and the Rescue 3D Blu-ray release, see Rescue 3D Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on February 2, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Stephen Low
» See full cast & crew
Rescue 3D Blu-ray Review
Help is on the way.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, February 2, 2013
It's become a kind of sadly commonplace cliché to hear the phrase "the first responders were running toward [insert name of catastrophe here] while everyone else was running away." It's become such a facile description that many times we don't stop to actually think about those who regularly risk their own lives in order to save someone else's. It almost seems easier to easily grasp the sacrifices made by our armed forces in any number of trouble spots around the globe than it is to comprehend the regular dangers that some of our friends and neighbors do in their everyday jobs. When I was a little boy growing up in Salt Lake City, our next door neighbor was a fireman, something I thought was incredibly "cool", especially when Jack took me down to the firehouse and let me sit in the fire engine and "drive". But that all changed one day when I was outside in my front yard playing and saw him return from what must have been a four alarm fire. Still in his heavy work gear and covered head to toe with thick black soot, he looked like a man returning from a war zone, and for the young boy that I was, it was an absolutely shocking sight. Suddenly I realized that all was not "glamorous" in a career like that, and that's perhaps even more obvious to people nowadays, what with the glut of reality programming like Cops that helps (in its own often patently low life way) to show the rigors and trials that those who have sworn to protect us go through on a daily basis. Rescue 3D is a fairly compelling entry in the ever expanding IMAX canon that gets us up close and personal with a handful of these intrepid souls who have answered what many would agree is a higher calling. While this 45 minute or so feature simply doesn't have the running time to really explore any of the participants' stories in any great depth, we get enough context and background information to quickly understand the basics about each of them, and then we're offered an often breathtaking view of them in their work environments.
IMAX features often little snippets of this or that, whether they're travelogues, history lessons, or, in the case of Rescue 3D, quasi-biographical with action elements. The opening few minutes of pre-credits information therefore gives us quick glimpses of the four people around whom most of this documentary is fashioned. There's Canadian Forces Commander Peter R. Crain, who we initially see attempting to "park" his huge destroyer Athabaskan at a dock, but who turns out to be a bulwark against the increasing threat of Somali pirates; National Guard Major Matt Jonkey, who pilots a helicopter that helps to rescue stranded boaters, but who is a man who ironically never learned to swim himself; and Air Force Captain Lauren Ann Ross, whose piloting skills are put to the test in pinpoint delivery of items like food and medical supplies to disaster areas; and FEMA volunteer firefighter Stephen Heicklen, who finds more fulfillment and (obviously) excitement in this aspect of his life than in his workaday construction job.
It can't be denied that often times these IMAX features seem just a little contrived, but one could have hardly foreseen the disaster that director Stephen Low is able to exploit in Rescue 3D once the heroes are introduced and we've had a little chance to see them going through their paces. Early in 2010 a hugely devastating earthquake struck the island of Haiti, reigning destruction down on a tropical island that had already had its share of economic and societal problems through the years. Some television viewers may remember some first hand narratives of those who experienced this traumatic event in such shows as I Survived, but Low and his team offer a visually disturbing but incredibly visceral look at just how destructive the earthquake and its many aftershocks actually were.
There unfortunately isn't any commentary on this disc which might have clarified the "serendipity" (if that's anything approaching the right word, given the circumstances of this awful event) that brought the four heroes together on one rescue mission (there are some hints given in the interviews accompanying the main feature as this disc's sole supplement). What I'm personally assuming happening is that either filming was underway with one of the participants and Low met the others in Haiti and did a kind of "backwards" assembly job of then getting more information on the other participants, or in fact met all four of the main focal points in Haiti and then put everything together with all of them, again in a "backwards" formulation. One way or the other, the final narrative flow of Rescue 3D works surprisingly well, and it in fact does not feel overly contrived in any way, shape or form.
The sheer scope of the disaster in Haiti gives Rescue 3D a frighteningly visceral quality, especially since the cameras are there little more than a day after the main earthquake hit. Some of the aerial shots are breathtaking (not in a good way), with seemingly miles of toppled homes and buildings and two plaintive carvings of "Help" etched into a hilltop field. Once we get down to ground level, things aren't necessarily any easier to take, for there are fires, people trapped beneath the rubble, and just a calamitous amount of injured civilians (including a lot of children) who are struggling to stave off infections which run rampant in such temperate and humid climates.
Like a lot of IMAX offerings, there are going to be some viewers who will be wishing we could have had more information about the various participants, and perhaps more of a "happy ending" vis a vis their attempts in Haiti. But Rescue 3D instantly becomes one of the few quasi-"ripped from the headlines" documentaries that the IMAX format has ever offered the viewing public.
Rescue 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality
Rescue 3D is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Image Entertainment with both MVC (3D) and AVC (2D) encoded 1080p transfers in 1.78:1. As is typically the case with these large format IMAX features, the Blu-ray offers stupendously sharp and clear imagery, with really stellar depth of field in the many, many exterior shots that feature wide vistas. Colors are extremely well saturated and accurate looking, and even regular bugaboos like heavy foliage or water whipped into a frenzy by helicopter rotors resolve effortlessly without any stability issues whatsoever. Close-ups provide extremely crystalline fine detail.
The 3D imagery is, as should be expected, similarly amazing, to the point that it may actually bother some more sensitive eyes (I am one of those people who was often unable to deal with the older 3D technology, which frequently gave me massive headaches, and even the "new, improved" 3D sometimes plays havoc with my depth perception and vision). I personally have some problems when objects are thrust directly out toward the viewer (see screenshot 6, where the tether holding the basket seems to jump straight out from the screen in the 3D version), and some of those elements actually made my eyes water they're so vivid. Depth of field is routinely excellent throughout this presentation, even in less "showy" moments. For example, a scene set inside the cockpit clearly gives us delineated planes of depth, including in one instance the cockpit windshield obviously well in front of the people inside the cockpit. My setup and display encountered no crosstalk issues whatsoever, but I am still subtracting half a point due to the extremely aggressive placement of some of these "foreground" objects which some viewers may have issues with.
Rescue 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Rescue 3D features incredibly aggressive and immersive lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mixes in English, French and Spanish. From the first moment, when we hear a helicopter rotor clearly panning through the soundfield, this mix offers sterling fidelity and near constant use of the surround channels. Later there's some truly awesome LFE courtesy of the "big guns" aboard the destroyer that plays a central role in the documentary. There are some low rumbling foley effects added to the first scenes of Haiti which may remind some older viewers of that long ago sonic gimmick Sensurround. The only niggling complaint with this mix is that sometimes the mix tends to just slightly bury the onscreen dialogue beneath the onslaught of sound effects and (more occasionally) score, but that's a very minor complaint given the general robustness of this excellently rendered audio.
Rescue 3D Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Rescue 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Rescue 3D is one of the best IMAX features I've personally seen in quite a while. The "pre-Haiti" footage gives us brief but compelling anecdotal information about the four main participants, so that by the time the earthquake hits, we have a better understanding of what each of them brings to the table. The Haiti footage is simply daunting and breathtaking in equal measure, but it also brings home what incredible heroes people like the rescuers portrayed in this piece really are. As with virtually all Blu-rays of IMAX films, this one features stellar video and audio, and even without copious supplementary material, Rescue 3D comes Highly recommended.
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Rescue 3D Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Rescue 3D Blu-ray - September 21, 2012
Image Entertainment is bringing Rescue 3D to Blu-ray. The 46-minute documentary follows first responders through rigorous training at sea, in the air and by land as they learn the grueling task of saving the lives of those who fall victim to natural disasters. ...
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