Blu-Ray Review: Disney Nature’s ‘Oceans,’ ‘The Crimson Wing’

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CHICAGO – Nature films used to be much more common in the days before basic cable. Believe it or not young ones, there was a time before the interwebs and Discover Health when you couldn’t see nature at work outside of museums or a trip to the Antarctic. Rebooting the genre has been a remarkably profitable endeavor for Disney Nature as 2009’s “Earth” made $107 million worldwide and 2010’s “Oceans,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD followed with $68 million. Blu-Ray Rating: 3.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.0/5.0

Money aside, are movies like “Oceans,” and “The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos,” which was released on the home market on the same day as its theatrical companion, worth your time? Yes and no. There is something marvelous about seeing footage that looks like CGI-created special effects even though it is purely a product of mother nature and Pierce Brosnan has a soothing narrative voice but one wishes “Oceans” would strive for something a bit greater than the sum its notable parts.

Oceans was released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 26th, 2010
Oceans was released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 26th, 2010
Photo credit: Disney

The footage is cool to watch and I understand the need to “dumb it down” for kids to not feel like they’re watching a video in a school classroom but “Oceans” never finds an educational rhythm. Almost all of the footage either falls into the “weird” (strange looking fish), “deadly” (Disney has always loved their circle of life), or “awe-inspiring” categories but the film rarely forms a cohesive whole. There’s a difference between impressive footage and an actual movie and “Oceans” fall too much into the former.

The Crimson Wing was released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 26th, 2010
The Crimson Wing was released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 26th, 2010
Photo credit: Disney

Having said that, the footage should definitely be seen in HD. “Planet Earth” can be a bit much for some people, especially the youth and family market targeted by Disney Nature, so “Oceans” should be seen as a healthy alternative: The “light” version of the full meal that is “Planet Earth.” And it has moments of jaw-dropping beauty, especially in HD.

There have been so many wonderful nature-based HD releases (most of them from BBC) that it can be difficult to determine on which scale to judge “Oceans.” I would never choose it over “Planet Earth” but perhaps that shouldn’t be the bar of judgment. When one considers all the brain-dead options for children, it seems counter-productive to get down on a Disney Nature offering like “Oceans.”

Disney Nature also chose to release a 2-disc combo back of “The Crimson Wing,” the story of a Lake in Tanzania and the miracle of nature caught on film. A million flamingos arrive at this lake to continue the circle of life and the filmmakers focus on the journey of one new chick. In many ways, “The Crimson Wing” is more accomplished than “Oceans” because it’s more focused (although the latter features more remarkable footage, having a wider canvas with which to work.)

Is the Disney Nature trend here to stay? With more and more technologically impressive ways to both capture and display the power of nature, it makes sense that we’re seeing more and more Blu-ray releases like “Oceans” and “The Crimson Wing.” They may not be the complete experiences one hopes they would be, but as purely visual marvels, they are both something to behold.

“Oceans” Special Features:
o Living Menus — A Fully Interactive Experience
o Filmmaker Annotations
o “Make a Wave” — Disney’s Friends For Change Music Video Featuring Joe Jonas & Demi Lovato
o Disney & Nature: Preserving the World We Share
o “Deeper in the Ocean” — Select Bonus Videos

“The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos” Special Features
o “Lake Natron Diaries: Behind The Crimson Wing”
o Living Planet: Explore the Earth In A Fully Interactive Experience!
o Filmmaker Annotations
o “The Crimson Wing” Screensaver

“Oceans” and “The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos” were released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 19th, 2010. content director Brian Tallerico

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