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Nature documentaries are amongst the best types of programs for one watch in high definition. All of the inherent beauty of the world around us comes alive in high definition, and for that reason, these types of programs are even better served by Blu-ray, because of the superior throughput of the format, which brings out even more detail than present in overly compressed cable broadcasts. This brings us to the BBC Earth documentary YELLOWSTONE: BATTLE FOR LIFE ($25), which looks at one of the great wonders of the world- Yellowstone National Park and the creatures that inhabit it. Situated in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, Yellowstone was Americaís first National Park and covers an area of three thousand four hundred sixty eight square miles, with terrains consisting of lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges, which sit atop the largest super-volcano on the continent of North America. The unique properties of Yellowstone comprise half of the world's geothermal features, the most famous of which is the Old Faithful Geyser. Narrated by actor Peter Firth, YELLOWSTONE: BATTLE FOR LIFE is a three-episode program that looks the seasonal challenges facing the diverse wildlife through Winter, Summer and Autumn. Yellowstone National Park is truly one of the most beautiful, majestic and unforgiving places on the planet and the high definition photography of this program is one of the best ways to experience it, without leaving the comfort of your living room.

BBC Home Video (via Warner) has made YELLOWSTONE: BATTLE FOR LIFE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080i presentation is a wondrous sight to behold and I have to say I donít envy the documentary crew, who were capturing some of this startlingly beautiful imagery during the forty-degree below zero conditions of the Yellowstone winter. Image sharpness and detail are excellent, with admirable detail even being capture in sequences that could have only been shot with telephoto lenses. Colors are bright and bold, which makes one want to go to the park during the more favorable seasons. Blacks look terrific, as do the whites. Contrast and shadow detail also impress. Some minor idiosyncrasies are present in the image, but considering the difficult shooting conditions, they are understandable and easily overlooked.

YELLOWSTONE: BATTLE FOR LIFE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Although front heavy, this is television documentary sound at its best. Narration is clear and lifelike, while the live sounds also impress, even though some of this had to be microphoned under challenging circumstances. The sound does offer a nice ambient presence that brings one into the moment. During the winter, the sound can be fairly desolate, but picks up when the warmer weather comes to Yellowstone. Fidelity is strong and bolstered by the lossless encode. The bass channel is solid, but not overblown. No other language tracks are present, but English subtitles are provided.

The interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some extras. Other programs include Jeff Henry: The Snowman (ten minutes), Mike Kasic: The Fishman (ten minutes) and Geyser Gazers (eleven minutes).

YELLOWSTONE: BATTLE FOR LIFE is a terrific nature documentary that looks pretty amazing on Blu-ray. Recommended.



Yellowstone: Battle for Life [Blu-ray] (2009)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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