Frozen Planet: The Complete Series arrives on blu ray with MPEG-4/AVC 1080i 1.78:1 encode. There are three BD-50 discs, with a total time of 346 minutes. This is the latest flagship release of the BBC's Natural History Unit, the next in line in the epic 'Planet' series after Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Life, and Human Planet. It was produced by Alastair Fothergill, executive producer of Planet Earth.
The following review is based on the set that I purchased from UK, with David Attenborough's narration.
1. "To the Ends of the Earth"
6. "The Last Frontier"
7. "On Thin Ice" (David Attenborough's view on climate change in the Arctic and Antarctic.)
This set will be released on Amazon.ca April 17, 2012. Prior to North American release, the "butchered edition" will be shown on Discovery Channel, with Alec Balwin as narrator for the first 6 episodes. There was a lot of political controversy about Episode 7 (global warming). At first, Discovery balked at showing that, obviously for political reasons. It seems that they have changed their mind, and will show Episode 7 with David Attenborough's narration.
So, should you buy the North American release, beware of the version you are actually purchasing. Without a doubt, David Attenborough's UK version is my only recommended version.
I was initially a little concerned about 1080i. Planet Earth, Life and Human Planets were all 1080p (UK versions). But after watching the video, my fear was allayed. The cinematography was truly spectacular. This landmark, six-part series from the BBC's world renowned Natural History Unit brings to the screen the frozen wildernesses of the Arctic and Antarctic. Ambitious and epic in scale, it is the ultimate close encounter with the polar regions, capturing all the jaw-dropping beauty and majestic power of the elements. The images were sharp with lots of details. Using the latest camera technology to film on land, from the air, underwater and below the Arctic ice cap, producer Alastair Fothergill gave us spectacular icescapes and the fascinating lives of different iconic animals, from polar bears to Adelie penguins, from killer whales to wandering albatross, struggling to survive.
This seven-part seven-hour series covers the natural and wild habitat of the Arctic and Antarctic circles, covering indigenous life, their survival tactics, hunts, and mating cycles, as well as the landscape and natural events, most of which involve ice in dozens of surprising forms, and the extensive effects of the seasonal cycle. The first episode is a kind of overview, four more episodes cover these habitats during the four seasons, the sixth episode covers various human explorations, studies and residents of these regions, and the final controversial episode covers melting ice and global climate change. I find that the contents of the first 5 episodes much more interesting and intriguing - the majesty of rare animals and their complete and total singularity in nature that make their introductions so indelible - like polar bear teaching the young ones to swim, penquins, jumping from the water and then flying gracefully through the air (in slow motion) to land on the ice. You can see every drop of water splashed through the air. (5/5)
The DTS HD 5.1 sound was also very engaging, but never intruded into the video. The audio was very well done. But the star of the audio was not the music, but David Attenborough's narration.
David Attenborough has this uncanny ability to make the mundane absolutely enthralling. He takes the viewer on a journey around the two poles as he brings us stunning views of the wildlife, the environment and the people. His narrative is very informative...simply first class! He not only narrates this one in superb, warm and energetic form, but even makes a couple of appearances in the harsh Antarctic locations at the age of 85! (4.5/5)
UK vs US versions:
The contents are basically the same. Both videos are in 1080i and equally spectacular. Both audios are in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. Both are narrated by David Attenborough - very important! No Alec Baldwin in the US version.
The front covers are different: UK version: picture of an ice field; US version: a lenticular 3-D cover containing a penguin flying through the air and 3 polar bears with whales at the background. Personally, I find the cover of the US version more handsome. The disc labels are also different, but both looked good.
UK version: 346 minutes; US version: 350 minutes.
Language: UK version: only English; US version: English and Parisian French (meaning French for French Canadiens?)
Subtitles: UK version: only English; US version: English, Spanish, Canadian French (this time definitely for French Canadiens)
Special Features: UK version: On Thin Ice; US version: not stated.
UK version: contains a picture sheet advertising Human Planet Live, with orchestral performance only in UK; US version advertised its version containing 90 minutes not seen on television, plus information to enter the contest to win a polar bear adventure.
UK version: inside cover sleeve contains the picture of a large owl (similar one found on disc 3 label of US version), plus personal comments from the series producers, Alastair Fothergill and Vanessa Berlowitz. US version: inside sleeve is plain.
Prices are very similar: UK £24.99 vs $39.99, before shipping or tax. UK version was released in 2011 vs US version released in April 2012.
UK version (although region free) may not be played on PS3, but no problem with other blu ray player!
Following the footstep of Planet Earth, Life and Human Planets, BBC Earth series has brought us the ultimate portrait of Earth's polar regions. There were many jaw-dropping videos, and the cinematography was first class. There are many demo-worthy materials to show off in my 12 foot wide screen home theatre. The result was simply spectacular. And with an energetic narration by David Attenborough, the final result was simply perfection! I am proud to display these 2 Frozen Planet sets next to the Planet Earth and Life sets. Human Planets is a little inferior and less interesting when one is watching humans performing specific tasks, instead of watching little animals doing their thing in a natural habitat. This set is highly recommended. I hope this review is helpful to you.
In recent years BBC Earth has brought us many spectacular high-definition visions of the natural world, and they've pulled out all the stops with this one: near-microscopic shots of krill feeding, extreme close-ups of polar bears, satellite shots of sea ice retreating, aerial views of enormous ice sheets, slow-motion shots of an ice dam breaking up in spring, time-lapse revelations of glaciers flowing to the sea.
The polar regions are among the strangest on earth simply because they are so unfamiliar, and even when we've seen them before (for instance in the first episode of Planet Earth, or Life in the Freezer), there are plenty of surprises here. Hunting sequences and battles between males in rut are always exciting and many are included, but often the hunts don't turn out as you might expect. Besides, even the melting of icicles in the spring is dramatic when you see it in gorgeous high-def slow-motion, as is the formation of ice crystals and snowflakes in high-def time-lapse. There's plenty of humour too, and George Fenton's musical score, reprising his role in Planet Earth, also adds to the sheer entertainment value. Besides, the sound is as amazing as the pictures, from the deep rumbling as a giant iceberg is born to the intimate crackling as of delicate hoarfrost forming.
Astonishingly beautiful as it is, this series is also packed with information, including some new discoveries, and David Attenborough's narration has never been better. Of the six episodes on the first two discs, one introduces us to the Arctic and Antarctic regions, one is devoted to each of the four seasons (at both poles), and one covers the human presence in this "Last Frontier". This final part would have fit just as well in the "Human Planet" series. With the excellent 10-minute "Freeze Frame" segment that documents the highlights of shooting, each episode is an hour long.
The third disc includes the final episode, "On Thin Ice", which shows graphically and explains how (and why) the global warming trend is changing the polar regions much more rapidly than the rest of the planet ... and how this is likely to affect all of us in the present century. This episode uses a lot of footage from the first six, but Attenborough's cogent narration puts it all in a different context. The "extras" on this third disc include:
a 20-minute featurette on the scientific work going on at the poles;
an hour-long condensed version of the first six episodes, containing the most spectacular and dramatic parts of the series;
and a host of brief pieces called "production video diaries" but not limited to peeks behind the scenes of how the series was shot. These don't have the high-def video or audio of the rest, but those i've sampled are interesting for the background information they provide.
In his introduction to the whole series, Attenborough remarks that "This is our planet's last true wilderness, and one that is changing just as we are beginning to understand it." He invites us "to witness its wonders, perhaps for the last time ... " It's hard to refuse an invitation like that, and the promise of wonders is amply fulfilled in every episode. Highly recommended!
on July 19, 2014
Wow! I thought this series was great. I have always had a fascination with the polar regions and this BBC series certainly showed them at their best. It is amazing to see what different animals do in order to survive in these harsh environments. Some of the photography, especially the time lapse and slow motion work, is simply amazing as they show the seasons changing from one to another. The sound is also excellent. As the wind howled across the Arctic in the winter all five speakers, and my subwoofer, were given a good workout. If you have any interest in nature shows, the Arctic, or Antarctica, then you will not be disappointed. After watching this I am seriously considering buying Planet Earth.
Although it features some footage from the ground breaking BBC: PLANET EARTH series, it is nearly impossible to go wrong with any of the extraordinary BBC produced documentary films. The exposure to unknown facts and breath taking footage make these films some of the closest many of us will every get to the precious life and beauty of this planet and with any luck, will make people more keenly aware of the damage being done to much of it, as well as the urgent need to preserve that which we are seeing within these films that so many of us have come to love.
I give it 4 out of 5 stars only because PLANET EARTH set the bar and nothing has matched it yet - IMO.
This installment, clearly focuses on the more frigid environments than the other films do and is every bit as entertaining and awe inspiring as the rest of them. Make it a part of your library, it is perfect for the whole family.
on July 11, 2012
I was going to skip this series, I own everything BBC or Nature I can get my paws on, and got it as a gift(!!!).
So of course I watched it, and was really amazed at how good it was. Yes the plight of the polar bear and penguin have been done to death, but the footage is fresh, I have never seen polar bears in battle, and there is other new stuff. I was impressed with the photography, which is ever advancing, so much that planet earth, and the dvd releases are outdated in terms of photography techniques. Some of the material has the "well I've seen this before..." but of the six episodes the least interesting was the Summer one. The seventh episode "On thin Ice" I have yet to see (and have no desire of seeing).
I admit I am more intrigued by warmer climates (especially when it involves turtles and lizards) so I am biased. But I really enjoyed it.
on October 26, 2013
What an incredible scenery and photography,and who can describe it better than David Attenborough.
From Spring to Summer with Polar bears through Autumn with the penguins.From Arctic to Antarctic. the colors,scenery ,and narration are just wonderful all three of the discs are gripping, or just listen to the background music with out the narration and relax while you watch the Polar Bear Cubs , playing,and the Penguins cleverly out witting there predators, great as an educational tool as well,A great Christmas present.