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.