3.5 Stars
Year Released: 2003
MPAA Rating: G
Running Time: 90 minutes
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“Winged Migration” is basically 90 minutes of birds flying from left to right, and then from right to left. I simplify a touch of course, but this exhaustive nature documentary is a travelogue of sorts, as we watch countless species of birds fly all over the world, in a journey spanning forty countries. There is almost no narration, and certainly no spoken word of note. It is simply what it is – birds flying all around the world.

But, to be fair, this Oscar-nominated documentary is a visually stunning and genuinely watchable travelogue. Unlike “March of The Penguins”, which anthropomorphosizes its penguin stars and humanizes what is likely instinctual behavior, “Winged Migration” lets the images speak for themselves. While there was certainly a token amount of manipulation behind the scenes (a scene of a goose getting stuck in industrial sludge was staged by the producers, with the bird being freed after shooting), the vast quantity of gorgeous vistas and educational glances at avian behavior makes this worth watching at least once for the imagery. But, again, be forewarned, it’s basically just birds flying from point A to point B.

Needless to say, the Blu Ray format makes the image quality stunning, and arguably the main reason to buy this film is its high-def incarnation. The print is relatively clean and sparkling, and there are moments that look frighteningly three-dimensional (23:44 is worth sampling, and go to around 56:20 for a stunningly 3D shot of birds flying past a castle). The film is a visual wonder, and this disc is too.

As for the audio, the ‘True HD 5.1′ option is offered in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Since I have but a mere 2.0 DLP television, I can only state that this nearly dialogue-free film has crisp audio and the many sounds of nature are always crystal clear. The subtitle options are English, English SDH (which has that annoying Sony habit of actually looking like closed captioning, black box and all), Portuguese, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian, and Swedish. Frankly, that’s a bit exhaustive for a film with hardly any dialogue.

With the exception of two trailers (for “Open Season 2″ and “Surf’s Up”), all of the extras are unfortunately still in standard definition. But they are copious in quantity. There is filmmaker commentary for both the feature and the 13 minutes of still photographs. There are about 25 minutes of filmmaker interviews and a 17-minute featurette on the music. The big extra is an exhaustive 52-minute making of documentary. There are no amazing revelations, but this is solid material that is a boon for fans of the film. All of the bonus materials have English, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles.

With occasionally stunning imagery, and the picture quality that it deserves, this is a worthwhile peak at nature and an engaging documentary. The copious extras enhance the replay value and the Blu Ray makes a terrific must-own release for fans of this Oscar-nominated documentary.

Posted on April 5, 2009 in Reviews by

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