Walking with Monsters (2005)

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Released 1-Nov-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Introduction-City
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of-"Trilogy Of Life"
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 87:07
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Tim Haines
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Kenneth Branagh
Case Slip Case
RPI Box Music Ben Bartlett


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Back in 1999, Walking With Dinosaurs  made a global impact on television audiences and was hugely popular. Accordingly, it was followed by a number of direct sequels and some spin-offs. Officially, the Walking With... trilogy consists of the original, plus Walking With Beasts from 2001 and this latest documentary series from 2005, Walking With Monsters. While the first two focused on the age of the dinosaurs and the period between then and now, this one goes back to before both of those, beginning 500 million years ago to show the evolution of life before dinosaurs walked the earth. It uses the same approach as the other two, being computer animated creatures in their natural habitats, both below and above the surface of the oceans which used to cover most of the planet. The creatures here are certainly strange and wonderful. Giant sea scorpions, the first amphibians, giant spiders, millipedes as long as a car, giant mammal-like reptiles and early crocodiles can be seen. It covers the first movement of creatures onto the land, the development of hunting techniques and defence mechanisms.

    As with the other series, the narration is provided by Kenneth Branagh who does an excellent job. This series consists of three episodes, each of just under half an hour. The subject matter is certainly interesting but I think somewhat more academic in focus than the first series, which obviously was a subject matter which could appeal to nearly all ages. Another concern which I have, this is actually discussed in the extras, is how much of what is presented is verifiable fact and how much speculation. You could argue that it doesn't matter because there is no better way to bring this subject to the masses, however it certainly provides food for thought. One thing I did enjoy was the technique of getting the camera involved in the action, either as something to bump into or spray blood on. This certainly increases the feeling of this being a live-shot documentary rather than a made-up, CGI experience.

    Strangely, rather than release a trilogy set of all three series, Roadshow have chosen to release the first series as a set with this latest series. You cannot buy Monsters separately which will certainly annoy those who already have the original series. A box set review will appear separately.

    An interesting series.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is excellent.

    The series is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 enhanced, which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was very sharp and clear with incredible detail in the animation. A uniformly high bitrate certainly assists in this regard. There was no evidence of low level noise. I did notice some very minor macro-blocking under the water at 15:43 but this is a very minor issue.

    The colour was excellent throughout with no issues to report.

    There was one grainy passage at 2:40.

    There are English subtitles for the Hearing Impaired, which are clear and easy to read.

    The layer change was not noticeable during playback.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is very good.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.

    Narration was clear and easy to understand. The sound effects were excellent.

    The score of this series is by Ben Bartlett and was very dramatic and well suited to the program.

    The surround speakers added some mild atmosphere when played with Pro Logic II.

     The subwoofer was not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu included motion, music and the ability to choose episodes.

Trilogy of Life (28:34)

    This is a high quality making of documentary, which covers all three series in the trilogy despite only two being included in this set. The director and major crew are interviewed and they discuss making the six minute pilot to get it funded, the process, success, the criticism and some detail of how they did the animation. Excellent.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This series is available separately in Region 2, which to my mind makes that the best choice, especially for those who already own the first series .

Summary

    An interesting documentary series about the time before Dinosaurs roamed the earth.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is very good.

    An excellent making of documentary is included.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Really annoyed about not being able to buy separately. - Gavin Bollard (bio - updated 9 Nov 2005)
3rd series???? - REPLY POSTED