Last Chance to See (Blu-ray) (2009)

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Released 10-Nov-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 375:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Tim Green
Stephen Fry
Mark Carwardine
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case ?
RPI $49.95 Music David Ayers
Felix Tod
Alex Boyle


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (3254Kb/s)
English Linear PCM 96/24 2.0 (4608Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     Last Chance to See is a British produced nature series based on the adventure, radio series and book by the late, great Douglas Adams. Aside from being a witty novelist (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) Adams was also a committed conservationist. Appalled by the disappearing species all over the world, Adams travelled around the globe with his good friend, noted zoologist, conservationist and photographer Mark Carwardine, chronicling the desperately dwindling numbers of endangered animals. The radio series premiered in 1989 and the book followed in 1990.

     Adams died in 2001 and it was left to his good friend Stephen Fry to grab Carwardine and take off to some remote locations to see how some of the desperately endangered species identified in the book were faring. The results can be seen in this series. Rather than just talk about global ecology the book identified some key rare creatures and described the problems facing their survival. The TV series does the same. Over the course of 6 episodes Fry and Carwardine try to find the animals and work out whether they are on track for survival. They are:

  1. Amazonian Manatee
  2. Northern White Rhino
  3. Aye-Aye
  4. Komodo Dragon
  5. Kakapo
  6. Blue Whale

     Each episode is just shy of 60 minutes and the show has been placed on two Blu-ray discs with three episodes and extras per disc.

     Stephen Fry provides the voice-over for the series and is also the comic foil for the very earnest Carwardine. The sight of the very large Fry going to places clearly outside his comfort zone gives the show two stories; the dying animals and the uncomfortable Brit. This may at first seem a distraction from the main purpose of the show but it does have a key attraction - seeing the average man in the wild. The show would have been more serious but far less interesting had it just been a "Save The Whales" plea. As it is the pair make a great duo and the show is better for their chemistry.Of course, whilst the show is about animals it is more properly about the search for rare animals and there is a lot of time spent peering through the undergrowth in search of elusive creatures.

This Blu-ray contains the 6 episodes of the first season but there has been an update on the rhino story that featured as a new episode. Here's hoping this pair get to do more trudging in the wilderness in a further season.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Last Chance to See was shot on High Definition digital video. It was broadcast on TV in 1080i at a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. That ratio has been preserved for the Blu-ray release. It is, however, in full 1080P.

     Last Chance to See is a nature programme/travelogue and shouldn't really be compared with nature documentaries like Life where some unlucky cameraman has been stuck in a bug infested jungle for two months filming a frog eating a beetle. This is more "on the fly" stuff and the visual quality matches that aspiration. The series alternates between set shots of animal majesty and crawling through the jungle shots.There is an understandable loss of quality when the camera is on the move. Some of the footage is at night.

The result is a series that looks very good but doesn't aspire to reach the heights of the BBC other flagship nature series'. The colours are strong and accurate and the image is always clear. The only real incidence of digital noise is in the night scenes.

This is a good looking series and one that appreciates the advantages of Blu-ray.

Video Ratings Summary
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Audio

     Last Chance to See carries two soundtracks, both English, one being a 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio and the other a LPCM 2.0 track.

     Both do a pretty good job of presenting this programme. A surround track, particularly a lossless one, is always welcome but it must be said that this is not really a show to demonstrate the wonders of high definition sound.

That said there is a nice separation to the sound and some ambient noises and music coming from the side and rear channels. The episodes consist of dialogue in the form of witty asides from the fiercely intelligent Fry and important information from the knowledgeable Carwardine. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand only dipping in intelligibility at moments when the pair are whispering in the bush, trying not to scare off a rare animal, or when live sound is quite loud.

     The music is by David Ayers and Felix Tod and is a quality accompaniment to the show.

Audio Ratings Summary
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Extras

     The only extras on this Blu-ray are a series of deleted scenes. There are four per disc and they are as follows:

Blu-ray 1


Blu-ray 2

     All are worth watching. My favourite moment - the dreadful irony of an endangered animal that has as its diet other endangered animals.

R4 vs R1

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

    This Blu-ray has been designated All Regions and is playable anywhere.

Summary

     Last Chance to See is an enjoyable romp with a serious message. These animals are not endangered because they couldn't compete in their own habitats - it is that their habitats are being consumed by the planet's most dominant species.

     The Blu-ray looks and sounds very good but should not be confused with Attenborough nature porn. The extras though brief are a welcome addition to the package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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