Penguins: Spy in the Huddle [UK] Blu-ray Review

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  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/50 (25Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English LPCM 2.0 Stereo (48kHz/16-bit)
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Certificate: E
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Run Time: 180 Mins.
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • Blu-ray Release Date: April 22, 2013
  • List Price: £19.99

 

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0.5/5]

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(The below TheaterByte screen captures are taken directly from the Blu-ray Discs and losslessly compressed in the PNG format. There should be no loss of picture quality with this format. All screen captures should be regarded only as an approximation of the full capabilities of the Blu-ray format.

The Series

[Rating:5/5]

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This three-part nature documentary from producer/filmmaker John Downer (Earthflight) takes us around the world and right down into the mix of things with three separate penguin colonies through the use of “spycameras,” cameras hidden inside life-sized, penguin-shaped robots, or, in some cases, even fake rocks or penguin eggs. Accepted by the colonies, these cameras allow us to see the birds in action, up-close like never before, discovering just how grueling the challenge to survive, feed, mate, and raise their chicks can be.

Narrated by David Tennant (Spies of Warsaw; Doctor Who; Hamlet), the series follows the Emperor, Humboldt, and Rockhopper penguins in their vastly different climates. While the Emperor, the largest, and arguably most famous of all the penguins, must brave the penetrating cold of Antarctica, the Humboldt resides in the scorching deserts of South America. The Rockhopper, meanwhile, is true to its name. Inhabiting the Falkland Islands, the species nests on the cliffs and takes to an incredible technique of rock climbing in order to do so.

Penguins: Spy in the Huddle will be one of the most unique films you will ever watch on penguins. It is a pure spectacle, fascinating, and attention grabbing straight through. Whether we are watching penguins fight off vultures stealing their chicks or braving their way through a herd of sleeping sea lions, it’s an adventure superbly captured, with a top-notch narration from David Tennant.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Penguin-Spy-in-the-Huddle-BD_01

This high definition production often looks splendid with vivid, sharp, life-like macro-photography and beautiful panoramas of these creatures in their natural habitats. But it suffers from some digital issues, such as ringing around edges at times, video noise, and a bit of posterization. The numerous lower-quality spycameras employed don’t yield the best resolution either. The effort comes to Blu-ray in an adequately done AVC/MPEG-4 1080i/50 encodement from Acorn Media.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Penguin-Spy-in-the-Huddle-BD_02

It’s a bit disappointing that this fascinating nature documentary, that often depicts vast tundras and tumultuous ocean escapades, offers up only a somewhat claustrophobic LPCM 2.0 stereo (48kHz/16-bit) soundtrack. It would have been quite interesting to hear these sounds of nature in a more encompassing, lossless 5.1. With that said, the 2.0 mix does its job by presenting clear sound effects and placing David Tennant’s narration front and center without any distortion.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0.5/5]

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A 1 ½ minute picture gallery (1080i/50) is the sole on-disc extra supplied.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

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Kudos to John Downer on this remarkable documentary. It’s fun, it’s visually stimulating, and truly educational without being too technical. Every family should watch Penguins: Spy in the Huddle.

Additional Screen Captures

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Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0.5/5]

 

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