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Wonders of the Universe Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Running Time: 240 Min.
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: BBC/2-Entertain/Warner
  • Blu-ray Release Date: August 30, 2011
  • List Price: $24.98

[amazon-product]B004XKVQVU[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product region=”ca” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-20″]B004XKVQVU[/amazon-product]

Purchase Wonders of the Universe on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Wonders of the Universe, Season 1 - Wonders of the Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:4.5/5]

Professor Brian Cox, PhD, holder of a chair in Particle Physics at the University of Manchester, and author of Why Does E=MC2? continues the fascinating journey he began in Wonders of the Solar System with this new, four part series Wonders of the Universe. Expanding his energetic view into where we came from and how the universe was formed, shaped, and where it is headed, Cox traverses the globe, traveling high into the Canadian rockies, across African desert, and even takes to the skies on the famous Zero-G “vomit comet” to explore all the fascinating phenomena of the universe and how it ties in to us here on Earth. Combining with the already spectacular imagery of his travels are the newly captured and CGI-enhanced images of space taken from cutting edge telescopes.

The first episode, “Destiny” explores the passage of time, the changing of the Universe, and how it will ultimate end in silence and darkness. “Stardust” examines how all that we know was created from the particles of the stars being born and dying in the universe, even the precious elements we hold so dear, like sodium, or gold. “Falling” takes a unique look at gravity and its influence on the world around us while finally, “Messengers” explores light from distant stars, the speed of light, and what secrets they hold in their ancient signals.

Throughout his narrative and narration, Cox maintains an exuberance that holds your attention, displaying a deep knowledge of his subject, yet he is able to convey the most complicated of subjects to the viewer without resulting to pre-school or kindergarten tactics. There is no obvious dumbing down or pandering here, but, rest assured, it is all quite accessible to the layperson. This is a marvelous series that puts The History Channel’s The Universe in the rearview mirror.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The CGI effects in this high definition production look spectacular, even if the live shots look peculiarly smooth and free from any sort of texture. That aside, this AVC/MPEG-4 1080i/60 encodement is still filled with some remarkable imagery that can easily be pulled out to show off the best of any displays.

Audio Quality

[Rating:2.5/5]

I can maybe understand the argument for not including 5.1 mixes on any given Blu-ray release, given that there are some awful surround mixes out there and some that just do nothing with the additional channels anyway, but, to not include any sort of lossless audio is just not okay in my book. To borrow a line from The Dude in The Big Lebowski, “this will not stand!” Why are we made to suffer through DVD-era lossy Dolby Digital audio on Blu-ray releases at this juncture? Wasn’t the whole promise of Blu-ray about advanced codecs and high resolution? Apparently someone forgot to tell the BBC, because most of their titles come with either Dolby Digital or, the much less offensive but still lossy DTS-HD High Resolution. This one gets an underwhelming Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix that at least has clean dialogue and some decent low frequencies, but subtitles of sound effects and airiness of high frequencies are all missing.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0/5]

There are no supplements on this disc.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Wonders of the Universe is both visually and intellectually stimulating television; the BBC at its best. It’s a must for all science/documentary fans or even those looking for some serious eye candy to show off on their displays, never mind the disappointing audio and barebones release.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B004XKVQVU[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product region=”ca” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-20″]B004XKVQVU[/amazon-product]

Purchase Wonders of the Universe on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Wonders of the Universe, Season 1 - Wonders of the Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

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