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It's subject matter is impossibly beautiful, but does this nature doc do the Australian reef justice....?
BBC / 150 Minutes / 2012 / Unrated / Street Date: April 9, 2013
Proving yet again just how much of a gamechanger Planet Earth really was, Great Barrier Reef provides lovely escapist nature documentary programming, but it seems antiquated and somehow underwhelming by comparison. Structured more like traditional nature doc narratives pre-Planet Earth, Great Barrier Reef presents lush, often unbelievably beautiful photography, but its narrative doesn’t grasp you by the shoulders the way P.E. does.
It’s not fair to judge the merits of a doc like this one with the ghost of Planet Earth constantly surrounding it, but it’s hard to resist that temptation. In short, Great Barrier Reef is a knowledgeable, capable, and all-around engaging overall look at the majestic oceanic expanse, but it plays more like a Nova episode than as a breathtaking piece of documentary cinema.
That being said, it’s difficult not to succumb to the gorgeous allure of the subject matter at hand in Great Barrier Reef. With dynamic photography and a truly panoramic sound design, this Blu-ray provides an armchair view of this global wonder that anyone with even a marginal curiosity about the natural world will find wonderfully absorbing. It’s not the kind of high-def disc you’ll revisit again and again, but as a one-off, it’s a fun – if fleeting – trip to the sea.