Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Shark Week: Restless Fury (Blu-ray Review)

Written by Jami Ferguson
I've always thought burning to death is the worst way to go.  Death by shark attack is a very close second.  Watching the documentaries on these discs, I learned that sharks spend a long time investigating an item before they attack it.  They often bump and nudge things long before ever taking a bite and when they do bite something that is not food, they often spit it out quickly.   I think that if I was in the ocean, and saw a shark coming at me I would have an immediate heart attack and die right there, sinking to the bottom of the ocean.   I'd be dead long before the shark decided whether or not to bite.  When I go on vacation, the sharks and I make a deal - I stay out of their ocean and they stay off my beach.  It's been working for us both so far and I don't mind sticking to chlorinated water only.

Film (4 out of 5 stars)
Each of the documentaries can be played individually, or with the "play all" feature.

Disc One
Into the Shark Bite - Andy Cassagrande has built 10 specialized bite cameras to take a look at what really goes on "at he business end" of a shark.  He hopes the sharks will bite the housing but not eat the cameras.  Cameras are quickly lost as a variety of sharks destroy or take the cameras.  Shark Diver Mark Addison assists the filmmaker in getting in the middle of shark filled waters where they get footage of ragged tooth, great whites, black tips and other dangerous predators.  They also clamp cameras onto the fins of sharks for a unique look.  The two men never use cages, and Mark Addison often doesn't use scuba gear as the bubbles make the sharks nervous.  He free dives and is able to hold is breath for up to 6 minutes.

Ultimate Air Jaws - The term Air Jaws refers to the way great whites will fly through the air attacking from below.  He uses super slow motion cameras to capture the breach, as the animals propel themselves 10-15 feet in the air.  Shark Photographer Chris Follows the great whites in South Africa as the sharks migrate from Seal Island close to the shore.  He wants to determine why the sharks would leave a spot with plentiful food.   A surfer was killed in the very area he paddles barefoot in a yellow kayak and the sharks quickly become interested in his presence.  Great white sharks and humans often share the same waves and Fallows will use an underwater submarine to investigate and observe the great white near the beach.

Day of the Shark III - Shark attack survivors discuss their attacks and the conditions that lead them to find themselves in the jaws of a predator.  Dramatic reenactments accompany their first hand accounts.  Limbs and lives are lost in many occasions.  The reenactments can be pretty graphic and bloody.  Amazingly, many of these people still venture into the water, and one even says his attack was a blessing.

Shark Attack Survival Guide - Green Beret Terry Schappert examines the worse case scenario shark attacks.   Scenarios include being stranded in open water after your boat catches fire, attacks near the beach in shallow water, and attacks in deep water.  The situations happened to real people and he talks about what should have been done for a better outcome. He discusses the conditions that lead to many shark attacks.  Split second decisions may save your life.

Sharkbite Beach - A triathlete is killed by a great white shark in the waters of San Diego.   Southern California has historically safe waters, but now that is in question and experts try to determine why this happened.  A Mexican surf trip turns deadly when a young man in attacked about 200 yards from the beach.  In response Mexican fisherman go on a killing spree trying to solve the problem.  In less than a month, there are three fatalities along the coast of California and Mexico.

Disc Two
Shark Week's Best Bites - Craig Ferguson is in the Bahamas celebrating Shark Week. Ferguson brings a lot of humor to Shark Week asking what happens, hypothetically, if the "shark smells pee pee."  Surprisingly, he doesn't just stand on the beach cracking jokes as he gets his wet suit on and gets in the water to swim with and hand feed some serious sharks.  With Ferguson's comments, we take a look back at some devastating attacks seen on Shark Week shows over the years.  Ferguson warns a boat full of Methodist church campers that some of the sharks may be catholic, so they need to be careful out on the water.

Video (4 out of 5 stars)
The aspect ratio varies, but Shark Week Restless Fury provides some amazing images.  The underwater photography is amazing.  The sharks are filmed in clear blue water, inside dark caves, in water obscured by green algae, but you are always able to see incredible detail.  The filmmakers get close enough so that you can see the variations in the shark's skin, the bits of leftovers, stuck in their teeth and the battle damage from mating or other encounters.  Outside the water, they are often filming at dawn and dusk and many of the images look as though they were taken off a postcard.

Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
Shark Week Restless Fury is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.  While the video quality was excellent, the audio is just adequate.  They did not make great use of all the channels.  I never felt as though I had water rushing around me or anything I would have expected.  I actually would have preferred it if they had left out a lot of the dramatic music they used to intensify the shark attack sequences.  I would have rather heard the rushing water and the fury of the shark.

Special Features (3 out of 5 stars)

Disc Two has the following bonus items:
  • Sharks:  Are They Hunting Us -Zoologist and animal handler Dave Salmoni discusses whether or not sharks are really out to get us or if they are just getting a bad wrap. 
  • Man vs. Fish:  Tiger Shark - Extreme fisherman Matt Watson seeks to catch (and release) Tiger Sharks. Tiger Sharks can grow to 25 feet and 1900 lbs and are a very dangerous predator. 
  • Man vs. Fish:  Maco Shark - Among other crazy things, Matt Wason will tag angry sharks from a blow up raft.  Other anglers go up against Tiger and Salmon sharks.

Final Thoughts  (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
I'm convinced that all of the people who knowingly get in the water with these dangerous predators are insane.  Chris Fallows seal sled is a prime example of a contraption you couldn't pay me enough money to get into.  I've learned that South Africa and Australia aren't great places to go swimming.  My friend Robyn survived a Tiger Shark attack in the waters of South Africa and my friends and I give him a lot of teasing about the fact that he does not even put his toes in the water anymore.  Watching these creatures attack, and seeing what a Tiger Shark looks like, I am resigned to make fun of Robyn a little less.  I do appreciate the humor Craig Ferguson brings to the subject in "Shark Week's Best Bites" and I highly recommend watching it, and all the other documentaries/episodes.

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