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Born to Be Wild (2011): Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy Review

Born to Be Wild (2011) movie poster Born to Be Wild 3D

Theatrical Release: April 8, 2011 / Running Time: 41 Minutes / Rating: G / Songs List

Director: David Lickley / Writer/Producer: Drew Fellman / Narrator: Morgan Freeman

Cast: Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas, OC; Dr. Dame Daphne M. Sheldrick, DBE;

Tagline: Born To Be Loved, Born To Be Free

IMAX: Born to be Wild available on Blu-ray Combo pack, DVD and for download 4/17.

Buy Born to Be Wild from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD DVD Movie-Only Blu-ray

The title "Born to Be Wild" most immediately conjures Steppenwolf's iconic 1960s rock anthem. But it has also been applied to a little-known 1938 movie, a 1995 family comedy film, a Philippine TV series, and episodes of a dozen television shows from "SpongeBob SquarePants" to A&E's Charlie Sheen biography. Most recently, the title was given to an IMAX 3D documentary released to theaters last April and coming to home video next week.

It is very easy for IMAX films not to show up on your radar. They typically forgo aggressive marketing campaigns and are limited to playing on the few hundred large format screens that can support them.
The 40-minute movies do the majority of their business in museums and zoos, where they're attended as spontaneous time-fillers and as part of class field trips. Today's usual trajectory of films fading from view after three weeks in theaters certainly doesn't apply to them. IMAX movies can and have played for as long as ten consecutive years. Their anomalous long hauls see them dominating all-time charts of top-grossing movies that never cracked the box office's top ten.

Even the biggest IMAX hits do not break out to the point of pop culture references and widespread familiarity. Some, like Space Station 3-D and Deep Sea 3D, may have been seen by many people, but their impact is so spread out and random that they never generate the kind of buzz that An Inconvenient Truth, March of the Penguins, and Michael Moore's documentaries have.

An orphaned elephant enjoys a bottle of milk formula in the presence of a keeper.

Though you probably wouldn't know it, 2011's Born to Be Wild is one of the more successful films of its kind. Released in just one-sixth as many theaters as last Earth Day's now-standard Disneynature theatrical release (African Cats), Warner Bros. Pictures' IMAX feature has grossed over $2 million more domestically and $3 M more worldwide (with the help of premium ticket prices). The numbers were good enough to rank Born fifteenth among modern IMAX releases whose figures have been tracked, better than IMAX reissues of hit narrative feature films (The Lion King, The Polar Express) and productions with major studio backing and talent behind them (like James Cameron's dalliances between Titanic and Avatar).

Narrated by Morgan Freeman, a choice that invites inevitable comparisons to March of the Penguins, Born bills itself as "a fairy tale that is entirely true." It evenly divides its little runtime to a pair of "fairy godmothers" in two distant parts of the world. In Kenya, Dr. Daphne Sheldrick has run a nursery for orphaned young elephants for over fifty years. On the large Indonesian island of Borneo, Dr. Birute Galdikas has been offering a similar service for motherless orangutans.

In both venues, the animals are groomed for an adult life in the wild. But that doesn't mean they don't get some tender love and care first, from the milk formula that Sheldrick needed 28 years to perfect to the jungle gym, diapers, baths, and piggyback rides with which Galdikas' staff provides her apes. It is heartwarming to see both the "small" elephants and the more photogenic orangutans getting the sustenance and support they need, as we hear of poachers' slaying their parents and their painful persistent memories.

At Dr. Galdikas' Borneo sanctuary, an adorable baby orangutan gets a bath.

Like many and maybe even most made-for-IMAX films, however, this is beautifully shot and sufficiently fun, but fairly hollow as a piece of storytelling. No voiceover remark, detail, image, or scene is likely to stay with you after the credits roll. It is rewarding to learn that there are deep-pocketed individuals out there committed to adopting and rearing orphaned animals unable to fend for themselves.
But that information isn't relayed more saliently by the use of incredibly sharp, smooth, and detailed footage. That simply welcomes you to get lost in the brilliance, which can be generated from the most mundane of moments with the 250-pound IMAX 3D camera doing its job.

As always, the visuals lose a great deal of magnificence in being scaled down from a screen six stories high to your TV of at most a few feet. This is where a great story or compelling narration could stand to be noticed. But whereas it is a reality that most movies will be seen more often on television and home video, IMAX productions seem to maintain the extremely old-fashioned view of post-theatrical life as an afterthought.

Distinctive personalities, flavor, and a striking structure all would have helped Born to stand out and to strengthen its message. Like most IMAX documentaries, though, it settles for showing you sights and sounds you don't see and hear on a regular basis in the highest quality available. It's better than walking aimlessly around a museum or simply resting your feet at a zoo bench, but it won't linger in your memory any longer than that overpriced ice cream treat you don't need but sounds so very good.

Born to Be Wild (2011): Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

1.78:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: April 17, 2012
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Two single-sided discs (BD-50 & DVD-5)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase with Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($28.98 SRP), Blu-ray 3D combo pack ($44.95 SRP), and movie-only Blu-ray ($29.98 SRP)

VIDEO and AUDIO

The main attractions of an IMAX film are the picture and sound quality and while no Blu-ray Disc can recreate those in the home, Warner's stunning combo pack does an exceptional job trying to. The pristine 1.78:1 widescreen transfer delivers such amazing detail, while the potent 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix provides the top-notch ambient noises one expects of wild animals out in the elements. A few songs are also used to nice effect, none of them by Steppenwolf. This presentation leaves nothing to be desired, save for 3D, which is offered in a concurrent three-disc combo pack alongside the same two discs found here.

See the bulky IMAX 3D camera in use in the behind-the-scenes webisode "'Wild' Filmmaking. Elephant keeper Omari Shongolo shares his experiences with Sabachi the elephant in the webisode "Caregivers."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Not the strongest in the supplements department, the Blu-ray offers just six "On Location" webisodes in high definition. Ranging from 2 to 4 minutes each, these shorts give us ordinary behind-the-scenes consideration of the locations and animals with crew and cast comments.
Titled "Borneo", "Kenya", "Camp Leakey", "Coming Home to Tsavo", "'Wild' Filmmaking", and "Caregivers", these add up to 16 minutes overall, although they lack the obvious "Play All" option.

There is also a listing for BD-Live, but as always on Warner discs, that didn't work for me, timing out before connecting to a network where presumably streaming trailers await.

The DVD included here is evidently not identical to the one sold on its own, which includes two ("Borneo" and "Kenya") of the six webisodes (as well as an UltraViolet streaming code). Why Warner went through the trouble of authoring a separate DVD for this combo pack and why Warner bothered to suppress extras from a disc that uses less than half of the capacity a DVD-5 (single-layered disc), I do not know. There seem to be some glaring costs and efforts begging to be cut at this and other studios, but I just review the discs.

The Blu-ray opens with promos for Blu-ray 3D and "Frozen Planet."

Displaying the bottom swatch of the poster and cover art, the static menu plays score and animal sounds. The one insert supplies your combination UltraViolet/WB Insider Rewards program code. The eco-friendly Blu-ray case is topped by a slipcover, the only part defining this release as a combo pack and the only venue advertising Warner's imminent next IMAX film, To the Arctic.

Per the plan, a fully-raised orphan orangutan is released back into the wild.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Animal lovers, especially fans of elephants and apes, will get forty minutes of moderate enjoyment out of Born to Be Wild, a film that is less than arresting when removed from the IMAX and 3D of its theatrical exhibitions. Those with no inclination towards nature documentaries will probably be less moved and possibly downright underwhelmed. But this is not a movie that will generate anything resembling ill will and it's uncommon enough to qualify as an interesting but thin rental.

Buy Born to Be Wild from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD / Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD / DVD / Movie-Only Blu-ray

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Related Reviews:
IMAX: Ghosts of the Abyss Van Gogh: Brush with Genius Aliens of the Deep Sacred Planet Roving Mars The Young Black Stallion
Nature Documentaries: African Cats Oceans Earth The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos True-Life Adventures: Creatures of the Wild Deep Blue
New to Blu-ray: A Night to Remember (Criterion Collection) War Horse We Bought a Zoo The Descendants That '70s Show: Season One Camel Spiders
Animals: Sing Along Songs: Flik's Musical Adventure at Disney's Animal Kingdom Cheetah Zookeeper A Far Off Place Mr. Popper's Penguins
Animated Animals: The Lion King Dumbo Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa The Jungle Book Fantastic Mr. Fox
Morgan Freeman: Dolphin Tale Invictus Evan Almighty

Born to Be Wild Licensed Song List: Harry Nilsson - "Let the Good Times Roll", Hank Williams Sr. - "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)", Mel Torme - "Comin' Home Baby", Ladysmith Black Mambazo - "Lonyaka", Alexandre Desplat - "Canis Lupus" from Fantastic Mr. Fox, K'Naan - "Wavin' Flag"

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Reviewed April 13, 2012.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 Warner Bros. Pictures and IMAX Filmed Entertainment, and 2012 Warner Home Video. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.