Gathering dazzling images from the ocean floor, Turtle Odyssey brings truly stellar photography into this condensed story. The focus is a turtle – obviously – named Bunji. Followed from her birth back to her nesting ground as a mating adult, Bunji sees a lot of stuff in her life.
Russell Crowe narrates. For an IMAX documentary, Turtle Odyssey uses Crowe for star power, but otherwise sticks to their routine. This is one where the focus remains visual; Turtle Odyssey isn’t too compelling. It’s safe, never depicting Bunji in too much danger. A short conservation segment discusses plastic pollution, if lacking in thematic weight.
When the focus turns away from Bunji, the visual palette blossoms. Turtle Odyssey looks at whales, sharks, squids, corals, and all manner of sea life. It’s a clever way to sell the scope of Bunji’s life, drifting ever further out to sea, contending with varied species as she goes.
In 40-minutes, the educational value is fairly lean. Turtle Odyssey isn’t in business to discover information about this species; this is widely known material, aside from the youngest viewers learning about sea turtles for the first time. Luckily though, the visual scope is enough, with smart visual effects merged with the nature footage in needed spots. As always with IMAX documentaries, it’s no less impressive to imagine how this footage was captured, or to stare at awe while the end results playback.
Given the IMAX Enhanced stamp, Turtle Odyssey pushes HDR limits. Scenes that send sunlight through the water bring astonishing dimension. Brightness maintains this peak, adding to the scenery. Pacific islands in numerous aerial views look sensational in daylight.
The few times Bunji dives, black levels add their contribution. Shadow density emboldens the limited light reflecting from corals. Some graphics in space deliver absolute black, one of them drawing map lines that look akin to the best neon when against this backdrop.
Being IMAX, resolution brings absurd texture. Watching Bunji pop from her egg and wander onto the beach reveals every sand grain. Scaly textures reach a premium tier. Underwater, schools with fish by the thousands suffer no loss in definition. Whale skin shows every scuff, and coral’s magnificence cannot be overstated.
All this praise noted, Turtle Odyssey does have issues. A shot around 9:20 reveals notable compression. Mosquito noise surrounds fish swimming alongside Bunji. Other scenes smear a bit, possibly a remnant from grain reduction; that’s a guess. The slightest banding does appear in ocean gradients, if likely unnoticed by most. Combined, it’s enough to put Turtle Odyssey a step lower than other nature documentaries on this format.
It’s a pleasure listening to the DTS:X mix here. Water holds a constant presence, swaying or flowing between channels above or below the surface. A brief hurricane adds wind and thunder, totally enveloping the soundstage. Some boats pan around and into the height channels.
Hefty LFE gives range to a bold score. Horns and drums both step up to make themselves heard and felt. A heartbeat during one scene nicely extends deep. That hurricane sticks out too. For something mixed in post (the same with all IMAX features), Turtle Odyssey sounds organic while making full use of DTS:X.
An interview with sea turtle researcher Dr. Ian Bell runs 13-minutes. Other than trailers, that’s it for extras.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.
Fairly standard in documentary terms, Turtle Odyssey instead makes its IMAX visuals the star with dazzling ocean-bound footage.
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our Patreon-exclusive set of 32 full resolution 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: