Adventure Blu-ray Review

'Island of Lemurs: Madagascar' Blu-ray Review: Monkey business with a message

April 8, 2015Ben MK

Official Studio Synopsis: Fall in love with nature's greatest explorers as they leap, sing and dance their way into your heart! Narrated by Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman, Island of Lemurs: Madagascar will take you and your family on a spectacular journey into the wondrous world of these ultimate survivors.

Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: March 31st, 2015
Format: Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy
Video: 1080p High Definition 16x9 1.78:1
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1, Dolby Digital: Français 5.1, Español 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Français, Español
Run Time: 41 Mins.
Feature Rating:  

Narrated by Morgan Freeman, Island of Lemurs: Madagascar tells the epic story of one of nature’s most amazing creatures: the lemur. Once native to Africa, these diminutive yet resourceful primates survived the massive asteroid impact that killed off the dinosaurs some sixty million years ago, eventually making their way to the remote island of Madagascar, where they thrived and developed into over one hundred different species. But ever since the arrival of humans on Madagascar two millennia ago, lemurs have found themselves locked in an ongoing struggle with man for the island’s limited resources. And now, it’s up to a small group of scientists, including primatologist Patricia Wright, to preserve the lemurs’ natural habitat and to ensure these animals continue to flourish.

The documentary introduces viewers to the conservation efforts of Wright, a former Brooklyn social worker who first traveled to Madagascar in 1986 in search of the then-thought-to-be-extinct greater bamboo lemur. It also gives viewers a peek inside Wright’s rainforest headquarters, the Centre ValBio, a state-of-the-art research facility situated in Ranomafana National Park, where Wright works alongside like-minded scientists — like Dr. Hanta Rasamimanana — to stave off the lemurs’ extinction.

Of course, the real stars of the movie are the lemurs themselves. And director David Douglas and writer Drew Fellman know this, using a mixture of on-the-ground camerawork and aerial shots to shine the spotlight on a handful of lemur species — namely the greater bamboo lemur, the Indri, the ring-tailed lemur, the mouse lemur and the Sifaka. Short, sweet and to the point, Island of Lemurs: Madagascar doesn’t waste time creating an overly cutesy narrative to endear these furry animals to viewers. And it doesn't have to, because the footage of the creatures — conversing with one another, leaping across treetops and foraging for food — speaks for itself.

Audio/Visual Rating:  

Island of Lemurs: Madagascar makes excellent use of state-of-the-art IMAX cameras to treat viewers to a rarely-seen look at the island's inhabitants and its unique geography, with stunning results. From the lush greens of the rainforest to the postcard-perfect blue skies above, colors and contrast levels are vibrant and pleasing, with plentiful detail to bring out everything from the nuances in the lemurs' fur to the many subtleties of the awe-inspiring landscape. To top it all off, both the 2D and the 3D versions of the movie are encoded with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack, which renders dialogue and music with impeccable clarity, while perfectly capturing the sounds of the rainforest — from the chirping of birds, to lapping ocean waves, to the multitude of lemur wails and squeals.

Extras Rating:  

Warner Bros.’ two-disc combo release includes both 2D and 3D versions of the movie on a single Blu-ray, a DVD and UltraViolet digital copy of the movie, plus the following Blu-ray special features:

  • Making of The Island of Lemurs (4:49) - Featuring interview snippets with Douglas, Fellman, Freeman and Wright, this brief making-of featurette showcases more lemur footage and speaks to some of the camera technology used and the remote locations traveled to by the film crew.
  • Behind the Scenes (2:20) - A somewhat redundant featurette, considering that it retreads some of the same subject matter covered in the previous extra, this short piece has Wright, Fellman and Douglas (along with Dr. Rasamimanana) once again speaking about lemurs and talking briefly about making the movie.
  • The Story of Lemurs (5:43) - Wright, Fellman, Douglas and Rasamimanana summarize how lemurs originated in Africa and ended up in Madagascar, discuss the various species of lemurs and emphasize the importance of conservation efforts.
  • Meet Patricia Wright (3:38) - A piece focusing on Wright, her background and her conservation work on the island.
  • A Baby Indri (2:12) - Footage of Fellman and one of Wright’s graduate students gathering data on a 13-day-old baby Indri.
  • Five Things About Indri (2:15) - Primatologist Dr. Jonah Ratsimbazafy dispenses five facts about the Indri, accompanied by more footage of this lemur species.
  • The Cutest Lemur (1:42) - A quick piece about the common bamboo lemur, aka “the cutest lemur.”
  • Go-Kart Racers (2:02) - A behind-the-scenes look at the filming of one of the movie’s scenes, in which wooden banana carts are seen cruising down a hilly road.

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