The Beauty Of Snakes (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 7 Old 04-06-2009, 12:17 PM - Thread Starter
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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109939&d=1210373637

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Genius Products - 2008
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 43 minutes
Genre: Documentary

Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080i/60

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH
Starring: Narrated by Aoife McMahon
Produced by: Brook Lapping
Music by: Barnaby Taylor
Written by: N/A
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 7, 2009

"Masters of the kill"

Film Synopsis:

Explore one of nature's most beautiful and mysterious creatures. From the desert horned viper to the tiny thread snake, these reptiles have never been showcased in such detail for their vibrant colors and sleek movements. Visit a number of unusual species throughout the globe as this special brings these exotic snakes to light. Despite their fearsome reputation, these fascinating specimens will prove that they are more than deadly, dangerous predators. The Beauty Of Snakes will take you into the wild to celebrate the most intriguing snakes around the world.

My Take:

The Beauty of snakes is an interesting documentary on these fascinating and largely misunderstood reptiles. I recall seeing this when it aired on DiscoveryHD Theater on cable TV. I remember stumbling upon it while surfing channels and then not being unable to turn it off. It gives a general overview of their mating, birthing, anatomy, and physiology although there are some variances among the differing species. There are approximately 3,000 species that live in nearly every corner of the world. They come in a variety of colors, genus types, and can be as small as 6 inches or as large as 30 feet. No matter their size or classification all snakes are masters of the kill. Though largely feared by humans snakes will almost always avoid human contact but some can be extremely dangerous if provoked (or not provoked!). One such example is the African Black Mamba. Nicknamed the Shadow of death by locals the Black Mamba is short tempered, extremely fast, and a highly venomous snake. Its venom can be fatal within 20 minutes of a bite. It is also capable of short bursts of speed that can average up to 12 mph. If you take nothing away from this documentary remember to avoid these particularly nasty snakes that have been known to get pissed off and pursue those who have come across their paths. This is a wonderfully shot feature that provides incredible footage of mating rituals (the garter snake was pretty interesting), birthing, feeding, shedding skin, camera mounted viewpoint (from a snakes point of view) and more. These amazing animals are descended from early reptiles. They live in trees, on land or in the water and have adapted to existing in a multitude of environments. While we tend to look at them in a negative light, snakes are extremely important in keeping the rodent population under control. If you like documentary's and appreciate photographic excellence this is well worth checking out.

Parental Guide:

This may not be appropriate for young viewers as there are several sequences where furry little creatures meet their demise.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 72

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

Video: 84

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

The beauty of snakes comes to Blu-ray Disc from Genius Products featuring 1080i AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 20 mbps and lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 channel audio that has a constant bitrate of 448 kbps.

This high definition video presentation looked good on HD cable but looks stunning on Blu-ray Disc. Colors are bold, deep and delineated. The plethora of bright hues, lush greens and earth tones look succulent. Textures are deep and detail is vivid as the various landscapes, small animals and environments captured by the camera have superb depth and lucid resolution. Blacks are deep and contrast is strong which gives images plenty of dynamic pop. There was some intermittent digital noise that was primarily visible against light backgrounds but it wasn't detrimental. The 5.1 channel Dolby sound quality was open, clear, and easily conveyed the dialogue rich elements of this documentary. The presentation remained front focused with Barnaby Taylor's music and Aoife McMahon's narration taking center stage. Dialogue was firmly entrenched in the center channel with the music flanking it through the mains with mild atmospheric ambience spread to the surrounds. This isn't a particularly engaging surround mix but I never felt it was lacking in any way.

Bonus Features:

There are no bonus features.

Final Thoughts:

The beauty of snakes is a documentary that offers an intriguing and visually arresting look at one of the most diverse, potentially dangerous and oldest species of reptile on the planet. This Blu-ray Disc presentation beautifully captures the essence of the high definition recording and looks incredible. If you are looking for a great way to show off your high definition display this documentary makes for a great conversation piece. Enjoy.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

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APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
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Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

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post #2 of 7 Old 04-06-2009, 01:58 PM
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Thanks, Ralph, for an informative (as usual!) review of what must be a fascinating title!

It certainly sounds like a great disc for showing off picture quality.

Besides, I have a friend coming to visit and this disc should scare the hell out of him!
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post #3 of 7 Old 04-06-2009, 02:21 PM
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post #4 of 7 Old 04-06-2009, 06:41 PM
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Good review,Ralph.
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post #5 of 7 Old 04-06-2009, 08:08 PM
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Talk to me when Snakes on a Plane is available in blu.

Seriously though, might have to check this out.
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post #6 of 7 Old 04-06-2009, 08:38 PM
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Snakes give me the willies, but whenever they are featured on a TV show (documentary or the crock-hunter), I can't turn it off!

About 15 years ago, there police all over the San Francisco Bay Area were searching for a Black Mamba, that was supposedly imported into the country and was reported lost by the owner. I remember being on a golf course and looking up into every tree before walking under them, because these snakes were known to attack from above!!! Happily, it turned out to be a prank, but it showed how much I loved golf...I would risk my life to squeeze in a round!

Great review Ralph...this one is going into the Netflix queue...although i don't like their damn price increase!!!!!

David Vaughn Blu-ray Reviewer / Technical Writer Sound & Vision Magazine (Print & Online)
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post #7 of 7 Old 04-07-2009, 09:29 PM
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Great review Ralph! This is one of my all time favorite programs that has aired on Discovery HD theater. It actually had a permanent residence on my DVR until a snafu by yours truly lost it forever... There is something hypnotizing about the image quality on some of the scenes that just transfixes anybody looking at the screen. By the time you know it you are fully into the program.

This is a show off your display disc indeed.
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