DisneyNature: The Crimson Wing Mystery Of The Flamingos Blu-Ray Review

Cover Art and Menus: 7/10
The cover for Crimson Wing is a sharp shot of a mother and baby flamingo, set against the backdrop of the African lake area where the flamingos thrive.  It is a nice shot, and pretty good for this type of movie.  To me it is not as good as the Oceans cover, but it is powerful and pretty.  The menu is actually more to my liking, as we get some amazing shots of the giant pink birds standing in the lake, moving about.  The shots are from the movie, and are excellent, with the menu choices along the bottom.  The menu is very artistic and it just looks amazing.

Features: 5/10

  • Lake Natron Diaries Behind The Crimson Wing – This collection of 5 shorts totals about 20 minutes in length, and it is a solid making of feature.  We get to hear about the process and challenges of filming in Africa, as well as the thought process that went into the music score, and a whole bunch of insight into the making of this documentary.  This is actually a decent little making of collection.
  • Living Planet – We again get a globe with some hot spots that can be selected that feature information about our planet.  This was also featured on the Oceans Blu-ray, and includes local time and temperature.  The hot spots include factoids about various animals and the earth itself.  Kind of neat, even if there was not much to choose from.
  • Filmmaker Annotations – This little picture-in-picture extra includes more interviews with the cast and crew about their little adventure in shooting this movie.
  • The Crimson Wing Screensaver – This is kind of a strange little inclusion, but it works well.  We basically get a screen saver of shots from the movie that are looped.  Included is music from the movie itself.  It sure beats a Disney logo moving silently around the screen.
  • Blu-Ray & DVD – We get both the Blu-ray as well as the DVD version of the movie.  Like I stated with the Oceans release, I can’t imagine wanting to watch this type of documentary on standard DVD when you have a Blu-ray player.

The Movie: 7/10
I think it would have helped, at least for those kids watching, to explain just what mystery we are going to examine about the flamingo, before we really jumped in.  That being said, DisneyNature’s third release, Crimson Wing Mystery of the Flamingos is another great nature documentary release that shows the life and habitat of the pink flamingo.  Set in Tanzania at Lake Natron, this documentary focuses only on the flamingo, which is a departure from the last two DisneyNature releases which rifled through different animals at a lightning quick pace.  Here we are given 78 minutes on the flamingo, and while the amount of information that is tucked into this documentary is staggering, the pacing at times is slow, especially if you are watching this with little kids.  The opening sequence was lengthy, and there are times where we get shots of the group of flamingos parading around the lake, and it seems a bit too much.

We are shown the landscape that gives rise to this unique lake, where red algae grows.  Nothing else seems to survive in the toxic lake, as it sits under a volcano, and is supplied by an underground spring that is full of salt.  The effect is a surreal red-fire water that looks as if it were computer generated.  We learn that the algae is the main source of food for the thousands and thousands of flamingos who flock to the lake bed as the African summer dries the lake up to a salty white, barren wasteland.  this wasteland is the perfect place for the communal birds to court and lay eggs, and the fantastic cinematography catches the birds every move.

Crimson Wing also details the life span of the birds, as they hatch and begin their journey away from Lake Natron, to other more pletiful areas of Tanzania, where the small birds grow and take on their environment, first by walking, and then by learning to fly.  We get an in depth view of the flamingo, in a manner that has not been shown before.

Crimson Wing looks and sounds amazing, and the story is more solidly presented here than in DisneyNature’s Oceans, which seemed a bit scattered.  The shots of the brightly colored birds runs the classic range from beautiful to funny, with every emotion wrapped within.  There are quite a few shots of predators having some of the young flamingos for meals, which seemed to me to be a bit more gruesome than the last two releases, and had a bit of a negative effect on my son, but overall the presentation was good.  The voice over is done this time by Mariella Frostrup is well done, if not a bit quiet for my liking in parts.

Overall this is another high quality DisneyNature release that deserves a watch.  It is not my favorite of the three, but it still is a stunning look at an animal that many know little about.

Audio & Video: 9/10
The audio and video are once again superb.  The high definition presentation is spotless, and the only barrier to the clarity is the color palette of the African landscape, that seems strangely muted, especially when contrasted with the bright red/pink birds.  The 1.85:1 AVC/MPEG-4 presentation is breathtaking.  The audio is also quite well done, with the sounds of the birds surrounding you throughout, without going overboard and being annoying.  The use of the surround sound was good, if not as dramatic as the other two DisneyNature releases (I could maybe attribute this to the constant bird squawking).  I liked the calm voice of the announcer, but there were times that I thought the mix should have had her demure voice a bit louder, as we did turn up the volume one or two times.

Value: 7/10
I didn’t love Crimson Wing as much as the other two DisneyNature releases that I have seen.  The pace was too slow, and even though it overall was a great little documentary, I was a bit spoiled, especially by the Oceans release, which had pace and flash, even without a great story.  This release felt as though it took too long, as we got numerous shots that all appeared to be too similar before we got to a new aspect of the flamingo’s lives.  Again, a solid release, and definitely entertaining and educational, but it seemed a bit slow and a bit gruesome for little kids.

Overall Score 7/10