Cover Art and Menus: 9/10
A beautiful bright shot of the crew of the Morning Light (a 52 foot yacht) cutting through the ocean adorns the cover of this Blu-ray of the same name. It is a nice shot, and a good, colorful cover that gives you a real sense of the tone of this documentary. This “true-life documentary” as it is called on the front of the box is lively and fun, and the cover is the same.
The menu is nautical in styling, with an ocean background, and things like compasses for effect. The menu, while rather static, is still unique and good. I thought the whole package was nicely presented.
- Stories From The Sea –This piece runs about 30 minutes, and goes into depth about the making of the movie, with additional information about the race itself. This extra also takes some time to focus on the production team and how the movie was made, all with a host, which is slightly different from the movie, which mainly relied on the crew’s journal entries for overdubs.
- Morning Light Making The Cut –Making the Cut spends a good amount of time showing us how the crew was picked. This is an ESPN, 42 minute show about the in depth process of picking the crew. The movie unfortunately skims over the actual selection process, and this extra does a good job of focusing on the making of the team itself.
Both extras are quite good, but they are the only additions that we get to the movie itself on the Blu-ray. I would have liked more extras here, as the story is ripe for learning more about the race and boating in general.
The Movie: 9/10
Morning Light is a Disney documentary about 15 college aged kids who are competing to be picked as the crew of the 52 foot yacht called the Morning Light. Owned by Roy Disney, the boat is to be entered in to the Transpacific Yacht Race (or Transpac for short). The Transpac is a non-stop race from California to Hawai’is Diamond Head, off of Waikiki. The race is a grueling 2,225 mile ordeal which last for several days. The competing kids are rigorously trained in how to handle the large boat, and we are given a glimpse of just what it takes to get ready for the race.
We are initially presented with the 15 different boaters, who are shipped to Hawaii to meet with Roy Disney, as he turns over the proverbial “keys” to this gorgeous boat. The kids are given trainers and lessons from various sailing experts, and they as a group are forced to not only pick their skipper, but also rely on that skipper to decide who will be picked to man the boat, and who will be left behind as an alternate.
The group is forced to adapt to the sea by going on 24 hour jaunts though the Hawaiian waters. We are given a neat glimpse into the groups progression as they adapt to sailing for long hours, through the night, as they gel as a team and try to prepare for the upcoming race.
The style of the documentary is a bit different, as quick edits and differing shots are used to portray the rapid development of this group of kids from sailing rookies to a more cohesive unit. We are given brief background storied of each of the crew, but a vary precursory look at just what it takes to sail one of these massive boats. Back stories are presented, but about half-way through the movie the focus switches as the boat race begins. We get some really good footage of the crew as the race progresses.
Again, this is a documentary, and the subject matter is pretty specific, but it really works. It is entertaining, and the presentation is fresh and quick, which makes watching this a real treat. I am glad that this was not presented as a contest like Survivor, or and of those types of “reality” shows, which was a worry of mine. the kids really seemed to work together and this did not devolve into some back-stabbing ordeal, which was nice. There was one point where one or the kids who was selected as one of the final eleven was replaced by a more seasoned sailor, and the reaction was not one of bitterness, but the kid said that he thought that the decision was warranted. It was a nice change from the craziness that could have been hyped up by this type of movie.
Overall I really enjoyed the adventure of Morning Light, and the presentation was great. This is the type of documentary that is a fun watch, even if you are not that into sailing. It was well done, and a nice change from the everyday Hollywood blockbusters.
Audio & Video: 7/10
Some of the video for Morning Light is unreal, but due to the nature of the documentary, some of the video is pretty bad. Presented in 1080p, with an AVC encode, the problem is really that the video is a mixed match, coupled with the fact that this is a documentary, and there are no”re-takes.” Some of the movie is filmed in high definition, and some of it is not. The mix makes for a range of video presentation, and of course it creates issues for color continuity and video quality. Some of the night vision shots are grainy (as would be expected) but many of the shots of the boat and crew are beautiful. Overall it is a mixed bag, but since this is a documentary, this really should not be a big issue. I have to add that the editing for this movie was quick and sharp, and really lent itself to a nice pace for the movie.
The audio for the movie was again a mixed bag, but overall I thought it worked very nicely. there are lots of ambient noises from the boat mixed in with nice voice-overs and dialogue. the 5.1 DTS-HD was pretty good throughout, and again, considering the nature of the movie, it was well done.
I thoroughly enjoyed this little gem of a movie. I love it when I sit down to review a movie and the movie ends up being so much more than what I had expected. Morning Light is exactly one of those movies. A great story about a new bunch of kids who take on a monumental task, and end up competing with some of the best sailors in the world. The editing was top notch, and the story was compelling and fun. I highly recommend Morning Light, and while it is a Disney documentary, I would not classify this as being a kid movie. I think kids and adults can both enjoy it, but for younger kids, it may be a bit over their heads. Seeing this type of movie makes me want to hop into a sail boat and cruise the ocean. Now if someone could tell me why I chose to live smack in the middle of the US, please let me know.
Overall Score 9/10