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    DVD Video - Reviews [Land of the Mammoth]

    ORIGINAL FULL DVD REVIEW



    Land Of The Mammoth

    Release Date:
    3/13/01

    Studio: Artisan
    Year: 2000
    Run Time: 50 minutes
    Rating: Not Rated
      Movie Summary: [Special Interest]

        "Land of the Mammoth," featuring cutting-edge DNA science, picks up where Discovery's blockbuster show "Raising the Mammoth" leaves off. Join French explorer Bernard Buigues and his team of scientists as they undergo the daunting task of analyzing the Jarkov mammoth remains and investigating Siberia's Taimyr Peninsula to uncover clues about the life and ultimate extinction of the great woolly mammoth and other Ice Age species.

    DVD Details
          
    • Full Frame, Color, 5.1 Dolby Digital, Surround
          
    • Making Of; Production Stills; DVD-ROM Content
    See Full Disc Details...

    Reviewer: Marc Flemming [Staff]

     Review:                         

            W oolly Mammoths are to Elephants as Saint Bernards are to Mexican Hairless dogs. Theyíre big hairy beasts with a long trunk and ivory tusks - and they have been extinct for thousands upon thousands of years. Yes, keen insight, I know. And I have more. They last roamed the lands all over parts of the world including Northern America before mysteriously dropping off the face of the Earth at the end of the last ice age. There are many theories derived to explain their eventual extinction, but one thing is for certain, the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the mammoths wonít be divulged in this second documentary surrounding these lost mammals. Land of the Mammoth will tell you a lot about these animals and a lot about the excavation processes that scientists have been faced with in the uncovering of the 20,000 year-old Jarkov mammoth found in its frozen grave in Siberia, but if you thought they were getting any closer to removing the dirt and ice from this encased creature that we saw in Raising the Mammoth - guess again.

    Discovery channelís series on these extinct animals is looking more and more like itís going to give the Friday the 13th series of films a run for its money. We may not see the Jarkov mammoth until well into the 10th movie at the rate these scientists are moving in the complete excavation process. At the time of this writing, Land of the Mammoth is due for its West Coast premier on the Discovery channel in 30 minutes. I have a feeling that within a few hours, many more will be disappointed to find that the progression these scientists make in releasing the mammoth from its tomb is little more than the removal of a few cubic feet of dirt and ice using their trusty hair-dryer removal method. The portion of one rib and a few portions of tissue are discovered. Alas, while the Jarkov mammoth still remains hidden from view at the closing of this documentary, we do learn a great deal about extinct and surviving animals from that time. The movie also spends a great deal of time following the scientists around the Taimyr Peninsula as they spread out in numerous groups to discover more remnants of animals from an ancient time. The most interesting portion of the movie (in my opinion) comes in the last 15 minutes when they get into the surface-level technicalities and possibilities of cloning not only the mammoth, but other species of animal that have long since perished. Letís just say that what Jurassic Park preaches is still a good skip and a hop out of our reach.

    This DVD release is a definite step up in quality from the original Raising the Mammoth which was presented by way of full screen and Dolby Stereo. Land of the Mammoth was shot in anamorphic (16:9) Digital Betamax allowing a great basis for eventual transfer to DVD. The presentation is 2.35:1 widescreen and the visuals are excellent considering the lack of completely sufficient resources to capture the components in trying environments. To accompany the excellent video is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track that I doubt youíll be hearing during the television broadcast. The 5.1 track is most utilized during the abundant special effects sequences throughout. The most notable portion of this track is the use of discreet low-frequency bass. Your subwoofer will mimic the frozen tundra as these heavy beasts take one step after another and in some cases - fall to the ground as they all did eventually. Woolly Mammoths certainly arenít light-footed. Your subwoofer will offer proof.

    The disc doesnít claim to be a special edition of any sorts, but it does offer special features that are a step up from most non-special edition releases. The Discovery channel trailer that they have been running for sometime is included here. A photo gallery of only a select few images from the excavation are included as well. A scientistís diary, Dirk Hoogstra, is also available for your review as he discusses the experience in his own words. He explains some of the details of the events that are not fully covered in the documentary. The focus of the special features are the behind-the-scenes shorts. There are four in all. Two of which are shorts that the Discovery channel would run between shows. The first is an 18-minute featurette that covers all aspects of the actual experiences the crew underwent in the shooting of this production. At times, itís more interesting then the mammoth movie. A 5-minute piece on the creation of the original score is also included. Now that I think back on it, I donít recall particularly noticing the score, but when I saw the short on its creation, it rivals that of many film scores. A 3-minute Discovery short travels on location to where the special effects scenes were created. There we discover bits and pieces about not only the abundance of visual effects they layered over real shots of landscapes, but the special effects that were utilized with real-life animals to achieve certain goals. A final 3-minute piece details the ice cave experience and the troubles the crew ran into when trying to operate blazing hot lights and sensitive equipment in negative 15 degree temperatures.

    Those of you who will get the biggest kick out of this presentation will know it from the start assuming you have a genuine interest in at least some aspect of the excavation of ancient animals. If youíre one has been driving yourself on a relentless anticipation to see the Woolly Mammoth removed from its icy encasing after watching Raising the Mammoth - your tolerance for the information here will only take you along so far. Artisanís DVD release here is good and even better if youíre one to appreciate the content that it stores. If anything can be certain after watching this movie, itís possible to believe that while you personally will only supply so much entertainment to some sort of biological creature 20,000 years from now, your DVD collection could likely serve this purpose to an even greater extent. Maybe itís just me, but I guess Iíd rather be looking at movies than bones, even if they are 20,000 years old.


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    Overall
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    Ratings Based on Scale of 1 - 10 (10 being Best)

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