A few weeks ago, I took a look at the amazingly gorgeous A Beautiful Planet for my first ever 4K Ultra HD review. Mill Creek Entertainment also released a second 4K IMAX film at the same time as that release in Journey to the South Pacific. I knew going into the two films that A Beautiful Planet was more up my alley (I love space and I’m not a big fan of the seas) but I thought I would enjoy this film as well. I did, but not nearly as much as A Beautiful Planet. Journey to the South Pacific is a much more average title, though it is still a very impressive looking film in both 4K and Blu-ray.
Journey to the South Pacific is about the West Papua area of Indonesia, which is full of gorgeous beaches and seas but also has many conservation problems to deal with. There is a loose story in this documentary which follows a boy named Jawi as he takes a trip to nine different islands in Indonesia on the Kalabia, a ship which focuses on teaching kids about conserving the reef. Each island has different ocean-related concerns they have to deal with from the loss of big fish and stopping fisherman from using dynamite to catch fish (which damages the reefs) to an island that is always in danger because it is only six feet above sea level at its peak. Cate Blanchett provides narration, though this job entails reading off just a few lines here or there (the documentary’s structure doesn’t require much narration work). Her role is very understated, as the focus is on the gorgeous seascapes and the creatures that live in it.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Journey to the South Pacific, it’s just a pretty mediocre documentary in a genre (underwater documentaries) that is already quite full. It also focuses a great deal on conservation, another topic that is extremely common in documentaries. There is very little here that hasn’t been covered in other documentaries on the subject.
By far the best part of Journey to the South Pacific (and the biggest reason why it still might be worth watching even if you’ve watched a lot of these underwater documentaries), is the video quality. While this film isn’t quite as gorgeous as A Beautiful Planet (it also came out in 2013 so it is a few years older than that movie), it is still very pretty to look at. There are some amazing shots in Journey to the South Pacific, among them a scene of a gigantic school of what must have been tens of thousands of fish (and you can see each individual one on both 4K and Blu-ray), a tiny seahorse camouflaging itself against some coral, baby sea turtles running to the ocean, and various overhead shots of the islands with their beautiful blue water.
Like A Beautiful Planet, the video quality on this release is great in both 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray (both formats are included in the package). If you haven’t upgraded to 4K just yet, you will still get an amazing looking film even if you’re watching it on Blu-ray. One thing that Journey to the South Pacific has on A Beautiful Planet is that it is much more colorful. One of the biggest differences between 4K and Blu-ray is the wider range of colors that can be shown and that is actually a pretty big deal for a film like this with the colorful sea life it has. However, the rest of the film isn’t quite as clean as A Beautiful Planet but it is still very close in terms of video quality. Considering A Beautiful Planet is one of the most gorgeous films I’ve ever seen, that’s a compliment.
One area that I don’t often talk about in my reviews (especially documentary reviews) is the music. I enjoy good music but I find a lot of film scores to be unmemorable and I only really write about the music if it was something that stuck with me. Journey to the South Pacific has some amazing, lively music that definitely fits that criteria. I even added several of the songs to my Spotify playlists. Like A Beautiful Planet, this release also offers DTS X audio but as I noted in that review, I don’t really have an audio setup that allows me to review this aspect of the release.
Journey to the South Pacific only includes a few short bonus features. While none of them are unique or super informative, they do add a bit of value to this release.
- Trailer (1:50)-The trailer for the film. It’s always good to include these on home entertainment releases but most people aren’t really going to watch them after they just watched the film itself.
- Behind the Scenes of Journey to the South Pacific featurette (4:33)-The director and producer talk about what inspired them to make this documentary, how it was shot, and more. We also get a brief look at Cate Blanchett’s narration sessions.
- Webisodes-A set of five webisodes that each focus on a different part of production. Episodes are all in the 3-4 minute range. While they don’t add a ton to the package, this is easily the best extra in the set.
While Journey to the South Pacific isn’t the amazing documentary that A Beautiful Planet is, there’s nothing particularly wrong with it either. It’s just an average documentary with the gorgeous shots and awesome music being the biggest positives and the pretty dull story and lack of unique subject material being the biggest weaknesses. Journey to the South Pacific does look great in both 4K and Blu-ray though so if the documentary interests you, it is definitely worth picking up.
Journey to the South Pacific was released on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray on December 11, 2018.
Buy Journey to the South Pacific on Amazon: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray
We would like to thank Mill Creek Entertainment for the review copy of Journey to the South Pacific used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.