The United States today has roughly 400 national parks spread from one end of the country to the other. That includes parks not only in the lower 48 states, but in Alaksa and Hawaii, too. They are among America’s greatest collective natural treasures. Sadly though, many of America’s parks are at risk thanks to the nation’s current ruling body. They need to be protected. That message is driven home in stunning fashion in MacGillivray Freeman Films’ new national parks doc National Parks Adventure. Scheduled to be released July 17 via Shout! Factory, this powerful 43-minute presentation effectively drives home that message, too. That is done in part through the story at the center of the doc. It will be discussed shortly. The doc’s cinematography adds to its impact even more, and will be discussed a little later. Its bonus material puts the finishing touch to its presentation. Each element is important in its own way to the whole of its presentation. When these elements are coupled with the doc’s packaging and pricing, the whole of these elements makes the program in whole a strong, important reminder of why America’s national parks are great getaways and in turn, why they must be protected from those who would set out to let them be destroyed.
MacGillivray Freeman Films’ new documentary National Parks Adventure is a beautiful, loving tribute to America’s national parks system. It is a strong reminder of why the parks system must be protected and preserved from the forces that set out to let any harm come to them, such as those in office today. That message is presented so strongly in part through the story at the doc’s center. The story follows a trio of adventurers who make their way from the redwood forests of California up to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, climbing and exploring various parks along the way. Viewers get to see for themselves along the way, the beauty of some of the nation’s greatest national wonders. The only downside to the story is the fact that for the mention of the parks that span the nation, the trio’s adventure spanks only half (if that much) of the country. To that end, maybe there will be a “sequel” of sorts that will take the trio (or another trio) across the other half of the country on to the East coast. After all, audiences get a glimpse into Everglades National Park, so it would make sense to give a little more thorough look at that and other parks on the East coast. That aside, the journey that is undertaken here is still one that is certain to keep viewers engaged, regardless if only for the journey. Of course, the journey at the center of the doc is only one part of what makes the doc engaging. Its cinematography is really the program’s cornerstone.
National Parks Adventure’s cinematography is stunning to say the absolute least. Shot entirely on 15perf 65mm 3D cameras, the parks presented in their full beauty from the ground and the air. The redwood forests’ full presentation is moving, especially as the program takes viewers back in time to the creation of the national parks system by President Roosevelt. The national parks of the southwest present some of the most awe-inspiring visuals of the program. The rich contrast of the sun and shade against the rocks in various shots will leave viewers saying wow. This applies just as much as the trio rides its bikes down the sheer cliffs of one of the parks on their journey. The shots of the ice cave in Michigan is itself strong in its visuals. Maybe it’s the way the light hits the ice and snow that hangs from the cave’s surface. Maybe it’s just the protruding structures themselves. Maybe it’s all of that combined. Either way, it is another memorable moment that again clearly displays the expert talent of those behind the cameras. One can only imagine what these (and the program’s other various stunning shots) must have looked like on a full IMAX screen if one was not lucky enough to catch the program on said screen. Considering how rich the visuals are on the small screen (of course small is relative, since screens can reach upwards of 60-inches — if not more today) they must have looked so much more enthralling on an IMAX screen. When the depth that the cinematography is considered along with the very importance of this program’s story, the two elements obviously give the program quite the depth overall, and in turn gives audiences reason to watch this doc at least once. Even as much as the noted elements do to the positive for National Parks Adventure, they are not its only key elements. The bonus material plays into the doc’s presentation, too
The bonus material included with the program’s home release includes separated “making of” featurette segments that focus on different shooting locations as well as commentary on the making of from those behind the camera. Audiences learn through the “making of” segments that filming the Michigan shoot happened actually because a shoot at another location did not play out how the crew and director had wanted, and that things only got more difficult with that shoot. Not to give away too much, but that difficulty included technical issues raised by the weather. Viewers also learn that the crew filmed far more parks than were shown. In all, it’s revealed, that the crew filmed at 25 of the nation’s national parks. So obviously not all of the footage was used. It’s too bad that none of the unused footage was included as deleted scenes. It would have been interesting to see some of that footage. The bonus interviews included with the bonuses includes a brief interview with narrator and veteran actor Robert Redford. Yes, that Robert Redford. He states outright during his interview that “national parks are extremely important to protect and preserve.” He explains his love for the parks and for mother nature in general started when he was 11, after he survived polio and that “there is something almost spiritual in the power of the parks.” That in itself makes for its own share of interest. As if that devotion to this program (and to nature) isn’t enough for audiences, director Greg MacGillivray himself seconds Redford’s thoughts in his own words. Those statements give firm certainty as to the purpose of this program. It was made as a means to call attention to the importance of protecting the parks so that future generations will be able to appreciate them. Considering this, and the depth added to the program through the bonus making of featurettes, the appreciation will be not only for the parks, but for the work put into making a program aimed at calling people to want to protect the parks, too. That being the case, it will leave audiences agreeing that this doc in whole is a successful call to action as well as a tribute to some of America’s greatest natural wonders, especially when the bonus material is considered alongside the program’s main story and its cinematography.
National Parks Adventure is not the first program of its kind, aimed at bringing attention to a certain issue while also trying to entertain audiences. Even despite this, it success at doing both without letting that awareness factor overpower the entertainment. This is proven in part through the story, which follows three people making their way through some of America’s national parks. The cinematography used in each park does plenty to make that journey engaging and entertaining. The bonus material adds its own depth to the program especially through the bonus commentary. That’s because that commentary certifies that this program is in fact an activist doc of sorts. Even with this revelation, audiences will note that it doesn’t overpower the program’s entertaining elements. That balance of awareness and entertainment makes the program in whole an adventure that audiences will definitely enjoy. It will be available July 24 and can be pre-ordered online via Shout! Factory’s online store. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:
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