Although I did a couple of tandem jumps and some bungee jumping when I was younger, I still feel as if I've never done them before. It was so long ago that it now seems like someone else enjoyed those terrifying seconds of free fall. Today, my days of thrill-seeking are limited to riding rollercoasters, but it doesn't quite match the sensation you get when jumping from a plane or off a bridge. It's a unique feeling that can only be experienced and recreated with another daredevil jump, so it's easy to understand why people quickly acquire a taste for it and become somewhat addicted. Nothing can reproduce the excitement of the free fall, the closest we can come to soaring through skies like birds.
When watching a short documentary like 'Adrenaline Rush: The Science of Risk,' I am as equally inspired as I am envious. The cameras fall through the air along with the jumpers, giving viewers a reasonably good idea of what it's like to plummet down to Earth at terminal velocity. Sometimes the skydivers play games or demonstrate their skills for flying before having to parachute the rest of the way down. Base jumpers — parachuting from a building, bridge or cliff — are also given some serious attention as we meet a small team at the Fjords of Norway, allowing viewers to join in a jumps thanks to a camera strapped on one of the men. And we're also introduced to the late Adrian Nicholas, a British skydiver who holds records for the most jumps and the longest unassisted human flight. Sadly, he died during one jump three years after his appearance here.
From director Marc Fafard, who later went on to make three more IMAX documentaries, the short film tries to explore the physiological response and possibly a psychological explanation for why people enjoy such risk-taking activities. But there is only so much that can be accomplish in a 37-minute feature that also wants to show video clips of skydivers and base jumpers. The best the filmmakers are able to do is provide a gravely simplified look at the chemical reactions between neurons and the reasons for why such activities are addictive. Some minor narrative about a little boy's first day at school also interrupts the overall pace, but is forgivable when the adrenaline and excitement he experiences relates back to risk-taking as a small taste of the thrill for free-falling.
The real highlight is the breezy discussion on the history of skydiving and the human desire to fly like the birds, relating as far back as Leonardo da Vinci and his inventions to achieve that goal. While the movie continues to show more free-falling jumps, images of da Vinci's ideas are interspersed throughout. Our narrator George Morris explains a few of the flying contraptions, which include hand gliders and a very crude concept sketch for what we now call a helicopter. Most impressive of all is one illustration of a man holding on to what looks like the earliest known drawing for a parachute. Towards the end of the video, the focus shifts to Katarina Ollikainen and Nicholas building the legendary painter's apparatus to his detailed specifications and putting it to the test.
All too short and barely scratching at the surface, 'Adrenaline Rush: The Science of Risk' is a terrifically entertaining short doc nonetheless, inspiring this viewer to find a plane from which to jump a.s.a.p.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Image Entertainment brings 'Adrenaline Rush' to Blu-ray on a Region Free, BD25 disc inside a blue eco-lite keepcase. At startup, the disc goes straight to a main menu with music and full-motion clips.
'Adrenaline Rush' skydives its way unto Blu-ray with a terrific looking 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (1.78:1). Possibly struck from the original 65mm negative intended for IMAX 15/70 theaters, the transfer is beautifully sharp and detailed, allowing viewers to enjoy the amazing scenery while also keeping a close eye on the jumpers. From time to time, scenes that are slightly less than satisfying creep into the presentation, but they're not too damaging. Contrast is comfortably bright with crisp, clean whites and black levels are accurately deep, providing the image with plenty of depth. Colors are bold and bright throughout, particularly the primaries used in parachutes and the skydiving outfits.
For anyone who's seen these short documentaries on the big screen, you know that part of the IMAX experience is also the sound quality, and this high-def presentation doesn't disappoint.
After an amusing intro where strobe lights circle the room and progressively speed up, essentially testing our system's capabilities for smooth, fluid panning, the DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack moves into a more subtle and immersive exhibition. The rears are continuously employed to deliver mild discrete effects, but mostly reserved for expanding the soundfield with the musical score or the sonic wave caused by free-falling jumpers. The voice of narrator George Morris is perfectly audible and well-prioritized while channel separation is seamless, generating a very wide and welcoming soundstage. The mid-range is precise and appreciably extensive, allowing the music to fill the room with rich clarity detail. Most impressive is a tight, punchy low-end which gives the original songs and a couple boomy scenes some serious weight and presence.
Only available supplements is a small collection of previews for other IMAX features on Blu-ray.
'Adrenaline Rush: The Science of Risk' is another great short doc from IMAX that looks at skydiving, base jumping and the human desire to fly with the birds. Although the science aspect referred to in the title is a bit wanting, the amazing camerawork and cinematography more than makes up for it. The Blu-ray arrives with excellent video and an awesome audio presentation. Unfortunately, there are no significant supplements to speak of, making this bare-bones release most appealing to collectors of IMAX movies.