Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Run Time: 90 minutes
Advances in film technology has increased the popularity (and subsequent output) of nature programming, so it should come as no surprise that BBC has begun to dip into the world of 3D visuals. Unfortunately, the release of this feature-length documentary film about our feathered friends also marks another trend: the repurposing of previously used material. Wings 3D is merely a re-release of the 2014 Best Buy exclusive film, Winged Planet 3D, which was simply a truncated film version of the BBC series from 2011, “Earthflight.” This same footage has been passed around plenty of times, although this does not detract from the visual spectacle these subjects provide the 3D format. Also being released is Tiny Giants 3D, which is made up of footage from the three-hour BBC miniseries from 2014, “Hidden Kingdoms.”
High definition cameras instantly lent themselves to the nature program, making a series like “Planet Earth” popular to those seeking entertainment and education alike, and 3D has the same capability with the right material. Perhaps the reason this particular film has already been released previously on Blu-ray 3D is because of how easily these particular winged creatures lend themselves to the medium. It has become common practice within blockbusters utilizing 3D formatting to have a plethora of floating visual distractions to enhance the extra dimension of visuals, typically with falling ash and debris in superhero films. Not only does the flight of a solitary bird stand out in this format, but there are few other subjects that are as suitable for 3D than the swarms of birds that take over the screen in Wings 3D.
The previously aired series and its subsequent 3D film re-edits and re-releases is highlighted by the bird’s-eye view that is gathered with a series of clever filming techniques. They filmed imprinted flocks from microlites, wild flocks from model gliders and silent drones, and achieved the actual bird’s-eye view with cameras mounted on the back of trained birds. All of this made up six hour-long episodes which aired at the end of 2011 through the first month of 2012 on BBC, but has been pared down to a mere 85-minutes for Wings 3D. Though fans of the educational nature program may find Earthflight a more suitable choice, the truncated length and addition of 3D will likely make Wings a bigger hit among younger audience members. Other elements remain basically untouched, including the narration from David Tennant.
The single disc release includes a 3D Blu-ray disc, which is also capable of playing in 2D if the proper equipment is missing. This is an adequate option, though I would recommend seeking out “Earthflight” if 3D is not an option. There are no special features, which is disappointing considering the behind-the-scenes effort that went into the filming of some of these shots.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10
Historical Significance: 3/10
Special Features: 0/10