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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Vikings: Journey to New Worlds arrives on DVD following a successful 2005 run in IMAX theaters across the world. This epic – which clearly had a high budget – is the IMAX equivalent of a summer blockbuster. You have a wide-appeal subject matter, top-flight production values, and lots of special effects. The difference between Vikings and, say, Pirates of the Caribbean is that you might actually learn something from this 40-minute feature. I know I did.

Shot on location in Greenland, Iceland, and Newfoundland, the movie does several different things. It traces the journeys of the Vikings (who came to America 500 years before Christopher Columbus) as they set out to find new worlds; it informs us about famed Vikings Eric the Red and his son Leif Ericsson; and it tells us more than a few things about the Viking lifestyle. Most interesting to me was a detailed explanation of how they built their famed ships, some of which were capable of holding almost 200 men.

The film uses authentic recreations with actors, as well as illustrations, computer simulations, and even a brief scene of animation to convey its information. This varied combination keeps things lively and entertaining, even as it is teaching you something. I’ve seen IMAX movies that were dry, like a burned-out science teacher droning on in a monotone. This is not one of them. Vikings has energy and a palpable passion for its subject matter that keeps you involved. It serves as a nice general introduction that may stimulate viewers to learn more.

Like most IMAX movies, Vikings loses something on the small screen (it was meant to be seen three stories high). Still, the imagery is breathtaking. The locations are lovingly photographed, and the historical recreations are handled with skill. This is also one of the best-sounding DVDs I’ve ever heard. The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is truly awesome. (A digital DTS track is also available.)

In addition to the feature, the DVD contains a 22-minute “making of” feature. Other features include optional English subtitles, and three language tracks (English, French, and Spanish). Vikings: Journey to New Worlds is available on DVD from Vista Point Entertainment with a list price of $14.95.

( out of four)

Vikings is unrated. The running time is 40 minutes.

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