Who remembers those Nova science features that were shown in school growing up? I sure do. Being a bit of a science geek growing up, they always interested me quite a bit. Perhaps that is why I was interested when I saw the solicitation for The Creeping Garden.
The Film: 3.5/5
The Creeping Garden is similar to those old Nova features. This time, we focus deeply on slime molds. That is right, slime molds. Not too sure what those are? Well, this is the documentary for you.
Starting out with news broadcasts talking about the discovery of slime molds in citizen’s backyards, we just jump right in. It turns out that when people discovered this strange, pulsating mass in their yards, they thought that they might be aliens. Could this be some otherworldly creature that could be here to study or attack us straight out of The Blob? Nah, they just stumbled upon a slime mold.
As the viewer will see across the course of this feature, slime molds are quite interesting. And they are quite odd as well. The filmmakers have assembled a couple of different types of content to create this feature. We spend some time following an amateur enthusiast going through wooded areas on the hunt. Mixed in alongside that, we see interviews with scientists that study slime molds. And to bridge everything together, we get tons of footage of slime mold behavior mixed with the soundtrack.
While as interesting as it is to meet the people who study slime molds, the most interesting is seeing their behavior and how they can be manipulated. The Creeping Garden presents plenty of footage showing the movement of the slime molds and how it reacts to stimuli. We even see experiments with slime molds. Some experiments are using them to create a bio computer, to create music, to operate with the movement of a dummy with near-realistic motion. All of this is a very fascinating look into the slime molds and how they react.
While a science geek from my youth, I was not in love with this feature. There is tons of fun information here and the interviews were enjoyable. But there really was just nothing that just took this feature to the next level. The sci-fi style mood that they tried to start the feature off with and run underneath the course of the feature didn’t fully work. Despite all of this, the content was undeniably strong. So, I still think this was a good watch, but certainly not great. I really don’t think it will hold up to future repeated viewings.
Picture Quality: 4/5
The Creeping Garden is often mesmerizing to watch. The transfer does a good job of offering up crystal clear picture of the magnified plasma molds for the viewer to watch. I didn’t find any noticeable artifacts in any of those shots. The weaknesses in the video all show up as a result of older and inferior sources. Everything else looks fantastic.
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
The LPCM 2.0 track supplies two important pieces to the film. One, the audio in all the interviews is crystal clear. This is important for the documentary aspect and nothing is lost. The second part is atmospheric. The score the plays under the entirety of the feature is full of moody music that soundtrack delivers quite appropriately.
Packaging and Special Features: 3.5/5
Audio Commentary: Tim Grabham and Jasper Sharp get together to give behind the scenes information on various aspects of filming the documentary.
Return to the Fungarium: More time spent at the Kew Gardens with Bryn Dentiger.
Biocomputer Music: The documentary offers a segment with people who are interacting with slime molds via music. This featurettes offers more of this.
Feeding Habits of Physarum: Short, but in-depth discussion on how the slime molds eat and what they prefer.
Angela Mele’s Animated Slime Moulds: Accompanied by a short bit of information about her, this included animation is what is used in the closing credits of the documentary.
Cinema Iloobia Shorts: Milk, Rotten – These are two shorts displaying magnified and slow motion subjects.
Paramusical Ensemble: A very interesting and innovative use of slime molds. This musical composition includes a string quartet and motor-impaired patients. Electrical activity from the patients passes through the Brain-Computer Music Interfacing system. I’d say that this is the best special feature included.
Bonus CD: Features the soundtrack from the presentation.
Most of these features are pretty interesting as an inclusion, but they are really just accompanying pieces. I can’t see anyone desiring to really revisit any of them. I imagine a viewer would watch them once after they’ve seen the documentary feature and be done with them. The one standout that I could see revisiting is the Paramusical Ensemble.
Arrow Academy presents this in a 3-disc amaray. Included is inside artwork as well as a booklet with more information on The Creeping Garden.
The Creeping Garden sure hits all the right spots for those fascinated with natural sciences. I found the content rather engrossing and reasonably educational. The sci-fi theme and tone they squeezed into it didn’t do too much for me, but it also didn’t really detract from the documentary aspect. The quality of the presentation is strong and the composition is great. The filmmakers did a great job of presenting the oddity that is the slime mold. The extras are nothing spectacular, but pretty good. Arrow Academy has brought us something unconventional, but very interesting. This is definitely worth at least one watch, but I do question the replay value. I’m glad that Arrow Academy is bringing us things like The Creeping Garden.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.