by Jay Seaver
Many, if not most, IMAX screens are located in museums or similar locations, so it's kind of expected that what they play will not only be friendly to children, but "good for them", too. And that's okay; there's nothing wrong with a little education, and adults can often stand to absorb a little knowledge. There's a difference, though, between a movie where the audience might learn something and one that feels like it would be shown in school.Come to think of it, there's something sort of funny about the idea of this playing in an elementary school classroom. I'm imagining a bunch of six-year-olds, sitting cross-legged on the floor, fidgeting through the first few minutes because they want to see big animals, not hear about South Africa's foresight in setting up on of the continent's first National Park systems.
"There are certainly far worse ways to spend an hour with your kids."
Of course, the kind of kid I was, I'd like to see the animals actually doing something. Rhinos charge, right? Lions hunt and roar. Instead, though, these guys just seem to be hanging around, wishing the lady in the jeep and her buddy with the gigantic camera would just go away. Which, to be fair, is probably a good thing; it means the crew escaped injury and didn't harass wild animals just to amuse some brats in a movie theater.
That's not to say the movie is bad. It's just not into the cheap thrills. The vistas and animals are as beautiful as advertised, and though the 3-D potential is most overtly used during a CGI open, IMAX 3-D is still the next best thing to being there. Still, the camera work is a little disappointing; I recognize that it's hard to do much with a hundred-kilo camera shooting an insane amount of 65mm film every minute, but both the "slightly behind the guide" perspective and the lack of angle changes reminded me of a video game.
Much of what you see is on the nifty side, though. For example, who doesn't love baby elephants? They're playful children but still twice one's own size. The bit with the giraffes is also intriguing, too - the film's slow pace allows it to demonstrate how, despite how well-evolved this animal is for high grazing, it's unique build leaves it very vulnerable when stopping at a water hole.
Indeed, that slow, patient pacing, along with the relatively quiet content probably means that the movie's intended and ideal audience is, in fact, small children. Any kid old enough that the theater won't actually damage his or her ears can see this, maybe learn a thing or two, and not have to be taken from the theater crying. It may come across as a little slow and uneventful for those of us whose age has reached double digits, but we aren't the movie's intended audience, at least not entirely. And slowing down probably won't hurt us any.So, if you've got kids, take 'em. They'll enjoy it, and probably ask you for a stuffed elephant from the gift shop on the way out.
link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12138&reviewer=371
originally posted: 05/06/05 13:30:58