Film Review: Under the Sea 3D

Exotic, eye-opening 3D underwater journey to an octopus’ garden in the shade.

A funny thing happened to the production crew of IMAX’s Under the Sea 3D (the folks responsible for Deep Sea 3D and Into the Deep 3D) on their way to Rabaul on the island of New Britain in the East Indies. A volcano erupted. No problem! The opening of the film now includes fire and smoke raging from the mountain and a hail of ash as their boat retreated to Linden Harbor. There they filmed a large Crown Jellyfish, a Wonderpus Octopus and a new species of Lionfish discovered a few years ago in Indonesia.

The Coral Triangle, where Under the Sea 3D begins, is home to 40% of the world’s reef wildlife population, including more than 75% of documented coral species and approximately 3,000 species of fish. Also present are sea turtles, mollusks, crustaceans, and marine mammals such as dolphins, whales and Australian seals. The seals are so anxious to be photographed that they have to be shooed away from the camera lenses, and it is a pleasure to watch their exceptionally expressive faces up close. Unfortunately, there are only about 12,000 Australian seals left in existence and they are facing extinction under the menace of global warming. Sadly, they are not alone.

Hidden in the simple but instructive commentary are several warnings of a global disaster waiting in the near future unless mankind pays more attention to the effects of increasing water temperatures on animal populations. Narrator Jim Carrey is the perfect man for the job, squeezing the humor from a child-friendly script by director Howard Hall and Toni Myers. Every single species impresses us with its singular adaptation to ocean conditions. And the rhythm of the film perfectly captures the rhythm of the ocean, so that we quickly leave the workaday world behind amidst the profound stillness and singular beauty of this remarkable underwater environment.

One would think that the IMAX screen would put some distance between audience and viewer, but thanks to the addition of 3D glasses, very smartly designed, each member of the audience has the feeling that the animals are sitting on their lap. It is an almost uncanny sensation, and do not be surprised if you see children trying to pet the screen, indifferent to the fact it may be six stories tall; all members of the audience feel just inches away.