Under the Sea 3D (2009)

Genres - Nature  |   Sub-Genres - Animals, Natural Environments  |   Release Date - Feb 13, 2009 (USA - IMAX)  |   Run Time - 40 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - G
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Review by Jason Buchanan

A word to the wise: if you have the chance to see Under the Sea 3D in an IMAX theater, take it. 3-D technology has come a long way since Creature from the Black Lagoon drifted eerily into theaters back in 1954, and from the stunning opening shot to the breathtaking final frame, Under the Sea 3D has enough awe-inspiring moments to silence even the most ardent skeptic. And it's no wonder, since Under the Sea 3D director Howard Hall has plenty of experience making underwater documentaries. Touted as "The Rolls Royce of 3-D," Hall's fourth dip into the deep is likely the closest most viewers will ever come to floating across the ocean floor and encountering creatures that seem so alien it's sometimes difficult to accept that we share the same planet. The 3-D technology used to bring Under the Sea 3D to life on the big screen is nothing less than stunning, making even the highly effective RealD 3D system used for such films as Beowulf, Monster House, and My Bloody Valentine (2009) look like red and blue anaglyph.

Narrated by Jim Carrey, Under the Sea 3D takes us to such exotic locations as New Guinea, Southern Australia, and other areas in the Indo-Pacific region, where we cruise across alien landscapes that exist far beneath the ocean surface, and come literally face to face with the incredible creatures that inhabit them. In addition to learning how these creatures live, hunt, and mate, we also learn how global warming and ocean acidification threaten to destroy such remarkable underwater kingdoms as Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

In a way, Under the Sea 3D is the ultimate video aquarium; filling our entire field of vision and stretching as far into the depths as the eye can see, the film affords us the rare opportunity to experience life on the ocean floor firsthand, without so much as even putting on a wetsuit. Children reared on Pixar will see it as something of a real-life Finding Nemo, and even adults are sure to flinch as a hungry cuttlefish strikes its prey with astonishing speed and pinpoint precision. But the imagery isn't the only thing that distinguishes Under the Sea 3D from the vast majority of underwater documentaries, because in addition to featuring narration that is both informative and humorous, the use of natural sound is especially vivid. Bubbles formed by volcanic gasses ascend from the ocean floor to the surface, engulfing us from all sides, and one sea dweller's crab dinner is certain to make seafood lovers salivate as the crack of the shell echoes through the theater. By the time we're sent out into the light with a gentle kiss from a sea lion, we feel as if we'll have to take a submarine to the surface just to reach our cars. And for anyone who longs to experience the mysteries of the deep but doesn't have the time for diving lessons, nor the funds to finance a deep-sea expedition, it's a unique opportunity that's well worth the price of admission.