Thursday, April 22, 2010

Movie Reviews: Two Visually Impressive Documentaries

What better way to celebrate Earth Day than with a couple of stunning documentaries from different perspectives -- one from the greatest depths of our oceans -- and one from the far reaches of space.


Nearly three-quarters of the Earth is covered by water -- so it was no small task that this film features underwater scenes from all over the globe. The cast is an awesome mix of familiar sea life -- and wonderful beings that possibly have never been filmed before. The awe-inspiring imagery takes center stage -- with a surprisingly lighter than expected environmental message woven into tales of nature.

The new French-American documentary film by Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud is distributed in the United States by Disneynature – and narrated by Pierce Brosnan. In true Disney fashion, we can't escape the obligatory scenes of death -- but hey, that's nature for you. It just seemed like those killer scenes were a bit too heavily weighted. But overall, a spectacular visual experience. [Rated G; opens today]

Grade: B+

Hubble 3D

On my trip earlier this month to the Kennedy Space Center, I was lucky enough to see this fascinating 3D documentary – where you actually feel like you’re in the middle of the action. With our planet as a backdrop, you’re catapulted to faraway galaxies -- right beside our space shuttle astronauts.

The 3D is top-notch – at times the space-walking astronauts appear right in front of you as they take on the daunting task of repairing the ill-functioning Hubble telescope. Along the way, you’ll see mind-blowing images like you've never seen before -- and you’ll also learn the incredible true story of how early disappointments were turned into high-reaching triumphs thanks to the bravery of a special team of men and women.

My only complaint is that narrator Leonardo DiCaprio is a bit monotone -- so grab that giant caffeine drink at the concession stand before you take your seat -- and enjoy this journey produced and directed by Toni Myers. [Rated G; in select IMAX theaters now]

Grade: A-

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