Saturday, August 25, 2007

OCEAN WONDERLAND 3D: Environs Lesson

OCEAN WONDERLAND 3D (documentary, IMAX presentation, KL)
Cast: The denizens of the reefs
Directed by Jean-Jacques Mantello
Time: 40 minutes
Rating: * * 1/2

PREAMBLE: If you have dreamt of going scuba-diving into the fascinating world of coral reefs but never had the chance to do so, this is a wonderful alternative. You will see the denizens of the deep up-close – and don’t even get wet!

WHAT"S IT ABOUT? "Ocean Wonderland 3D" takes us on a tour of the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and the Bahamas with a friendly sea turtle named Aris as our guide. Well, Aris fancies himself more of an educator than just a wildlife narrator, providing interesting details of fellow critters like the pouting grouper, a playful dolphin, majestic eagle rays and the voracious sharks. Of course, we also get to visit the cousins of Nemo, the clown fish.

COOL OR NOT? In the immersive 3D format, we are always tempted to reach out and grab the subjects that seem to flirt in front of our eyes. Indeed, Aris invites us to ‘have a go’ and pat his dolphin friend who loves to show off his dancing skills. There are also other underwater ballet performances – by a shoal of yellow snappers, trumpet fish and barracuda, all accompanied by the captivating music scores of Christophe Jacquelin, performed by the Sofia Symphony Orchestra.

The colourful and idyllic world of our planet’s largest reefs is not without danger and conflict. Here, the food chain system applies and predators like the shark, groupers and barracuda are always in search of prey, providing a few moments of excitement for viewers. Other ‘threatening’ scenes include those of puffers and a poisonous sea snake that swims menacingly close to our nose. Still, the action here is not as exciting as those of "Sharks 3D" although there is also a brief shot of a ‘feeding frenzy’ by the underwater carnivores.

By the way, "Ocean Wonderland 3D" is the predecessor to "Sharks 3D" of 2004, which was also directed by Jean-Jacques Mantello. "Ocean Wonderland 3D" was shot in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef as well as the Bahamas during a four-month expedition in 2001. The movie, released in 2003, is supported and endorsed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the WWF, among others. As such, this ‘educational’ tour includes appeals to stop environmental pollution and help maintain the fragile and endangered ecosystem of the reefs.

THE LOWDOWN: "Ocean Wonderland 3D" will be both a cinematic treat and an interesting lesson for young students. It will teach them to appreciate our corals and help preserve them for the next generations.


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