Sunday, March 16, 2008

Don't get the popcorn wet

The 3-D effects of the new IMAX movie "Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk" are so extreme that when a raft slaps through rapids on the Colorado River you're sure the big splash is going to land in your lap. I found myself instinctively guarding the popcorn bag from the spray flying at us.

Thanks to a water-crazy editor at the P-I, the four us went yesterday to an exclusive, pre-opening screening of the new film. I didn't get the details, but it sounded like Editorial Page Editor Mark Trahant won the group screening, with free tickets for all, by finishing first in a quiz about water policy, which happens to be one of his specialties. Despite a couple of shortcomings, the movie offers spectacular, awe-inspiring vistas of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River, and it psyched Michelle and me to reprise our visit to the area on our upcoming Pie in the Sky road trip. (The above photo is a publicity still from the movie.)

Beyond its 3D and IMAX effects, "Grand Canyon Adventure" is equal parts nature tour, history lesson and conservation sermon. Robert Redford narrates (giveaway No. 1 that preaching will be involved) as a small group rafts and kayaks down the river, noting the water loss in two big dam-created lakes, exploring the changing features of the canyon riverbed and, of course, thrillingly running the rapids.

Unfortunately, given that this is how they're marketing the film, the 3D aspect is the least impressive part of the experience. As in most 3D movies, the filmmakers overuse the gimmick, and once you've jumped out of the way of a water drop or two, or a kayak oar swinging at your head, the whole thing gets old and distracting. And anyway, the jutting props can't compete with the natural grandeur of the canyon and the river, especially in the giant IMAX format, which truly is impressive.

Based on those "regular" IMAX scenes alone, I'd recommend the movie, although none of us could muster much more than 2 gliomas for the picture as a whole.

Semi-coincidentally, last night after dinner we put on "Into the Wild," last year's Oscar-nominated movie about the college-age kid ("Alexander Supertramp") who drops out of society and heads off to live by his wits in Alaska, with many excellent adventures along the way. Among his journeys is a kayak trip down the same stretch of the Colorado that we experienced in the afternoon. Michelle and I loved this Sean Penn-directed movie when it came out last year -- her review is here -- and the girls both enjoyed it last night.

I don't know if we'll be lucky enough to get in the river on our trip, but we'll surely visit it, with pics and stories to come.

1 comment:

freda said...

I haven't been to the grand canyon yet, I will have to rectify that, it really looks beautiful in the photographs.