Sanctum (3D)

February 2, 2011

The expectation that an audience will suspend disbelief and identify with an onscreen world and its characters is something I usually consider a fair request. But when the film in question itself suffers a crisis of identity, then the necessary contract between the filmmakers and the audience has been violated, and thus spectatorial alignment void. When access to an onscreen world is broken even if ‘moments’ are beautiful, the whole becomes fragmented and the experience abrasive for the viewer. Due to some terribly trite dialogue and a complete breakdown of generic and tonal consistency, Sanctum 3D (2010) is one such film that sadly fails to communicate with or suture in its audience.

Opening with an incredibly beautiful shot of a diver floating through an abyss of water the film offers first a notion of disembodiment. Reflecting well the content that will follow, Sanctum suggests already that the physical human body and its connectedness to other weighted objects or entities is not a given: constancy and attachment both psychological rather than physiological constructs. Cutting to a village in Papua New Guinea (although the film was actually shot in Australia on the Gold Coast), Sanctum briefly, and I dare say too flippantly, establishes its premise and characters: a diving expedition into a system of underwater caves soon becomes a fight for survival after storm waters flood and collapse the entrance, leaving a small group of individuals, ranging from veteran to first-time divers, with the challenge of working together for the grand prize of their lives.

Like many Australian productions before it, Sanctum is somewhat concerned with the relationship between human development and the persistence or resilience of the natural world. Illustrating this with ease, our most expert diver Frank (Richard Roxburgh) is sure to explain the wonder of the natural world by visual experience in the first instance; “Let me show you.” There is also the suggestion that the natural world is itself a force to be reckoned with and that human affinity with it is far from established, the “unknown” and compelling harsh beauty it presents formidable; “This cave’s not going to beat me.” Inauspicious as it is, the natural world is also posited as sublime; the overwhelming beauty and awe in which it inspires God-like. The unexplored areas our protagonists discover become the “sanctum” in question, and several sequences reference the bible, religious undertones resonating throughout, most notably towards the film’s end when our Christ-like Son of God performs a sort of baptism as he forgives his Father.

But even with these moments where subtext and visuals come together to achieve something worthy of serious and contemplative reflection upon issues pertaining to the human condition, the film constantly falls apart due to clumsy dialogue – dialogue that jars terribly with the visuals and abrasively halts any meditative aspects the film might otherwise champion. Moreover, its crisis of generic and tonal identity mean the films flits far too often and too disjointedly between being a serious drama, a tense horror/thriller and a light-hearted blockbuster action/adventure flick.

Forgiving its pitfalls proves difficult. Disruption in the natural flow of both the narrative and the visual story leave Sanctum a film with a great deal of promise and some truly magnificent moments but, most unfortunately, too confused for its own good.

Sanctum 3D is released in Australian cinemas on Thursday February 3 through Universal Pictures.

Written by Tara Judah for Liminal Vision.


The Green Hornet

January 22, 2011

The Green Hornet (2011) is exactly what you would imagine a collaborative effort between director Michel Gondry and writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg would be: an excessive display of cinematic excess. With its aesthetics drenched in potent artifice and its content stretched to the very limits of farce, The Green Hornet is all about how the rich and influential powers that be can do whatever such ludicrous things as they so please. Using excess to make asses out of, well, asses, watching The Green Hornet is nothing short of a rollicking good time.

Starting with a very personal memory, The Green Hornet establishes the imperfect father-son relationship between Green Hornet-to-be Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) and his father, local newspaper mogul James Reid (Tom Wilkinson). Britt leads a decidedly laddish lifestyle, partying hard with fast cars and loose women, much to his father’s chagrin. When James dies unexpectedly, Britt finds himself in charge of a paper he hasn’t the patience, skill or remotest desire to run. So how does he become the Green Hornet? Well, it is actually all down to one very bad cup of coffee that the film manages to advance forward in any kind of causal narrative trajectory. The absurdly bougie pivotal point from which the action then springs forth tells you just about everything you need to know about the focus of what is yet to come. Teaming up with his father’s employee, barista extraordinaire Kato (Jay Chou), the unlikely duo recklessly find themselves fighting crime after immaturely committing crime. From here, the Green Hornet and his nameless partner/sidekick unwittingly take on the city’s apparently poorly dressed, not quite menacing enough, and largely misunderstood crime lord Chudnofsky (expertly played by Christoph Waltz).

Chudnofsky is an old school gangster and the rise of Gucci-clad wannabes is beginning to get under his skin. Having already settled a few local issues it is only when the Green Hornet appears that Chudnofsky fully realises the extent to which the new generation, whose reputations rely largely upon aesthetics and public image as opposed to his own years of strategic planning, have no respect for tradition or the past. But Britt didn’t learn to be a twat without his father’s help and likewise it is affluence and class as well as his generational standing that are responsible for his appalling attitude towards life. Impressed upon him from an early age, Britt thinks “Trying doesn’t matter if you always fail.”  Concerned with results rather than effort, the destination rather than the journey and, above all else, the present irregardless of its history, Britt charges forward in a childish pursuit of fame and glory.

Far more of an anti-hero than a superhero (the closest thing he has to a superpower is the ability to be an almighty asshole), the Green Hornet is not actually a likeable figure in quite the usual way Hollywood protagonists tend to be. But, partner/sidekick Kato is. Balancing out assholery with endearment the duo work decidedly well: structure and subversion standing side by side.

Visually it is a veritable feast, and The Green Hornet takes Kristin Thompson’s theorising of cinematic excess to its farthest extreme: to the point where style actually becomes a character in the film – a mocking, self-reflexive one at that. Revealing artifice as substance for an entire class of insolent wankers, The Green Hornet is stupendously entertaining at every turn. Blatant in its depiction of bougie blasé, it is no coincidence that the costume for our wealthy dumb-ass is quite so literally the colour of money. Outstanding stuff.

The Green Hornet is released in Australian cinemas on Thursday January 20 through Sony Pictures.

Written by Tara Judah for Liminal Vision.

Yogi Bear

January 10, 2011

Seeing as I have no memories of my own first trip to the cinema as a child, it is somewhat comforting to now have the memory of my two nephews’ induction into the spectacular world of moving images and refined sugar. This was also the first time I have, since entering adulthood, watched a “kids’ film” with any real understanding of its target audience’s reception (this is unsurprisingly a lot easier when you’re surrounded by said audience). And what could be more perfect than seeing the visual realisation of one of my own childhood favourite cartoons made into a contemporary 3D, CGI-fest for a new generation?

Yogi Bear (2010) follows a simple enough storyline whereby the selfish, feckless Mayor  Brown (played to great comic effect by Andrew Daly) has impoverished city funds through dodgy personal expenses and now needs to find a quick cash injection to cover his ass before the upcoming election. Deciding to sell-off the beautiful but too empty too often Jellystone Park to loggers, Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh), along with; nature enthusiast/documentary filmmaker and love-interest Rachel (Anna Faris), Yogi (voiced by Dan Aykroyd) and his loveable sidekick Boo Boo (voiced by Justin Timberlake); must find a way to stop them. The “message” in the film is both simple and acceptable enough as it promotes the preservation of natural wildlife, suggesting natural environments and sustainability are preferable to primarily capitalist concerned city spaces. It may not have the subtlety or nuance of a Studio Ghibli film (whose “messages” are similar) or even the technical nouse of the admittedly more adult-aimed Where the Wild Things Are (2009), expressly using CGI for the two lead bears, but, as kids’ film, it is certainly harmless and entertaining enough.

What’s most interesting however, is that the film is presented in 3D. With so many recent 3D presentations being children’s films it is evidently the case that studios are indeed serious about continued use of the technology. The only reason they would continue to pitch it at children is if they are hoping for its longevity. Whilst many adults (and critics) remain suspect about the success of the medium, an entire generation are already being trained to see in this way. It is also worth noting that they manufacture a smaller size in 3D glasses now to cater specifically for young children. Whilst my own nephews failed to keep their glasses on for the duration (it was after all their very first time in a cinema and the film itself is short and sweet with a run-time of just eighty minutes), it certainly seemed that a majority of the children in the audience did so with aplomb. And whilst a far cry from the cartoon of my own, now all but forgotten childhood, Yogi Bear, insofar as capturing its target audience is concerned, seemed to me, smarter than the average film.

Yogi Bear is released in Australian cinemas on Thursday January 13 through Roadshow Entertainment.

Written by Tara Judah for Liminal Vision.

Gulliver’s Travels

December 24, 2010

So strange a cinematic experience I can hardly recall; my recent viewing of Rob Letterman’s take on Gulliver’s Travels (2010) was indeed anything but ordinary.

With opening credits that offered artistic vision and an interesting take on constructed images, it seemed at first glimpse as though this might actually be a film filled with charming panache. Sadly, what follows is a peculiar rendering of crass comedy mixed with odd storytelling and more pointless than poignant pop culture referencing, ad nauseam.

Gulliver (Jack Black) is an immature and pop-culture obsessed regular kinda guy who works in the mailroom at the New York Tribune. Quietly and shamefully in love with the beautiful, confident and successful Darcy (Amanda Peet), he somehow stumbles upon a three-week travel writing assignment to the Bermuda Triangle (after failing to ask her out and by applying for the job with plagiarized writing samples no less). Forgiving the set up and accepting the suspension of disbelief (if you’re able) you then find yourself transported to an alternate reality and the miniature kingdom of Liliput. Here Gulliver undergoes a series of failures and successes in a weak exploration of an uninventive and far from engaging character arc.

Leaving the particulars of the “plot” at that to focus more on the peculiarities of its execution, there is little about this film that lives up its epic title. Aside from its impressive set design, Gulliver’s Travels leaves little to be desired. From a close-up 3D vision of Jack Black’s bum crack to his pissing out a fire, this film can’t honestly be aimed at adults. Not quite a kids’ flick and not even a “dude flick”, Gulliver’s Travels is quite likely aimed at the stoner audience who enjoyed last year’s Land of the Lost (2009).

With a central relationship that neither works nor makes sense and with Emily Blunt either forgetting or not caring how to act, it is nothing short of a Christmas miracle that this film found its way to the big screen. The use of 3D starts off relatively well but somewhere along the way appears to have been abandoned like so much interest in engaging an audience. Unsure as to exactly what it was I had just watched, Gulliver’s Travels left me utterly bemused. Strange, if inconsequential, viewing.

Gulliver’s Travels is released in Australian cinemas on Boxing Day, Sunday December 26, through 20th Century Fox.

Written by Tara Judah for Liminal Vision.

Tron: Legacy

December 17, 2010

“I kept dreaming of a world I thought I’d never see.” Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) tells his son in the establishing story scene of Tron: Legacy (2010). Having studied IMAX 3D extensively for the better part of a year back in 2008 this is exactly how I’ve been feeling ever since. With my hopes – and fears – for the medium on edge for the past two years, I feel as though someone has finally understood what the technology is capable of and, with Tron: Legacy, I believe they have created a stunning, yet still reserved, display of what wonderful visual and immersive spectaculars simplistic, narrative film can offer to enhance and (quite literally) expand upon its content.

What interests me most about IMAX 3D is its relationship to the historical real and the way in which it uses immersion to enhance the comprehension of filmic content rather than just offer an entertaining experience in the first instance. With the recent spate of 3D films including a lot of crappy 2D to 3D conversion and an inordinate number of kids flicks I’ve been concerned for some time now that the medium would be lost to gimmick and glamour forever, subsequently failing to explore its more fascinating and significant relationship with tracing the historical real. Thankfully, Tron: Legacy has, in a compelling and incredibly innovative way, restored its trajectory to thinking through the links between history and experience and how any visual representation of the former requires comprehensive formal consideration to elucidate the theoretical and narrative ideas it holds.

The original Tron (1982), in addition to being a childhood favourite for many a now adult who grew up in the ’80s, is an incredible vision, and subsequent historical document of what I like to call the “future past”. The “future past” in film is a depiction of futurism that documents a contextual comprehension of what the future might either look like or the capabilities they are expected of it, and thus, necessarily, it becomes immediately after depiction, itself a document of the past. Tron: Legacy is one film that I am absolutely certain will, like its original, come to be a document of its own contextual “future past”. However, with Tron: Legacy (and indeed even Tron to some extent) the depiction of the “future past” is not so much in theorising how we might live in the future or what technological advancements might mean to society so much as it is a continuation of the contemplation surrounding interactivity and where it is that escapism intersects with real life.

The idea that both films are predicated upon concerns sharing of or access to information. Given the technological revolution called the Internet that has arrived in homes during the time spanning the two films’ release dates, notions of sharing and access have never been more relevant concerns. The issue addressed however is mostly to do with the relational converse: control. All systems of power are built upon a relational set up and so for there even to be a question of “sharing” or “access” there must first be a structure that prevents this.

Mirroring so very many times throughout the film are the structures of the real world  – where corporations and authoritative figures are in control – and the structures of “the Grid” (itself a mirror image of the “games” played in the real world) where multiple mirror imagings occur; its own creator up against an image of himself. But perhaps most significant is his inability to return to the real world and even to any longer engage in the confines of his own creation. Set aside and decidedly “off the grid” both Kevin Flynn and his son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) occupy liminal spaces between reality and fantasy. Prior to entering the Grid, we have seen Sam as an outcast who has made a “home” for himself based upon extraction from the human world and their prescribed rules. The company in which he is the major shareholder, Encom, is nothing more than a bankrolling joke to him. In a wonderfully indicative bike chase sequence early on we see Sam ride in the real world as he will once he enters the Grid: recklessly and with enough balls and abandon to physically ride off an overpass, breaking the established barriers.

Just as Sam breaks through established barriers within the narrative; hacking into Encom’s system and posting their technology for all the world to see and passing through the boundaries between the real world and the digital one; Tron: Legacy itself repeatedly breaks cinematic boundaries, creating yet another mirror between form and content. From using the most visceral and immersive thirty or forty seconds of 3D I have ever seen in cinema as its opening shot (this honestly feels more like a simulator ride than a static viewing experience), to seven times in the film expanding the dimensions of the IMAX screen to allow for an enhanced and enlarged view of the spectacle, to seamlessly switching between 2D and 3D as and when the effects call for it yet never appearing gimmicky or clunky in doing so, Tron: Legacy is an exemplary exercise in experimenta.

But returning to the narrative of the film and its relation to an historical real, there is one character in the film, Quorra (Olivia Wilde) who represents a new phase in the human/digital (r)evolution. Her role and what she represents suggests an internal evolution within gaming and the digital world. The implications of this are astronomical, particularly as she transcends the barrier between the real world and the Grid, leaving the film with “integration” as its final frontier. What Tron: Legacy is tracing here is the fascinating move from an historical document (Tron) to its conceived progression (Tron: Legacy) which then charters the transcendence of the real to computer generating and digital enhancement, through an onscreen evolutionary event and back to the real (diegetic) world. Both spatially and temporally this is an entirely new way of viewing historical representation and yet so wonderfully is in and of itself an historical document as it suggests to us; its own vision of the future for “user interactivity”, human/digital integration and a move beyond understanding history as a series of “events” and into understanding history as a constant, evolving process that occurs across a multitude of platforms and instantaneously through communicable affect. Whilst I appreciate it can be said of any film that it is in and of itself an historical document of one form or another, Tron: Legacy is unique in that its central call for viewing and experiencing cinema is as an onscreen process of evolution in interactivity, not just technologically speaking, but also with regards to the very linear understanding we hold towards historical discourse.

“Sometimes life has a way of moving you past life and hope.” is what Kevin Flynn tells Sam towards the film’s end and I would venture that sometimes cinema has a way of moving its audiences past traditional and expected viewing experiences and the hope for what they might achieve. Tron: Legacy is not only an incredible and deeply affecting experience in immersive IMAX 3D (and it would remiss of me not to at least mention how truly awesome the Daft Punk soundtrack is at achieving a large proportion of that affect), but it is also a pioneering film for our continued understanding not only of modes of viewing experience, but also the way in which they construct contextual comprehension. Aware of itself to the last, Tron: Legacy is a signpost for what cinema can be and it is one of the most beautiful visions I have ever seen.

Tron: Legacy is released in Australian cinemas on Thursday December 16 but despite wherever else it might be playing there is only one way to see this film and that is in immersive IMAX with 3D. For Melbournian readers of LV, you can see Tron: Legacy at the Melbourne Museum IMAX in Carlton and I implore you to do so.

Written by Tara Judah for Liminal Vision.

Harry Potter doesn’t really need to recruit audiences anymore. When you get to the first installment of a two-part ending for a seven book/film franchise it’s fair to say that people have had more than enough time to know whether or not they’re fans of the boy’s wizardry ways. As someone who doesn’t have a particularly vested interest in the franchise I won’t speculate too much on the content of the latest installment, but if you do want to read about that I’d recommend you head over both Cinema Autopsy and Philmology where Thomas Caldwell and Josh Nelson (respectively) have written intelligent, informative reviews of the film.

Following Warner Bros’ announcement in early October that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 would not be presented in 3D as “they will not have a completed 3D version of the film within the release date window”, I wondered whether or not the sections of the film intended to maximize use of the 3D would seem silly or out-of-place in its 2D counterpart. With this in mind, I went into the IMAX Melbourne Museum looking for missed 3D opportunities and considering its effect on the presented film as a whole.

Melbourne’s IMAX museum has the third largest IMAX screen in the world. Seeing a film in that auditorium is as a result far more visually and even experientially impressive than a trip to your local multiplex. Furthermore, much like Melbourne’s Astor Theatre, when you go to the IMAX you are always watching film and not some digital file with flatter, lower resolution and poorer colour and sound quality. Further to this, there is a much smaller chance that something will go wrong in the projection booth because 1) film is a more reliable and predictable format and 2) it is a single screen cinema which means it is constantly monitored by a fully trained film projectionist. Taking these points into consideration, the IMAX made for the perfect environment to notice what was missing in terms of the abandoned 3D.

One of the problems in shooting a film for 3D conversion rather than shooting it in 3D in the first instance is that it lends itself to the gimmicky, ephemeral use of the medium. Shooting a film in 3D (as, by way of example, is most often the case with the IMAX natural history documentaries) affords the film with a cohesive depth of field whereas conversion tends often to add a layer rather than a dimension to an image that already exists (it is a matter of perception and some viewers less versed in 3D may not always notice the difference, but there is one.) Moreover, the gimmicky “coming out of the image” that you see with so much popular fare is actually a little counter-intuitive as it detracts from the “immersive” intent of the technology.

In Deathly Hallows there are two types of images that the filmmakers most likely thought would “benefit” from the technology: the ones where things do indeed come out at the audience (most notably here a snake, pictured above left) and the ones where the environment is supposed to reflect the mental and emotional states of its protagonists, by which I mean the shots of the cold, empty English countryside which I have no doubt would have felt even more barren and endless with the added depth of field. Further to this, elements informed by physics like the ‘dirigible plums’ would have been afforded with a more fitting spatial and gravitational visual rendering and the fast-paced chase sequence at the film’s beginning would too have had far more haptic effect with the layering of a third dimension.

There is also an animated story-telling sequence in the film that would have been fascinating in 3D. As it stands the imagery is already losing a dimension to its very form and as such feels a little displaced amidst the narrative. Adding a third dimension to a flat image of shadow puppetry would have given the sequence another layer which, as a story being re-told through an imaginative visual would certainly have added to the acknowledgment of the “problems of history” critical concern that necessarily comes with retelling and reimagining mythological folk-lore. Its relationship to its origins would then have been at yet another level of remove which, in the pursuit of historical truth (something the quest narrative is always concerned with) is not only significant but poignantly so.

Taking these points into consideration how then does Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows hold up in 2D? I’d say surprisingly well. For me, whether it’s 2D or 3D there is something to be said for “the IMAX experience”. The very dimensions of the screen along with its slight curvature and the perfect incline of seating in the auditorium mean that the viewer is always positioned in such a way that optimizes dimensional perception. If you are going to see Deathly Hallows (and be honest, you already know whether or not you are) do yourself a favour and see it at the IMAX.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is released in Australian cinemas and is playing at the Melbourne Museum IMAX from Thursday November 18.

Written by Tara Judah for Liminal Vision.

One of the principle agreements between filmmaker and audience is that the audience will engage in disavowal for the duration of the film and subsequently involve in an active “suspension of disbelief.” The degree to which a viewer must suspend their disbelief is determined, within the confines of the viewing contract, by the parameters established at the outset of the film. The opening sequence for Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010) does this with aplomb. Opening onto a dark, wet night in Tokyo, hundreds of faceless humans cross a busy road; their faces protected from the elements by umbrellas. One solitary female stands still, without an umbrella, patiently waiting as the bullet-time raindrops continue to fall all around her. Giving the audience time to adjust to the tone and aesthetic of the film, she then violently turns and attacks a passer-by: she is infected. Before the film advances four years to the present day, the audience are told here everything they need to know in order to engage in the film world and to appropriately suspend their disbelief. 1) It’s a dark world. 2) There is a threat. 3) Everyone is hiding behind “Umbrella”; but they won’t save you.

Picking up where Resident Evil: Extinction (2007, the third in the film franchise) left off, Resident Evil: Afterlife begins with Alice clones (Milla Jovovich) fighting the evil Umbrella Corporation. After an almighty shoot-out and a fair spill of blood, Alice escapes the underground lair just before it implodes in a moment of unparalleled CGI spectacular. Having snuck onboard with her nemesis – and our suitably arrogant and self-serving “bad guy” for the duration – Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), Alice is stripped of her super strength and regenerative powers for which she appears to be surprisingly grateful in the wake of an apocalypse; “Thank you – for making me human again.” When their plane then crashes the two are somehow separated (explanation unnecessary due to the already entered into suspension of disbelief) and from here on in it’s back to the original premise and a one-woman show: Alice versus Evil.

Searching in desperation for true solace after hearing over an emergency broadcast offering sanctuary – “free from infection” – somewhere called Arcadia, Alice is determined to find her friends and other humans unaffected by the outbreak. Encountering the usual Benetton rainbow of potential survivors, the group includes; a black male (Boris Kodjoe), an Asian male (Norman Yeung), a non-specific Latino or Hispanic male (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) – and female (Kacey Barnfield), a likely but ambiguous Jewish male (Kim Coates), an old and weak miscellaneous white man (Fulvio Cecere) and the stock standard smouldering all-American white military male (Wentworth Miller) and hard-ass sexy, all-American, white woman (Ali Larter) one has, through an economics of predictability, come to expect. In addition to the type of banter and causal narrative anticipated in such an action/thriller/horror/sci-fi there is an amusing byline of sarcastic jokes made at Hollywood’s expense (although ultimately these serve as self-accreditation) and a nod towards an indeed more interesting exploration of an almost Foucauldian nature as the humans lock themselves in a prison to keep the infected, braindead masses out.

Aesthetically and aurally the film is a treat: if you want to see and experience the money you paid for admission, the good news is that with this film, you undoubtedly will. A fantastically relentless soundtrack from tomandandy accompanies excessive bullet-time cinematography and some fairly decent, if at times synthetic looking, 3D. With the addition of a giant “Axeman” who steps in for a showdown with fatal femme duo Alice and Claire (Larter), the film retains the pace, feel and aesthetic of a computer game. Certainly not the end – indeed, just another level – Resident Evil: Afterlife is high-octane of the highest order – and it seems level four has been set to “disavow”.

Resident Evil: Afterlife (3D) is released in Australian cinemas on Thursday October 14th through Sony Pictures Releasing.

Dolphins and Whales 3D

September 14, 2010

Commercial cinema 3D may well be taking the world by storm following the success of James Cameron’s Avatar (2009), the recent spate of Pixar/Dreamworks animations and the occasional horror flick indulging in splatter-D, but before it became standard to have your own set of 3D glasses there was something called the IMAX. It really has to be said that IMAX 3D is still superior to the strange, conversely subtle and gimmicky modes of 3D that contemporary audiences have come to expect. And moreover, it’s worth saying that the immersive qualities of IMAX 3D, as they correlate to the content of their predominantly educational documentary short features, are absolutely preferable to the aforementioned popcorn fodder in every possible way. Melbournians are lucky enough to have the world’s third largest screen at their disposal and with the latest release of Dolphins and Whales 3D there’s really no excuse not to get yourself to Carlton to go see it.

Dolphins and Whales 3D does three things: 1) it educates audiences on a variety of species of the aforementioned dolphins and whales by giving an extreme, close “view” to their lives undersea; 2) it offers experiential cinematic engagement founded upon haptic, immersive theoretical discourse and 3) it reveals its moral project (cautioning against the farming and polluting of sea life) through a thematic thread that is enhanced and reiterated by its technology’s unique ability to inherently reference an historical real.

Ocean life is threatened by the continued human slaughter of dolphins and whales and by human pollution of the earth which in turn severely damages and endangers their habitat and food resources. Told, by Daryl Hannah no less (she of Splash (1984) fame) that many of these remarkable creatures “may soon become a ghostly shadow of the arctic, a mere memory”, the film highlights both the real threat that we pose to their existence whilst indexing their historical and anthropological significance.  Furthermore, the documentary also suggests in its concluding remarks that “we can change our way of life” which resonates so much more as it is being communicated through a pioneering technology that quite literally changes the way in which we see these (often hidden from plain view) mammals.

With the assistance of a heavily emotive score the images figuratively (and sometimes literally) wash over its audience like to a wave of consciousness, imploring those in the auditorium to take an active role in “viewing” so that it develops into “perceiving” and ultimately therefore an experience in educational comprehension. Upon leaving the theatre audiences will find themselves amidst a museum environment which is hardly incidental; the experience as it occurred in the auditorium fully intended to be built upon back in the “real” (temporally at least) world. In just 45 minutes the experience of IMAX 3D could truly alter your perception, a far greater feat than Cameron’s 162 minutes of “blue people” (IMHO!)

Dolphins and Whales 3D is playing now at the Melbourne Museum IMAX 3D theatre in Carlton. Click here to view the trailer.

Written by Tara Judah for Liminal Vision.