Sharks 3D (2004)


Last summer, while vacationing in the Bahamas, I snorkeled through an exotic underwater community, interacting with various tropical sea creatures face-to-face. Obviously, nothing compares to mingling with manta rays and socializing with sailfish in their own habitat, but Sharks 3D – a new 3D IMAX film – does come close. In fact, it’s cheaper and more informative than snorkeling, offers better views, and doesn’t require travel arrangements. You need only visit your nearest IMAX theater and brace yourself for a truly amazing ride.

Sharks 3D soars above and beyond the typical IMAX movie and allows audiences to explore the immeasurable and astounding ocean through breathtaking 3D technology. It feels as if we are right there in the sea, watching sand tiger sharks glide around, searching for vulnerable prey seemingly inches from our faces, while countless neon jellyfish glide amongst us in hoards, extracting both wonder and claustrophobia from our bewildered senses. Sharks 3D isn’t just a movie, it’s an exhilarating experience.

Although its vastness and unfamiliarity are startling and those sharks, with their pointy noises, menacing eyes, and layers of teeth, are anything but comforting, director/editor Jean-Jacques Mantello portrays the ocean as an arena much like our own soil terrain, no more scary or dangerous. A charming British sea turtle narrates the film, and his suave sense of humor keeps the violent nature of the sea creatures as light as possible. But, as the turtle explains, make no mistake about it, the ocean is a world where almost every creature is potential predator or prey, and species are in as much danger of extinction in the water as they are on the land.

The narrator journeys throughout different areas of the deep blue sea, giving all our favorite underwater characters the spotlight while discussing fascinating tidbits of information about their habits and habitats (though he knows when too shut up and let us enjoy the stunning imagery in peace). Along the way, we meet sawfish and jellyfish, manta rays and sea lions, several different species of shark (including the great white), and even sardines – one of my favorite foods. During our introductions to the fish, a tenacious orchestra blasts music appropriate to the nature of each creature. It’s a nice effect.

Despite the astonishing 3D technology, absorbing underwater details, and impressive soundtrack, the film drags at times. Although it lasts only 45 minutes, it sometimes feels like a big screen (a very big screen) version of The Discovery Channel – a program that, although interesting, can become somewhat tedious after a while. Sharks 3D never becomes dreary or visually stagnant, however; the wonder and amazement of exploring a world otherwise unfamiliar is a one of a kind experience that must be seen to be believed.