August 27, 2009

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Under the Sea 3D (G)
Is life better down where it’s wetter? Come see in Under the Sea 3D, a 3-D IMAX movie.

It’s really hard not to sing that song when coming to this movie — I had maybe gotten it out of my head before the girl at the ticket counter started singing it again.

Musical earworm aside, however, Under the Sea (which is narrated by Jim Carrey) is exactly why you pay the extra price for an IMAX ticket. We get a rainbow-colored peek at the waters of Southern Australia, New Guinea and other places in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Coral reefs, sea dragons, nautilus, sapphire blue damsel fish, sharks, sea lions — you name an exotic underwater creature and it probably puts in a cameo in Under the Sea. Like the very best IMAX 3-D, the images don’t pop out at you, diorama style, but gently curve toward you, swimming right up to you in some cases. (Near the end of the movie, a sea lion swims up to the camera, pushing its puppy face right at us, while the soundtrack inserts a kissing noise. It’s a testament to how awe-inspiring the movie is that this moment of ridiculous cuteness isn’t as off-putting as it sounds.)

Like a ripple of tart syrup running through ice cream, Under the Sea does have a bit of message about how all this beauty is at risk from rising ocean temperatures. But this isn’t some An Inconvenient Truth argument — it’s the soft sell of environmentalism, getting us interested in a Prius and compact fluorescent light bulbs by wowing us with all the ornate and spectacularly colored animals we could save.

But fear not if you like to keep your learning and your entertainment separate, this topic of how you can save the whales is kept to a minimum, with the vast majority of the movie shot to keep you thinking simply “wow, cool.”

Can’t take that Australian scuba-diving trip this year? Under the Sea is a decent $12 alternative. B+

Rated G. Directed by Howard Hall, Under the Sea 3D is 40 minutes long and distributed to IMAX theaters by Warner Bros.