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Two IMAX Reviews: 'D-Day' and 'Island of Lemurs'

Published on: April 08, 2014

D-Day documentaryEditor's note: A father-daughter team paired up to review two very different IMAX movies playing at Pacific Science Center.

D-Day: Normandy 1944 3D

By John Kubalak

The new 3D IMAX film D-Day: Normandy 1944, playing now at the Pacific Science Center, is a visually compelling summary of what has been called by some the most important single day in history. The film, which is narrated by journalist and author Tom Brokaw, is a blend of different techniques, from live action to archival footage to sand animation, to recreate the events of the days and weeks surrounding the invasion.

The film is recommended for children 12 and older and while there is no blood, death is obviously a deep and ever-present theme. Some of the techniques used in the film are inventive and visually stunning but send a mixed message about the age appropriateness of the material. For example, the documentary is divided into five sections that address different aspects of D-Day. Each is introduced with a beautiful and elaborate CGI pop-up book featuring an important tool used in the invasion, including liberty ships, trucks, cargo planes, bulldozers and jeeps. These sequences are visually rich and informative but feel as if they were intended for a much younger audience. They don't really fit in with the more traditional military history of the rest of the film.

That said, the material is presented in a clear and accessible way and the director, Pascal Vuong, makes excellent use of the different media, such as archival photos that are manipulated to take full advantage of the 3D format, and beautifully rendered maps.

Aside from the pop-up books the most unusual element is probably the sand animation, where images of the battle are created by an animator painting images in sand using a brush, creating a ghostly, ethereal atmosphere - an appropriate way to convey the hard facts of battle to a family audience without any actual violence.

The film is being promoted along with the new Pacific Science Center exhibit Spy: The Secret World of Espionage. I can understand the motive for pairing the movie and the exhibit, but because of the movie's length, it doesn't have the opportunity to explore espionage beyond a brief mention of the inflatable tanks used as a diversionary tactic.

Overall, the film is an informative though somewhat superficial look at an incredibly complex subject. But if you have older kids who enjoy the Spy exhibit or are history buffs, D-Day: Normandy 1944 is an excellent introduction to the general history of this important event.

If you go ...

Where and when:  Pacific Science Center Boeing IMAX theater; check schedule for showtimes. It plays through Sept. 1.

Tickets:  $6-$9, plus fee. Buy online.

Ages: Recommended for ages 12 and over; run time 45 minutes

Island of LemursIsland of Lemurs: Madagascar 3D

By Fiona Kubalak, age 11

In Latin, lemur means "wandering spirit," a term that sums up these adorable wide-eyed creatures. Leaping from tree to tree these fuzzy lovable primates captivate the audience. Island of Lemurs: Madagascar, which opened at the Pacific Science Center on April 4, not only shares awesome facts about lemurs, how their habitats are changing, and what you can do to help them, but also shows stunning views of Madagascar's peaks and forests. Viewers also meet primatologist Dr. Patricia C. Wright, who is working tirelessly to bring back the greater bamboo lemur. The film is narrated by Morgan Freeman.

The movie begins with the history of lemurs, which date from the age of the dinosaurs. It shows how they moved from Africa to the uninhabited island of Madagascar. There are many different types of lemurs, including the mouse, the ring-tail, the dancing sifaka, and the large indri, which has a call that sounds like an opera singer. All of these miraculous creatures come together to form the family of lemurs.

I found the ring-tailed lemurs the most facinating because the females (even the youngest) dominate the males in their society. They are also the best at adapting to the changing environment of Madagascar. They have moved from the forest, which is being burned to clear land for farming and livestock, to the unhabited rocky hills. The mouse lemurs are interesting and cute because they are so fierce but so tiny. The sifakas are fun to watch because of the way they dance when they run and bounce on the ground and leap through the trees.

I would recommed the 3D IMAX film Island of Lemurs: Madagascar to kids 5 years old and up. This creative nature film was produced and directed by the same people who made Born to be Wild 3D.

If you go ...

Where and when: Pacific Science Center Boeing IMAX theater; check schedule for showtimes.

Tickets:  $6-$9, plus fee. Buy online.

Ages: Recommended for ages 5 and up; run time 40 minutes


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