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BMZ Review: Deep Sea (3D/2D)
By Ann Coates


A Crown of Thorns seastar creeps across coral in the Bahamas. Photo copyright© Howard Hall Productions. Photo: Howard Hall.

Deep Sea 3D
Written by: Ann Coates
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: March 3, 2006


Category: Reviews

With the sheer multiplicity of sea life, it's no wonder many a film has come to the Giant Screen about the underwater world. The latest offering is Deep Sea 3D, a beautifully photographed film from director and cinematographer Howard Hall (Coral Reef Adventure, Into the Deep) and veteran Producer Toni Meyers (IMAX Corporation). The film focuses mainly on the diversity of undersea life while placing the audience, quite dramatically, in the midst of it all.

Clocking over 1,800 hours underwater to film Deep Sea, the film crew had a great variety of sea creatures to choose from. Through their labors, we get to see a handful of some of the most intriguing, from the familiar to the alien, and from the graceful to the lumbering. The film opens by surrounding the audience among tiny transparent moon jellyfish in a calm but delightful reverie. We move on to a vibrant coral reef animated with fish, squid, eels and everything in between. Here, the tone is set for what will be the rest of the film -- a simple witness to the daily dramas of underwater life.

We encounter the coral reef's cleaning stations, where predator and prey make a precarious truce. While smaller fish agree to clean (and therefore feed on) parasites off predators like the barracuda, the predators agree not to eat the smaller fish. The film utilizes a variety of locations, nine in total, from the cold waters of British Columbia to Northern California's warm coast. We come to find that, although fish are the most popular inhabitants of the ocean, the sea truly teems with alien life -- like the rainbow nudibranch, a colorful sea slug that feeds on tube anemone, or the beautiful giant manta ray, a huge yet elegant swimmer.

With the ever-improving technology of 3D, the film captures the feeling that one is not just viewing this cast of sea life, but rather is a participant -- moving with these underwater creatures. The encircling feeling of the film is particularly dramatic -- most sea animals are framed extremely close and at the center of the screen. Thanks to the implementation of the macro lens, these extreme close-ups give full detail to each creature's intricacies. But when peeking beyond the center object, the film exposes the vast expanse of sea that these animals inhabit. Deep Sea perhaps puts the audience closer to underwater life than its ever been in a Large Format film (or any film, for that matter), while still revealing the breadth of the ocean beyond.

The film's educational value is delivered through the co-narration of Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, as they offer insight into the behavior and anatomy of each animal featured. A signature score by Danny Elfman (Batman, Men in Black, Spider-Man, Desperate Housewives) rounds out the film. An important conservation message ends Deep Sea, calling awareness to this wondrous but delicate environment. A beauty of a film, the incredible diversity of undersea life could have easily led Deep Sea beyond the standard IMAX 40-minute mark without losing any of its magic.

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