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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


If youíve ever wanted to go scuba diving but have never had the chance, hereís the movie for you. IMAX Deep Sea, now on DVD from Warner Home Video, is like putting on a scuba mask and jumping into the ocean. I saw the movie during its original IMAX 3-D run last year, and it was one of the most spectacular movie-going experiences Iíve ever had. Happily, nothing is really lost in the transition to 2-D home viewing; the film is so solid in execution and spectacle that it can be enjoyed fully from the comfort of your living room.

As narrated by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, the film shows us a wide variety of undersea creatures, from whales and sharks to scallops and crabs. The cameras get up really close, allowing us not just to see these amazing undersea dwellers, but to study them in detail. Iíve seen other documentaries of this type, but never one that made me feel so up close to things.

What really elevates IMAX Deep Sea above and beyond the norm is that the camera captures species that I had never seen before (and which you probably havenít either). In the film, you will witness such amazing sights as the nearly-blind Triton Trumpet Snail hunting a sea star by smelling its trail. Later, we get a rare look at the California Mantis Shrimp, whose claws are as fast as a .22 caliber bullet. All of this is set to a superb musical score by the great Danny Elfman.

Iíve always been intensely fascinated with sea creatures. Having logged a decent amount of time in Baltimoreís National Aquarium (among others), I felt fairly knowledgeable about the types of beings that live beneath the deepest waters of our universe. IMAX Deep Sea is something of a revelation, then, because it allows you to see these creatures without a wall of glass between you and them. It also gives you an intimate look at things youíd be hard-pressed to see at an aquarium. If you and your family have any interest whatsoever in undersea life, then IMAX Deep Sea will enthrall you, as it did me.

The film is presented in your choice of the original full-frame aspect ratio of the original IMAX exhibition, or a widescreen version tailored for home entertainment playback. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is stunning, giving the underwater footage an added dimension. The theatrical trailer is also included on the DVD.

( 1/2 out of four)

IMAX Deep Sea is rated G. The running time is 45 minutes.

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