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Rated NR · 2006
Nature documentaries usually divide organisms into two scientific categories: the cute and the ugly. Smashing the usual IMAX ratio of padding to spectacle, Howard Hall's dazzling deep-sea venture in shrewdly deployed 3-D is a respectful starring vehicle for the ocean floor's character actors -- a troupe that includes such creatures as the wolf eel, a craggy brute that resembles an undersea Lawrence Tierney. "Clearly a face only a mother could love," sniffs narrator Kate Winslet, which typifies the screenplay's level of icthyographic insight. And yet Hall's minutely detailed camerawork grants each ocean dweller its own ornery, inscrutable splendor. Among the highlights are a California mantis shrimp eluding an undulating octopus, spider-legged feather stars scuttling away from a predator like runaway ferns, and the early trompe l'oeil shot of iridescent moon jellyfish slowly filling the theater. Science fiction looks paltry and imagination-starved by comparison.



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