S.O.S. Planet (IMAX)
Other // Unrated // February 7, 2003
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted February 20, 2003
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Something became terribly apparent in the final stretch of "S.O.S. Planet": this is the worst IMAX film I've ever seen - and not just by a "photo finish" with "T-Rex", either. An embarassment of stories-tall proportions, "S.O.S." is nothing more than a badly-edited informerical, with a few flashy 3-D effects here and there to try and make the audience forget they've just spent nine dollars, mostly to be advertised to, in this case.

Apparently (the film tries to explain its way around this and does so poorly), this picture was financed eco-friendly Efteling theme park in the Netherlands. As a result, we hear about the theme park again and again. This certainly wouldn't be a problem in theory: we'd get to see the animals of this giant park from across the world and maybe even learn how the park functions on a day-to-day basis. Unfortunately, the film doesn't do anything of the sort.

The film attempts to focus on three problems that face our world: global warming, destruction of the rain forest and depletion of oceanic marine life. In another IMAX film, we would be taken to certain areas around the world and see, first-hand, the kind of destruction and concerns that we should ponder if we want our world to be a better place. Unfortunately, the film doesn't do anything of the sort.

Instead, we get three cutesy, animated segments that show smiling, happy animals before and after their habitants have been ruined. This clearly provides the audience no information to go away with and frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if, by one of the last scenes in the film, the audience isn't rooting for those CGI monkeys throwing things at each other (and I really don't want to know what they were throwing) to fall out of that tree. When the film isn't attempting to show us environmental issues in the simplest possible manner, it's attacking the media for focusing on oil spills and not more subtle threats to our environment.

Given the kind of cutesy feel of it (we even get an animated panda running some sort of underground lair looking at eco-threats around the world - yes, this is a trippy film), it's surprising that there are some 3-D pictures that may be scary for kids - like a giant octopus, and a stories-tall image of narrator Walter Cronkite.

The 3-D effect is clearly well-done here and technical credits are really the only aspect that I appreciated. The computer sequences, while edited together seemingly at random and often serving little purpose, clearly were well-rendered and looked good in 3-D. IMAX filmmakers have been successfully merging education and entertainment for years, providing looks at places we've never been and seeing creatures we may never view up-close. This film chooses to take us nowhere, simply showing us a lot of computer animation that, while technically nice, is in no way memorable, nor does it really serve to make any of the points that the film is attempting to make. Simply, this is a very weak IMAX film that, for 50 minutes, never becomes involving.



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