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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Imax: Vikings - Journey to the New Worlds
Imax: Vikings - Journey to the New Worlds
Other // Unrated // October 31, 2006 // Region 0
List Price: $14.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jamie S. Rich | posted October 8, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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THE MOVIE:

The IMAX theatres are designed for a massive sensory experience. Giant screens that extend far above viewers' heads, booming sound systems--they are meant to convey the enormity of the film being shown. Most of the theatres are connected to museums and show documentaries with subjects befitting the format, like a look at Mount Everest or journeys into the depths of the earth. Watching them at home, however, removes the scope. Regardless of how big your TV is, it's never going to be the same.

Vikings: Journey to New Worlds is a fitting topic for IMAX. It opens with a shot of one of the enormous Viking ships sailing on the ocean, coming straight at the screen, its hull threatening to crash right through. It's moments like this where you can see what the filmmakers were going for, but it's kind of like watching a 3-D movie in a regular format. You know Eric the Red's sword is pointing at you, but it doesn't actually stab out of the screen.

Once the IMAX element is shoved by the wayside, the appeal of Vikings as a documentary will probably get varied mileage depending on your previous interest in the subject. In its 40 minutes, the film covers a lot of ground, but it never stops feeling like an educational picture, like something you'd watch on a school field trip. The examination of this ancient culture is thorough, but not necessarily inspiring in its content. That leaves it up to the construction of the movie to serve as the main attraction.

The technique of Vikings: Journey to New Worlds is to combine reenactments with natural landscapes, footage of historical artifacts, and digital effects to try to put the audience in the shoes of ancient Norseman. We get raw information about the building of their famous ships and their social structures, including how their stories were passed from person to person and the gods they worshipped. The scholarly narrator sometimes hands the microphone to an actor playing Leif Ericsson to tell stories from the ancient record, the Icelandic Sagas, retelling his father Eric the Red's discovery of Greenland and Leif's eventual discovery of the Americas.

Again, the movie is full of excellent information and many myths about the Vikings are busted, but that doesn't get around the fact that Vikings: Journey to New Worlds was meant to be viewed in a certain way. On your home theatre, it's an interesting curio, but it's kind of like wearing a snorkel and fins to go to the grocery store. No matter how hard you try, you're not going to feel like you're in the water.

THE DVD

Video:
Given its source, the IMAX people don't skimp when it comes to transferring Vikings: Journey to New Worlds to DVD. The high definition picture is anamorphic widescreen, preserving the original 70 mm aspect ration. It is pristine.

Sound:
A Dolby Digital mix that is good and loud.

Extras:
There is a 22-minute documentary on the making of Vikings: Journey to New Worlds that starts with a search for funding and then spans the many location shoots, going from England to Iceland to Greenland to Canada. The feature documents the hunt for authentic reenactors to play the Vikings in the movie, as well as the quest for sets and costumes that convey the best historic accuracy, the challenges of filming in the correct locations, and using the IMAX camera.

There is also a trailer for the main feature and other IMAX films.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Rent It. If you're interested in the history of Vikings, then IMAX's Vikings: Journey to New Worlds is worth a spin. Its short running time means it doesn't wear out its welcome despite its educational tone, but I would hazard to guess that it's not a movie anyone but the most avid of Vikings fanatics will screen more than once.

Jamie S. Rich is a novelist and comic book writer. He is best known for his collaborations with Joelle Jones, including the hardboiled crime comic book You Have Killed Me, the challenging romance 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, and the 2007 prose novel Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?, for which Jones did the cover. All three were published by Oni Press. His most recent projects include the futuristic romance A Boy and a Girl with Natalie Nourigat; Archer Coe and the Thousand Natural Shocks, a loopy crime tale drawn by Dan Christensen; and the horror miniseries Madame Frankenstein, a collaboration with Megan Levens. Follow Rich's blog at Confessions123.com.

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