Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure (IMAX)
Other // Unrated // December 20, 2001
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted March 16, 2002
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The Movie:

The subject of several books and, apparently, a couple of upcoming major motion pictures, Sir Ernest Shackleton's seemingly nightmarish journey into the Antarctic has been turned, in this case, into a moving and beautifully filmed large-screen portrait of the bravery that Shackleton and crew showed when the situation got progressively worse.

In 1914, Shackleton and 27 other men set out in the Endurance to try and cross Antarctica. The journey started off well, then the first of several crises arose. The ship found itself in the midst of an almost otherworldly landscape of ice blocks, drifting in the ocean and becoming more tightly packed as the ship progressed. While the ship broke through most of the ice, when it was decided that the ship should stop to concerve fuel, the ice froze around the boat, trapping the entire crew in the middle of a very cold nowhere, with no way to contact the outside world.

They decide to wait out the thaw, playing football just off to the side of the ship and surviving on what was on the well-packed ship. This went on for nine straight months, a length of time in one place that would likely drive most people crazy. Spring eventually arrives and what was not a good situation has now surprisingly grown worse. Rather than seeing the ship freed of its icy locks, the newly thawed ice blocks begin to break the ship apart as the men watch in disbelief.

Thus begins a journey that covers over a thousand miles, as Shackleton's leadership keeps the men believing that they will, one day, be saved. I won't ruin anymore for those not familiar, as there's a lot more to the adventure. Director George Butler's film is interesting in that, for all the astounding IMAX photography that was done for this picture, the black and white photography taken by Frank Hurley in 1914 that is shown here is almost equally as thrilling. The film itself is a very nicely balanced mixture of recreated scenes that were done with IMAX cameras, Hurley's photography and maps to keep the audience aware of the geography and how far the journey has gone.

Narration is provided by Kevin Spacey, who does a fine job with somewhat overwritten material. The performers featured in the reinactments are very convincing, as well. As the majority of the reinactments were really filmed in the Antarctic, it probably wasn't too difficult to appear freezing. A group of penguins also make a cameo appearance.

Overall, the question is whether or not "Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure" is worthwhile and I really do think it is. IMAX films, always costly no matter what time of day and often short, can sometimes leave viewers displeased. Personally, I don't think this will be one of them. It's a moving, very inspiring, well-crafted and frequently dramatic large-format picture that's one of the best that I've seen in an IMAX theater in quite a while.

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