Review: Aliens of the Deep (IMAX)

I'm a fan of IMAX movies, and the geek in me hopes that 3-D tech will continue to improve so that movies can become even more immersive in the future, even if it's restricted to certain genres. This week I trekked out to Lincoln Square in NYC to catch the latest 3-D IMAX pic, James Cameron's Aliens of the Deep.

I haven't seen a 3-D IMAX pic in years. I can't remember what I had to wear at the last one I attended, but for this one I donned massive clown-sized glasses. The 3-D effect is inconsistent. At times, everything was sharp and the picture did seem to jump out at me, as in the case of an elephant reaching out with its trunk. At other times, objects in the foreground were blurry, and the depth imperceptible. The technology needs work.

As for the picture, it's a mixed bag. The movie is only about 45 minutes long, and in that time, less is devoted to fascinating sea creatures than to the young marine biologists and NASA scientists sent down in the submersible vehicles. A few creatures are quite magical, including a gorgeous ring-like jellyfish and a deformed-looking fish with feet. You can't argue with the young marine biologists and geologists (this could be the appealing cast of Real World: 3 Miles Under Deep in the Ocean) who gush over how lucky they are, but then they're seeing the deep sea krill live, while we get the blurry view through a robotic camera. Also, presumably they know the names of these creatures, but for the most part the audience is fed information like Cameron's: "This is off the hook!"

Cameron goes on to theorize that if creatures can survive the ridiculously harsh conditions deep in Earth's oceans (and I was curious how the shrimp and soft-skinned creatures like squid and octopus at these depths survived the lack of light, crushing pressures of the miles of water above them, and the scorching superheated air from within the earth, spewing out of mineral chimneys), why couldn't they survive similar conditions on Europa, one of Jupiter's moons? The movie concludes with a hypothetical meeting with such aliens on Europa, but at that point I was wondering if there was a director's cut with more underwater footage.

And, of course, I was disappointed that no giant squid were spotted. The closest I've come to seeing one alive recently was a New Yorker cartoon captioning contest ("Elusive? He's here every night.").