Reviews

Under the Sea 3D

Renee Scolaro Mora

Under the Sea 3D offers a rare and gorgeous look at marine life from the heart of the Coral Triangle.


Under the Sea 3D

Director: Howard Hall
Cast: Jim Carrey
MPAA rating: G
Studio: Sony Pictures
First date: 2009
UK Release Date: 2009-02-13 (Limited release)
US Release Date: 2009-02-13 (Limited release)
Website
Trailer

Under the Sea 3D offers a rare and gorgeous look at marine life from the heart of the Coral Triangle, home to more marine species than any other place on earth. It’s more than a “look” of course. The IMAX 3D “experience” of larger than life images swirling before you or lunging at you is both thrilling and educational, tackling global climate change, species decline, and pollution in a matter-of-fact manner, maintaining a tone that is, if not light, at least gentle.

Filmed in the waters from Papua, New Guinea and Indonesia to South Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Under the Sea 3D introduces us to an array of unusual and beautiful marine life. Interspersed with images of Green Sea Turtles, Australian Sea Lions, and the Great White Shark are those less familiar: a field of synchronously waving Garden Eels; the Leafy Sea Dragon camouflaging itself perfectly in the underwater vegetation; a tentative mating dance between a female Giant Cuttlefish and her two small, timid male suitors; and the Chambered Nautilus bouncing gracefully along the ocean bottom, its shell making soft clicking sounds as it bumps and ricochets against other shells, coral, and rock.

Narrator Jim Carrey explains the symbiotic relationships among the different species and the delicate balance that holds the system in place. Running just 40 minutes, the film focuses on three species in particular, the Giant Cuttlefish, the Chambered Nautilus and the Leafy Sea Dragon. Aided by Carrey's cute one-liners and some cuter soundtrack choices (“Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” during that Cuttlefish mating dance), the movie is certainly appealing. When Carrey informs us there are only six species of nautiloids left, where there used to be upwards of 2,000, or that the underwater gardens of South Australia are beginning to die out and with them, we're feeling invested.

Under the Sea 3D asserts that global warming causes ocean acidification, as too much carbon dioxide in the sea water changes its chemical balance, inhibiting the production of calcium carbonate, the foundation of the coral reefs, cuttlebones, and nautilus shells, as well as the shells and skeletons of thousands of other species. Because we see the effects on our new friends, the lesson becomes a little more personal, a little less abstract and catch-phrase-y.

Such explanatory narration, earnest and careful, is also decidedly apolitical. Focused on the marine life affected by climate change, Under the Sea 3D does not lecture on the causes or sources of the carbon dioxide that causes global warming. (In fact, the term “global warming” is used only once.) The movie also omits references to evolution. When describing the slow movement of the Leafy Sea Dragon, for example, Carrey explains that “sea dragons are not designed to swim fast or far.” (This gesture towards Intelligent Design is especially striking during this year, the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth).

Such language suggests a deliberate effort by the filmmakers to keep audiences from getting caught on an ideological or political sticking point and thereby missing theirs. Then again, the film claims in closing that, “We finally seem ready to accept responsibility” and respond accordingly -- assuming that "we" all agree on this point. Indeed, there can be no arguing that the loss of such a brilliant and diverse display of marine life would be needlessly tragic.

8

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image