A movie review of “Humpback Whales 3D”: Veteran IMAX filmmaker Greg MacGillivray’s latest nature film makes the title characters move like dancers in an undersea musical. Rating: 3.5 stars out of 4.

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Like Greg MacGillivray’s last IMAX 3D film, “Journey to the South Pacific,” the beguiling “Humpback Whales” mines nature for musical inspiration.

The swimming mammals lift off like dancers in an undersea MGM musical that’s all about heft and tease. Never mind that they can’t really fly. It’s enough that they appear to try, breaking the surface again and again. Clever editing and graceful camerawork cover up the rest.

This sort of thing stirred controversy when Disney’s 1950s “True-Life Adventures” played tricks with footage of dancing scorpions, but MacGillivray rarely tries to be cute about it. He celebrates their movements without mocking them.

Movie Review ★★★½  

‘Humpback Whales 3D,’ a documentary directed by Greg MacGillivray, from a screenplay by Stephen Judson. 39 minutes. Not rated; suitable for general audiences. Boeing IMAX Theater at Pacific Science Center.

Also like “Journey,” “Humpback” is a conservationist’s plea. Killing whales has become ingrained in some cultures and families. Norway, Iceland and Japan are cited as the chief offenders, but it’s partly a generation thing. The sins of the fathers (and grandfathers) continue.

Filmed mostly in Alaska, Hawaii and the Tonga islands, the movie — opening Monday, May 4 — is crisply narrated by Ewan McGregor, who makes the most of the message without turning it into a sermon.