Movie review of “National Parks Adventure”: The best thing about this IMAX documentary is the eye-boggling images of awe-inspiring scenery. Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.
“National Parks Adventure” does very well the thing that top-of-the-line IMAX documentaries do best, which is blow you away with eye-boggling images of scenery.
In this particular case, let’s call it: SCENERY! In 3D. Projected on the ginormous screen at the Boeing IMAX Theater at the Pacific Science Center.
We’re talking SCENERY, like erupting Old Faithful at Yellowstone. And the spookily magnificent Devil’s Tower in Wyoming (in your mind’s ear, you can hear the theme of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”). Also, soaring reddish sandstone spires in Arches National Park, vertiginously viewed from the perspective of a hovering helicopter. Not to mention the Grand Canyon, yawning immensely wide. And Monument Valley. And a California redwood grove.
Movie Review ★★½
‘National Parks Adventure,’ a documentary narrated by Robert Redford. Directed by Greg MacGillivray, from a screenplay by Stephen Judson and Tim Cahill. 43 minutes. Rated G. IMAX at the Pacific Science Center.
The 3D heightens the Wow Factor immeasurably. Or, in the case of a sequence shot among frozen waterfalls in Upper Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, make that the Yikes Factor, which kicks in when a falling shard of ice hits the camera lens and you involuntarily raise your hand to wipe the splatter from your face.
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The picture is pure travelogue, put together by filmmaker Greg MacGillivray to mark the 100th anniversary of the creation of the National Park Service in 1916. It’s a road-trip movie that follows a trio of outdoors enthusiasts — mountaineer Conrad Anker, his stepson photographer Max Lowe and Lowe’s artist friend Rachel Pohl — as they drive from park to park to play among the magnificence. In the scenes featuring them, “National Parks Adventure” devolves into a kind of glorified home movie. What we did on our summer vacation is the tone.
The scripted narration by Robert Redford does tend toward the florid. Among the geysers of Yellowstone, he intones, one can “feel the beating heart of the planet.” Also, the crediting of corporate underwriters at the end seems jarringly intrusive.
Still, the movie’s magnificent images make all of that pale into insignificance. “National Parks Adventure” is truly a sight to see.