ROUNDUP REVIEW: DEEP SEA 3D

(3 stars)

(U.S.; Howard Hall, 2006)

Director Howard Hall ("Into the Deep," "Island of the Sharks") and the underwater IMAX film team do their usual splendid job of making the sea and its often-hungry denizens look beautiful in "Deep Sea 3D." While the film spans the oceans, much of it takes place in near-shore areas such as coral reefs and kelp forests - areas teeming with life from minuscule plankton to a hefty (though still youthful) right whale, not to mention rays, eels, a multitude of crustaceans, anemones, seastars, barracudas, groupers and a variety of fish with a lot of the teeth ... ah yes ... sharks.

The overarching theme is that everything is connected in one big ecosystem (which includes natural predation that may be scary for little tykes, despite the film's G rating). Sharks are not evil; corals are not meaningless rocks; and everything's gotta eat, or not - as we see when a mantis shrimp, which looks like something that might attack the starship Enterprise, fights off an octopus. Expect a lesson about the evils that humanity visits upon the seas - overfishing, pollution and the like - but the lesson is reasonable, not preachy (still, you may want to give up seafood for a bit in a show of solidarity with oceanic Earthlings).

Narration comes from aquatically familiar stars Kate Winslet ("Titanic") and Johnny Depp ("Pirates of the Caribbean"), and music is by Danny Elfman ("Big Fish"), but this is IMAX: It's all about the pictures. Those images create a vision of nature that even a strip miner would want to conserve.

MPAA rating: G. Running time: 0:45. Opens Friday at the Navy Pier IMAX Theatre, 600 E. Grand Ave.; 312-595-5629, www.imax.com/chicago.

- Michael Esposito


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