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Indie flicks: IMAX deep-sea documentary comes to MOSI

Under the Sea (G) (40 min.) — Proving that IMAX technology is considered the future of movie exhibition, Warner Bros. again jumps into the deep end of the format with Under the Sea, a documentary narrated by Jim Carrey.

Warner and other studios regularly turn IMAX into a mega-way of viewing blockbusters such as The Dark Knight and Transformers. Under the Sea is the company's second IMAX documentary release, after 2006's Deep Sea. It's a solid addition to the list of oversized museum pieces, eye-catching and not too preachy about the effects of climate change on underwater creatures.

Under the Sea, though, also feels like outtakes from Deep Sea. Both were directed by Howard Hall. His previous movie explored the coasts of Mexico and Hawaii, with similar eco-messages. Changing narrators (from Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet to Carrey) is Under the Sea's only difference to eyes unschooled in oceanography.

Carrey is our understated, off-screen guide to the coastal regions of southern Australia, New Guinea and the Indo-Pacific region, which are inhabited by crustaceans, sharks and fish of rare shapes, sizes and colors. The recurring theme is symbiosis, the mutual dependency necessary for survival. The villain is ocean ossification (the effect of too much carbon dioxide emitted by humans), which stunts growth of coral reefs where these critters live.

We observe such oddities as a leafy sea dragon lazily awaiting dinner to swim close enough, various cuttlefish so ugly they're adorable, sea snakes carrying deadlier venom than king cobras, and, most strikingly, a school of garden eels with tails firmly in sand to resist currents, resembling a planted crop of serpents. Under the Sea is visually impressive and elemental enough to make field trippers happy.

The movie starts Friday exclusively at Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry, 4801 E Fowler Ave., where it will be shown in rotation with other IMAX films. Check mosi.org or call (813) 987-6100 for show times. B+

Steve Persall, Times film critic

Indie flicks: IMAX deep-sea documentary comes to MOSI 02/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 7:23am]

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