Title: Wild Africa
Release Date: 2015
Directors: Mike Slee, Neil Nightengale, and Patrick Morris
Saw this at the Mugar Omni Theater at the Museum of Science, Boston in IMAX format. It’s beautifully filmed with overhead shots reducing the flora and fauna of Africa to abstract art, then zooming in to immerse the viewer in waterfalls, gushes of lava, and a variety of animal one-on-ones. The volcanic eruptions and crocodiles attacking wildebeest are particularly scary for a four-year-old. Time lapse and slo-mo are also used to good effect.
There’s a downside, particularly in the cliches Helena Bonham Carter is forced to narrate. The silly sound effects and music choices are also questionable (Coldplay, ugh?!?). Most IMAX nature films have a message about environmental stewardship – albeit heavy handed – but this film chose to ignore human influence on nature entirely, which is mind-boggling. I’ve been watching nature documentaries for close to 40 years and it’s disappointing that the narrative framing can’t keep up with the dramatic leaps forward in visual spectacle.