The courage, curiosity and perhaps partial insanity of the explorers -- not to mention the film crew -- are admirable, as their trials and tribulations yield stunning images galore of men, beasts (man, those camels and hippos are some crazy-looking creatures), buildings and landscapes, made all the more glorious by the large-screen format. The film, then, can be forgiven for its (thankfully) few moments of forced whimsy and reenactment, a seeming prerequisite for the family-friendly leanings of IMAX productions. These are indeed small prices to pay for a movie of such stirring beauty and scope. Directed and written by Jordi Llompart. Produced by Jordi Llompart and Greg MacGillivray. A MacGillivray Freeman release. Large-Format/Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 47 min
Mystery of the Nile
Documenting the first full descent of the Nile River through three countries, the latest IMAX film "Mystery of the Nile" does not fail to boggle the mind -- or make one feel like quite the underachiever. The voyage takes 114 days and totals 3,260 miles, starting at the base of the Blue Nile in Ethiopia -- one of the great river's two main tributaries -- and ending in Alexandria, Egypt, at the Mediterranean Sea. Setting out in just two rafts and a kayak, the exploration team, which includes a geophysicist, a hydrologist and an archaeologist, faces numerous dangers, including Class V rapids, crocodiles, windstorms and riverside bandits. They stop at various points along the way, interacting with the native populations and witnessing some of the most profound ancient sites in the world, such as the sunken churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia and the black stone pyramids of Meroe in Sudan. These places are true marvels, and glimpsing them, if only on a screen in a movie theater, helps one more fully appreciate the faculty and -- dare it be said -- even the spirituality of mankind.