Review: IMAX Deep Sea 3D

Review: IMAX Deep Sea 3D

Yesterday, I attended a preview screening of Howard Hall’s Deep Sea 3D in London, along with some of the biggest names in British underwater photography. The turn out reflects the very high esteem in which HH is held over here.

I am no film reviewer, and I’m much more used to reviewing camera kit, but since I have been lucky enough to see this fantastic film I thought I’d share my views.

Deep Sea 3D is a 40 minute total immersion into the underwater world. With charismatic stars including Green Turtles, Giant Pacific Octopus, Mola mola, Mantas, sharks and even a Bowhead Whale, the film is first class family entertainment. A favourite sequence is on cleaning stations, culminating with a classic sequence at Turtle Spa. The narration, provided by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet is engaging and informative, and continues the family theme with the two of them bantering like brother and sister.

The film is full of classic HH trademarks, such as perfectly observed and edited behavioural sequences and beautiful underwater seascapes that look unbelievably real in 3D (you really have to see them for yourself). Fans of HH’s work will no doubt recognise many of the locations. It is a sensible approach as it is the technology that really shows these scenes in a completely new way.

Hall also shows excellent sensitivity to his IMAX medium. The shooting style for a 20mx26m IMAX screen is clearly different to shooting for TV. At this scale you have the space to allow the events to unfold on the screen. As an underwater photographer it makes you want to grab your camera and swim off into the scene and get snapping. The filmmakers’ skill is most apparent in their ability to transform invertebrates into movie stars! 

Perhaps my favourite aspect was the way the director handled the environmental message of the film. Many films are either too heavy handed and turn off the audience, or ignore the serious threats facing the ocean. Deep Sea 3D presents it message pitch perfect. The film first allows you to get to know the creatures, to become captivated by their quirks and to realise how interdependent their lives are, before mentioning the devastating impact of over-fishing towards the end of the film.

This is obviously a film that all underwater photographers must see, and more importantly they should take the whole family. There can’t be a better way to get to know the ocean without getting wet.

Deep Sea 3D opens at IMAX cinemas in the USA, Canada and the UK from the 3rd March.