Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Dolphins (MacGillivray, 2000)

Greg MacGilivray’s Dolphins certainly delivers the goods on its most important mission, namely to take advantage of the IMAX format in order to provide us land lovers with a rare up-close peek at some of the world’s most remarkable creatures. Dolphins, we are told, are second only to humans as far as intelligence is concerned. Their good nature and relative lack of aggression make them nearly impossible to resist. I think it is fair to say that someone who does not take joy in the simple pleasure of observing dolphins likely does not take pleasure in much else in life. In addition to merely providing glimpses of the dolphins in their own element, MacGilivray’s film seeks to make us aware of the danger these creatures face when confronted with mankind’s pollution and other negligence. To be sure this is a worthy sentiment, although I noticed that the IMAX format makes it difficult to convey anything but the broadest of emotional pleas. As viewers, we are simply so deeply immersed visually into the world on the screen that we struggle to process aurally. Even more than usual, our critical defenses are crippled as we gleefully accept the wondrous sights. Dolphins good. Fire bad. Something like that.

While the film scores points for its beautiful underwater photography and having its heart it the right place, it loses them for occasionally falling into lovestruck goofiness, as when one of the scientists looks wistfully out the window, daydreaming about his friend Jojo and the great times they had together playing with the toy fish. In their eagerness to demonstrate that dolphins are capable of feeling emotions, the filmmakers at times create unintentionally funny moments that are reminiscent of the of a cheap romance novel. And do we really need to see the communication of dolphins compared to the hand jives of urban youths followed by the assertion, “Maybe dolphins aren’t so different from us after all.” I’m not sure which species of mammal that insults more. Perhaps both equally. Still, I found the film to be a wholly appropriate and entertaining family film that provided an opportunity for discussion about mankind’s relationship and responsibility to the creatures with which it shares the Earth.



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