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IMAX - China: The Panda Adventure 2001
Description: Experience the globe of the superb and rare Giant Panda as you travel back in time on an exciting expedition through the breathtaking splendor of 1936 China. Inspired by the true-life storyline of widowed Fresh York socialite Ruth Harkness, a fiercely independent girl who dared to take up her late husband's expedition, journeying deep into the forests of China to study the Giant Panda.
Released: 09 Jun 2001 Director: Robert M. Young Writers: Ruth Harkness (book), Paul Andersen (screen story), John Wilcox (screen story), Jeanne Rosenberg (screen story), Paul Andersen (screenplay), John Wilcox (screenplay), Jeanne Rosenberg (screenplay) Actors: Maria Bello, Yu Xia, Xander Berkeley, Bill Hayes Genres: Drama
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IMAX - China: The Panda Adventure Reviews:

There are very several IMAX films that i have not seen--and China:The PandaAdventure (CTPA) is one of the best. i don't think most folks go to IMAXexpecting to see a mainline Hollywood-like production. IMAX films are judged differently, in my opinion. An IMAX film could create the greatest possible test of the large-screen format, and the focus of the presentation could be on the visual. CTPA does this extremely well.It's real that the acting is not outstanding, but i did not go to CTPA to see Robert Redford. i went to see pandas and the stunning scenery of China. i was notdisappointed.The last IMAX presentation i saw was "Amazing Caves," and i was immenselydisappointed. If you had seen the trailer, you had seen everything worthwhile in the movie. And if that English scientist/diver/narrator told one more time howimportant it was to search bacteria so she should "cure fresh diseases," i would have screamed.CTPA is done with a deft touch, with nice narration and dialog and, as i said, stunning cinematography. It's a treat for the entire family. The fact that there's a "story-line" is just icing on the cake.


So I watched an IMAX film. These movies have a surprisingly weak budget. Not only that, but are surprisingly short by movie standards. They should pass for individual one hour tools without a flinch.This one centers on a widow who travels to China to save pandas. She races vs a boy that propagates the error that pandas are dangerous. Seemingly he also has something to do with her husbands untimely death. And, of course, she wins near the end.There are a couple of scenes where it was obviously filmed in front of a green screen. But its IMAX, they can receive away with that. Plus I learned slightly! Yay! Overall, its average. Its terrible acting is overlapped by a short script and descent plot. "C"


I found this movie moving and enjoyable, more than some of the more "documentary" style IMAX films. In the late 80's I saw an OMNIMAX movie in celebration of Singapore's 25th anniversary as a nation. Parts of it were done in a narrative style, with a stage of the Japanese invasion of the island in WW II particularly immediate, perhaps being as realistic and "involving" as any stage I have ever seen in a fight movie. It felt as if the invading troops were all around me, and I should almost feel true danger. I have longed for more movies that had current characters interacting with every another using dialogue ever since, done in the more traditional style instead of a documentary style with only narration."Wings of Courage" impressed me by using true actors, a notable director, and a standard dramatic approach to a storyline with true conflict. I found the same to be real with "China: The Panda Adventure" which has a plucky heroine, Ruth Harkness (Maria Bello, who is especially good) a stalwart and loyal hero, Quentin Young, and a plot and storyline line developed with fabulous vistas of China as a backdrop. The acting was overall quite nice in my opinion. The usual targets of an IMAX movie were met, to move the viewer to territories not often seen, and to do so with the wonderful sharpness the format brings to a giant screen. Heck, the 2-D movies almost look three-dimensional with all the apparent depth this format affords even without 3-D. There is still the tendency to compromise between a large screen movie to present scenic wonders, and a true drama with realistic interplay. The movie does not everytime succeed with the later.One player has made some harsh comments, such as that it has "awkward, wavy camera movements and the blurry, distorted projection", that it made me wonder if we were seeing the same film. I fear that he saw this in a theater that was improperly set up, or with the equipment out of order, for I did not see anything even remotely fitting his description. A key word here probably is "blurry", for a properly projected IMAX movie will never deserve that comment. I also have to wonder if he was stuck in the first row or two, the only case where "distorted" should apply, the back several rows are by far the greatest seats.***** WARNING, POSSIBLE SPOILERS IN THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH ********The same viewer complaining about the technical aspects of the movie was also critical of the scripting of the film. I don't think he was paying enough attention for the heroine is seen transporting only one panda out of China, and we do not see it locked in a "tiny cage", in fact we only see this baby panda in an launch basket or in her own arms. Also, if one is following the plot, this panda was orphaned by the hunter, Dakar Johnston, and in terms of the trouble usually show with this situation, it would have been left to die, whether in its own habitat or not, if not rescued by the heroine, Ruth Harkness. Additionally, the pandas were not considered an endangered species in 1936, the year in which the movie is set. Perhaps this is the main mission of the film, as narration over the end credits explains that by taking the panda to America, these monsters became better known to the whole globe and ultimately protected. It is also explained that even "the terrible hunter", Johnston, learns the error of his methods and stops hunting the pandas as a result. Do you really think The Globe Wildlife Fund would be in favor of a tale showing panda poaching as heroic ? Well, they are a co-producer of the movie and I would guess also had a part in writing.I found the cinematography to be generally gorgeous, with the lighting in the night scenes at the beginning especially interesting. It helped invoke the period in which the movie was set (mid-30's). As usual, the exteriors with rushing river rapids and towering mist-shrouded peaks present the advantages of shooting such scenes in IMAX. Why is it that only in IMAX movies do we now hear dialogue with directionality, instead of the typical stage-center approach used actually in almost all details ? In the 50's and 60's it was standard practice to pan the characters voices to zone them in the proper zone in the scene. This IMAX movie uses this approach, even placing a voice in the right rear surround speakers when the hero is placed there.On the negative side, because this is a short movie the characters do tend to be a bit stereotypical, without finished development. Perhaps Johnston ("the hard-hearted hunter") being the hero in which this aspect is most noticeable.



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