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Review: Under the Sea 3D

This nature documentary from 2009 is bound to impress. As the name suggests, Under the Sea 3D takes viewers on an adventure under the sea, highlighting the interesting and diverse life beneath the ocean. At the time of release, this movie was screened in IMAX 3D, which provided viewers with an incredible experience. This combination of IMAX and 3D gave the audience the feeling that they were floating around, under the surface among the sea life. This eye-opening and educational film was well received by critics.

While you are too late to catch Under the Sea 3D in the cinema, you can get hold of it on DVD and have a 3D experience in the comfort of your own home. This eye-opening documentary about the world beneath the surface of the sea really has something for everyone. Brought to you by a director with a wide collection of marine documentaries to their name, you know you are in safe hands with this film. Let’s take a closer look at the movie, its creators, how it was filmed and what we thought about this underwater adventure.

What is Under the Sea 3D?

Under the Sea 3D is a nature documentary with a running time of forty minutes. The documentary is aimed at children of elementary age, in order to target the widest possible audience. This informative and educational short film also has a deep-rooted message about climate change and protecting the ocean.

Filmed in the Southern hemisphere, Under the Sea 3D brings viewers face to face with a wide variety of incredible and mysterious sea creatures. The experience is enhanced by the film being released in theatres in IMAX 3D.

Under the Sea 3D was released on February 13th 2009 and grossed $45,939,06 domestically and $19,317,863 internationally. Not a bad earning, considering the movie’s short run time of only 40 minutes.

About the Movie

Imax under the sea 3D

Image Source: Video screen capture, Yo P, via Youtube.

Released in 2009, Under the Sea 3D provides up-close encounters with some remarkable sea life. This film also aims to educate viewers about the direct impact global warming and climate change is having on the ocean and the life it supports. While this film’s original target audience was elementary-age children, it has captivated viewers of all ages.

The majority of Under the Sea 3D was filmed in the Southern hemisphere. Under the Sea 3D features footage shot in a variety of different locations including Indonesia, Hawaii, The Gulf of Mexico, New Guinea, and Australia as well as other Indo-Pacific regions. However, with so much footage taken, the 40-minute run time seems to be surprisingly short.

Under the Sea 3D was directed by Howard Hall who has two other major ocean documentaries under his belt: Deep Sea 3D which was released in 2006, and Into the Deep which was released in 1994. Howard Hall really was the driving force behind this production and had a great deal of involvement in every stage of the film.

Hall personally filmed over 350 hours of footage in 110 days at sea. Gathering all of the footage required specialized dive teams who took to the water around 1668 times. The dive teams involved in filming also had to use specialist dive equipment to extend the length of their dives. This was to ensure they captured all of the footage needed to provide such a vibrant and interesting final product.

Howard Hall Productions

Howard Hall has a history and passion for making marine documentaries. His own production company, which he founded with his wife, boasts a number of spectacular productions, as well as close work with the National Geographic Channel. They are best known for producing their IMAX films, including Under the Sea 3D. However, their highest grossing IMAX productions are: Into the Deep, which grossed over $70 million at the box office, and Deep Sea 3D, which earned over $96 million.

With seven Emmy awards between them, they are considered to be a power couple of marine documentaries. Take a closer look at their collection of work on the Howard Hall Productions website if you are interested in finding out more about the director and visionary behind Under the Sea 3D. Their website provides access to stock footage and photos they have captured, as well as information about future expeditions in the pipeline.

The website also gives you the chance to see how some of their footage was captured, which is highly informative if you have an interest in underwater photography. Even if you’re just interested in how films like Under the Sea 3D are made, you will find plenty of details. Looking through the list of films and documentaries they have under their belt, you may also find another film or two that you will be interested in watching.

Critical Reception

Under the Sea 3D was received well by critics, with the Wall Street Journal stating the documentary is “one of the best of the genre” and “offers marvels in abundance”. It holds a comfortable 7.6 rating on IMDb, and an incredible 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, two of the most popular movie rating websites.

While Under the Sea 3D was well-received for the most part, there have been some critical opinions of the film. The short run time and the over-zealous warnings about the damage to the oceans have been among the most common critiques. However, it would be impossible to please everyone.

The film aims to deliver a clear warning message about global warming and the effects of climate change on the planet's oceans. While this message is clearly delivered, it could be argued that it is delivered rather harshly, and without any hope or suggested solutions. That said, those watching the film and those with an interest in sea life will most likely already be aware of the negative impacts of climate change on the oceans.

While the film does hammer home a strong message about the critical state of the coral reefs around the world and the direct impact that has on our sea life, it could be argued that it is necessary. The oceans are in a serious condition in some areas and a wake-up call is needed. What better way to send a message than through a documentary about the sea? Viewers can hardly be surprised or upset that Hall decided to highlight a few harsh truths.

Another criticism that could be highlighted about Under the Sea 3D is the surprisingly short run time. With such an abundance of sea life to show and so many hours of footage captured, it is surprising that the final cut lasts only forty minutes. That said though, with the movie’s target audience being young children, forty minutes is the perfect amount of time to keep that particular audience captivated.

What We Think of Under the Sea 3D

Under the Sea 3D is a visual delight for the eyes. This eye-opening documentary highlights, with great execution, the wonderful and diverse sea life below the surface. Filmed in a variety of different locations, the audience is exposed to a wonderful array of amazing sea creatures.

We think it's great that the director wanted to have the target audience as younger children, for a number of reasons. Firstly, a junior target audience opens up accessibility to a wider overall audience base. Examples could include: children of all ages, second language English speakers, or adults who may not have much knowledge of life under the sea. Such a target audience definitely guarantees an approachable and friendly delivery.

Another reason why we think it's great that this film is targeted at the younger generation also goes hand in hand with the film’s underlying message. Under the Sea 3D aims to draw attention to the harsh reality of global warming and climate change. The younger generation needs to be educated about this. It is, after all, the world they are inheriting.

Making younger generations aware of the damage that has been, and is still being, done to the planet and the oceans is vital to help make a difference. The next generation are the ones at the most risk of inheriting a damaged and unfixable planet. The harsh truth sent out by this film may also give wake up calls to the parents who have taken their children to watch the film.

While this age group may be too young to fully understand the meaning of the effects global warming is having on the planet, the teachers, parents or guardians who have taken their children to see the film are not. The message will be reaching all generations and for good reason. It’s the older generation that needs to begin to make changes in order to secure the younger generation’s future.

On the note of the target audience being young, we also want to highlight another great thing about Under the Sea 3D. While many nature documentaries tend to feature a great deal of the gore, hunting and killing that goes on in the animal world, Under the Sea 3D does not. The audience is spared from many, if any, killing sprees. While they are a part of nature, they are not always easy to watch and can be very upsetting for young children.

The quality of the footage is outstanding and, when viewed in 3D at an IMAX cinema, provides an incredibly immersive experience. The audience really feels like they are under the sea with the camera crew. This is also highly effective at building more of a connection between the audience and the sea life, helping to drive home the underlying warning messages.

While a cinema experience in IMAX 3D is the ultimate way to watch this film, it has been released on DVD in IMAX 3D as well. This allows the viewer the chance to have the same experience in the comfort of their own home. Of course, it will most likely not be as impressive as the cinema. If you do not have a blu-ray DVD player that supports 3D movies, the film is also available on DVD in 2D.

While watching it in 2D may not be as sensational, the imagery is still outstanding. Under the Sea 3D really captivates the viewers and draws them into a world of sea life that most of us will rarely, if ever, be exposed to in real life. If you are interested in nature or sea life, it is definitely worth a watch.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Under the Sea 3D is a must-see film. With such a young target audience it is suitable for a the whole family and provides entertainment from start to finish. Exposing the viewers to the weird and wonderful sea creatures that live in our ocean, Under the Sea 3D will leave you wanting more.

The short view time can be seen as a blessing and a curse. While it may be the perfect run time for a younger audience to maintain focus, the high quality footage and editing of Under the Sea 3D leaves you with the feeling that something is missing. Perhaps an extra 15 minutes would have made all the difference.

While this film is no longer showing in theatres, it is available to buy on DVD, in both 2D and IMAX 3D. If you have not seen this documentary yet, it is definitely worth watching, especially if you have a family with young children. The educational message and underlying warnings about global warming are stark and honest. But they are necessary, we think, to highlight the reality of the damage that is happening and has already happened to our sea life.

What are you waiting for? Get your scuba gear on and take the plunge. Under the Sea 3D won't disappoint; we challenge you to make it through this short film without being amazed by the myriad of sea life featured.

Featured image: Video screen capture, Warner Bros., via YouTube.

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