Movie Review - Alaska (Omnimax)
'Alaska' an Omnimax natural
Journey through grand wilderness is exhilarating, gorgeous

The Cincinnati Enquirer

The super-sized Imax format is never more inviting than when the subject is the natural world, as in Ring of Fire, the stunning film about active volcanos.

Alaska: Spirit of the Wild, the newest feature to hit the domed screen at the Museum Center's Robert D. Lindner Omnimax Theater, sustains that tradition with an exhilarating journey through the grandest wilderness in the Union.

Alaska: Spirit of the Wild

(Unrated; contains some scenes of wildlife violence)
Narrated by Charlton Heston. Directed by George Casey.
Directed by Rusty Cundieff.
38 minutes.


What: Alaska: Spirit of the Wild.

When: Opens Saturday and continues daily through Nov. 14. Show runs on the hour Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Monday-Friday 1-3 p.m. Also, Tuesday-Thursday, 7-8 p.m. and Friday, 7-9 p.m.

Where: Robert D. Lindner Family Omnimax Theater, Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Ave., West End.

Tickets: $6.50, $5.50 for seniors, $4.50 for children 3-12. Discounts available for museum members and groups of 15 or more.

Advance tickets: From Ticketmaster, 562-4949, or the Museum Box Office.

Information: 287-7091.

Narrated by Charlton Heston, the film opens with a signature aerial shot taken from a plane flying over snow-capped mountains and pristine valleys. Shots like that are red meat for thrill seekers who go to the big screen for roller-coaster sensation.

But Alaska offers even more to nature-show addicts, with extensive footage of wild animals -- bears, moose, eagles, wolves, salmon and sea lions, among others -- in their native environments and on their natural behavior.

That includes hunting. The squeamish may be inclined to shut their eyes when brown bears feast on freshly caught salmon or when wolves battle over a fresh kill. Sturdier viewers will be fascinated by the detail visible in those shots, particularly when a bear neatly peels the skin from a salmon before eating it.

The film follows the cycle of seasons, from frozen winter through spring, summer and fall and winter again, conveying a graceful sense of time and natural rhythm.

The film packs an unusual amount of information into 38 minutes, touching on geology, biology and anthropology. The imagery encompasses an impressive variety of scale. One stupendous sequence shows gargantuan slabs of blue ice sloughing off the end of a glacier. At the other extreme are close-ups of salmon eggs nestled into a riverbed.

Computer illustrations provide a clear image of how glaciers accounted for the Ice Age land bridge between Asia and Alaska. The film uses actors to show ancient nomads following herds of game across that bridge.

It also states that all Native Americans, north and south, descended from those hunters -- ignoring archaeological evidence of pre-Ice Age settlement in the Americas.

It's typical of Imax films to skirt scientific complexities; given their short form, they could hardly do justice to knotty questions. But be aware that the information delivered in those authoritative tones is for the most part simplified to relatively elementary terms.

It may not matter. Gorgeous pictures, not scientific rigor, are what keep the crowds coming back to the big, big screen. And pictures of any size don't get much more gorgeous than Alaska.

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