Sunday, February 16, 2003

'Reef' stunning, shocking

Documentary reveals destruction of coral reefs

By Margaret A. McGurk
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Coral Reef Adventure contains the most beautiful underwater footage ever to hit the giant screen.

Shot in the South Pacific, it captures the breathtaking color, texture and movement of living coral reefs in stunning detail.

Coral Reef Adventure
(Not rated) Narrated by Liam Neeson. Directed by Greg MacGillivray. 45 minutes. Robert D. Lindner Family Omnimax Theater at the Cincinnati Museum Center.

It also records the shocking sight of dying reefs, grim expanses of broken, gray landscape.

Like rain forests, coral reefs serve critical functions in global ecology, but are threatened by global climate change and human encroachment. The movie touts ways to save the reefs, through fishing restrictions and adding coastal mangroves, for instance.

In trying to appeal to children, Coral Reef Adventure goes seriously overboard at one point by adding silly sound effects to close-up footage of small sea creatures in motion. (Note: A shrimp that digs holes in the ocean floor does not in fact grunt like a man lifting rocks.)

Narrator Liam Neeson delivers the filmmakers' message with clarity; familiar songs from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young lend a spirited tone to the action.

In addition to orchestrating the sensational camera work, director Greg MacGillivray makes smart use of special effects to clarify the vast regions covered by the movie's scientists. They include the husband-and-wife team of Howard and Michele Hall, and Richard Pyle, who discovered a new species of deep-reef-dwelling fish during production of the movie.

Diving scenes neatly balance danger - Michele Hall recounts watching her husband suffer a frightening case of the bends - with fun. Coral Reef Adventure may achieve its goal of winning advocates for the reefs; but it is guaranteed to recruit new students for scuba-diving schools.

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'Reef' stunning, shocking
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