The Last Reef 3d: Cities Beneath The Sea Reviews

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August 3, 2012
Saw this at the IMAX theater at the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. The 3-D effects are simply amazing. The children in the audience were trying to touch the images popping off the screen. The story line is interesting and relevant. A short documentary that leaves you wanting to see more of the brightly colored world of coral reefs and spurring you into action to do something to help save these diminishing habitats.
½ May 3, 2013
"The Last Reef: Cities beneath the Sea 3D" is a 3D IMAX documentary of coral reefs around the world and their importance to their ocean ecosystems. It sets the audience into a visual3D journey of the various types of reefs and how animals congregate in mutual benefit. The film often uses parallelism by comparing how coral reefs work to our human cities work. Despite surprisingly being an animal, coral provides shelter to a great variety of ocean animals such as fish, sea slugs, and crustaceans. These groups of coral can be compared to groups of city buildings which provide shelter for many humans. Like the human citizens working different jobs within the city, ocean animals each play a role in their coral reef ecosystems. Even the smallest sea animals make up the base of the food web that affects all the animals including the larger predators.
A good portion of the footage takes place at the massive reefs sheltering the rocky islands of Palau, which are near the Philippines. Other sites shown include Jellyfish Lake, the mangroves of Bimini, and Cancun, Mexico where multiple underwater statues provide shelter for the local ocean life. With taking over three years to capture all the footage, the people who worked on this documentary clearly put a lot of effort into the cinematography. Most the shots are very visually engaging, showing viewers how beautiful coral reefs and the ocean life that inhabit them can be. This proves to be successful in allowing the viewer to appreciate the coral reefs, and therefore are more likely to show concern for their preservation.
The main conflict that the film focuses on is the current threat of rising acidity levels in Oceans as a result of the increasing amount of CO2 dissolving into the ocean with the rise of Global Warming. This can be easily traced to global human activity, such as industry and our agricultural machinery. This proves to have disastrous effects on the coral reefs, as coral reefs continue to crumble, and take a long time to reconstruct themselves. Sadly enough, scientists from the film estimate that the Caribbean has already lost around 90% of its coral reefs, and the same can happen to other reefs around the world as well. They also predict if we don't start giving enough concern and effort to lower the CO2 emissions, then the coral reefs may someday wipe out completely. Thus the domino effect would occur, affecting other ocean habitats across the world.
While this environmental message is effective at getting the viewer aware of this increasing threat against coral reefs, it ultimately fails at giving much of one of the most important components of a documentary like this one should; details on the solutions. This ends up making the story far more uneven than it should've been. Sure they make sure to tell us to be concerned with the coral reef problem and we humans need to solve this issue, but they never give many details on how we as individuals can make a difference. They never bring up how we can use more sustainable practices, like using alternative forms of energy or reducing our ecological footprint. By telling the viewer HOW we can solve this issue, they can therefore have a better chance at doing so. However, they do mention which environmental programs are trying solve the issue such as the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation program. This way, viewers can know which programs will be the most effective and thus which to support. Overall, while the film gets uneven about the solutions to the problem, it still does a good job at telling the problem and capturing both the natural beauty and the importance of the Earth's coral reefs.
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