This new IMAX 3D movie from Howard Hall, who previously co-wrote and directed “Into the Deep” and “Deep Sea 3D,” eschews any sort of narrative in favor of exquisite photography of various unusual species of fish (along with a few snakes, eels, stingrays and turtles, as well as sea lions and the inevitable sharks and whales) that inhabit the Pacific reefs around Australia and Indonesia. Visually the effect is remarkable, like watching some exotic animals—grumpy-looking frogfish, pulsating jellyfish, color-changing cuttlefish, and many others)—with one’s nose pushed up against the wall of a giant tank. And the exceptionally crisp 3D effects make it look as though some of them are lunging through the glass and headed directly for you.
It must be said, though, that the experience is rather like a walk through a remarkably well-stocked aquarium accompanied by a guide speaking to you with more than a bit of condescension. In this case that would be Jim Carrey, reciting the text in the sort of slightly singsong voice that one might use in talking to a first-grade class. A passage in which he talks about the danger that climate change poses to the underwater citizenry has an obligatory feel to it, too. Then there’s the music score: it’s ordinarily fine, in a fairly obvious way, but when a song about love is suddenly recruited as a counterpoint to a sequence involving the mating dance of a trio of especially odd-looking fish, the effect is jarring.
Still, “Under the Sea 3D” is mostly a fine follow-up to Hall’s previous efforts, the extraordinary images compensating for its lack of structure, less than stellar narration and musical missteps. Families should find it an enjoyable journey that doesn’t require the use of one’s feet—or, in this instance, scuba gear.