Sunday, October 19, 2008

SM Mall of Asia IMAX Theatre Presents Sea Monsters

Before finally ending our series of posts on the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, we shall digress to a 3D movie that recently caught our fancy.
In “Sea Monsters – A Prehistoric Adventure”, a group of paleontologists unearth a set of fossils in the deserts of Kansas. These turned out to be enormous creatures dating back 82 million years! What makes this discovery interesting is the realization that these creatures were ferocious aquatic animal - prehistoric, gigantic and unique in physical features. These infos have bolstered the fact that the arid lands of Kansas were once submerged underwater prior to the shifting land masses, volcanic eruptions and geographical evolution. And these discoveries reveal several compelling stories of creatures that used to inhabit a vast area of the earth submerged underwater. These were creatures that dominated the earth way before the eon of Adam!
Compared to the other 3D Feature (Marc Fafard’s Dinosaurs – Giants of Patagonia) that premiered at the IMAX a few months ago, this cinematic experience comes up with a more cohesive narrative, as it follows the story of a mother “dolly” and her 2 fledglings – a male and a female dolichorhynchops (DOLI-KORIN-CHOPS), starting from their inception as “eggs” up to their growth and migration – and ultimate comeuppance.
This journey conveniently takes us from one continent to another – alternately jumping through time – in present day Kansas, Central Texas, South Australia, the Negev Desert of Israel and Belgium, where other fossils of these dolichorhynchops have been found. To spruce up an already compelling story, other prehistoric ocean creatures are introduced into this journey – “monsters” that interacted with our protagonists – the “dollies”. This includes the giraffe-necked Styxosaurus and 20-foot “bulldog” fish Xiphactinus to the T-Rex of the ocean — the 40-foot super-predator Tylosaurus, flightless gigantic birds, 30-foot squids with rudimentary paddle-like proboscis longer than their entire body, turtle-like creatures with a square carapace (instead of the usual dome-spaced shells we know today), plant-like ancestors of what we now call starfish, and so.
It is hard to find fault in a feature that weaves a storyline with paleontologic documentation and visual wizardry. However, overlystretched sidebars on the other “monsters” tend to clutter a thinly veiled plot that veers away from its focus. But narrative focus takes the backsit when every 10 minutes or so, another fierce-looking creature is introduced to us. The film is nevertheless visually stunning. In fact, as director Sean MacLeod Phillips weaves his historical findings with the present, we were made aware of our sense of existence. There have been powerful creatures that existed millions of years before us, and if we are oblivious to the history of their extinction, it won’t be an impossibility that one day, in another 82 million years more, another group of creatures far removed from humans will have dug fossils of the homo sapiens variety - “charming” as the “dollies”, but as foolhardy, thoughtless and careless as the humans that "once" ruled the earth.

Tylosaurus – prehistoric ocean’s T-Rex - seizes its prey out of water.

Styxosaurus was an elasmosaur, a long-necked variety of the marine reptiles called plesiosaurs. These sea monsters grew upwards of 40 feet (12 meters) long. About half that length was neck, a feature that allowed Styxosaurus to sneak up on schools of fish as it slowly cruised the shallow waters of the Late Cretaceous seas.

Here are some production notes:
The film, narrated by Tony Award-winning actor Liev Schreiber and with an original score by longtime musical collaborators Richard Evans, David Rhodes and Peter Gabriel, takes audiences on a remarkable journey into the relatively unexplored world of the “other dinosaurs,” those reptiles that lived beneath the water. Funded in part through a grant from the National Science Foundation, the film delivers to the giant screen the fascinating science behind what we know, and a vision of history’s grandest ocean creatures.
“This is the first giant-screen film about what lived in the water during the dinosaur age,” said producer Lisa Truitt, president of National Geographic Giant Screen Films and Special Projects. “It is perfect subject matter for such an immersive format, one that allows these giants to literally swim off the screen and directly into the audience.”
The Cretaceous world was very different from the Earth we know. Eighty million years ago, places such as Kansas were at the bottom of a great inland sea that divided North America in two. A warmer climate meant more of the globe was submerged — Europe was just a smattering of islands, much of Asia was underwater and a shallow ocean engulfed nearly all of Australia. On this sodden sphere, cold-blooded seagoing reptiles flourished, and as these ocean giants died, their skeletons were left in locations that are now high and dry. The film already won Best Sound Editing and Visual Effects in their respective technical societies this year.

A school of ammonites.

Five Dolichorhynchops.



A sea of jellyfish.

More details are available at the National Geographic website:,
where I unexpectedly role-played the part of a paleontologist performing these “diggings” with the use of a hammer, a pick and a brush! It was an interactive experience that I enjoyed. Go try it yourself at the virtual dig site -!

Notice one fossilized Xiphactinus, a 17-foot-long predatory fish, found with an entire 6-foot fish inside — swallowed whole. Ayun, may isda sa tiyan ng isda.

Liev Schreiber narrates.

This is a 3D movie that children and adults can both sink their teeth into. The movie opens on October 22 at the SM Mall of Asia’s San Miguel Coca-Cola IMAX Theatre (what a mouthful!) The 15/70 film format used by IMAX is ten times larger than a conventional 35mm film and three times larger than a standard 70mm film. The sheer size of a 15/70 film frame, combined with the unique IMAX projection technology, is the key to the extraordinary sharpness and clarity of films exhibited in IMAX theatres.
The theatre itself has a specialized design and unobstructed views placing audiences right in the on-screen action. The large IMAX 3D screen, which is eight stories high (Singapore’s Omni-Theatre is only 5-stories high) – the screen spans from the ceiling down to the floor, eliminates the discomfort and decapitated edges of smaller-format 3D systems. The screen, coated with a special high-performance metallic paint, has a slight curvature that extends beyond the field of geometric recognition incorporating much of the audience’s peripheral vision, enhancing audience members’ feelings of being in the film. The images are enhanced by the state of the art digital surround sound system.
As of September 30, 2005, there were 261 IMAX theatres operating in more than 38 countries.

Now, the Philippines can enjoy this amazing technology. Though the entrance fee is a bit steep (P350 entrance fee – or $7.30), there is no denying the unique visceral experience to be had in watching an IMAX film. It has to be experienced! Call IMAX to verify the fees. For more information, call 556-IMAX (4629) or 556-0242; email or log on to

Dusk along EDSA.

Oh yes! It's beginning to look a lot like THAT season again! In the Philippines, the Christmas season is celebrated for an average of 4 months!

-->Shrine of the Way, the Truth and the Life, Reclamation Area, Pasay City - this Spanish-inspired church rises above a reclamation area beside the world's 3rd largest mall - the SM MAll of Asia. It's allegedly the brainchild of mall tycoon Henry Sy's wife who thought of building a church first before the mall. And in "Field of Dreams" fashion, "you build it, they will come."
This is the Eye in the Sky!


Anonymous said...

i'm gonna watch it. i like dinos and their kind.

Unknown said...

hindi ba matatakot ang mga kids nyan?

Twin said...

Eye, my first IMAX experience was "Beauty and the Beast" at Toronto during New Year's Day. They gave pa the audience a red rose as souvenir. Havent tried watching 3D "educational" films. Di ba boring? U2 3D was fun, Bono was singing right in front of us, although I was not familiar with some songs, hehe. Great dusk photo. You know, my number 1 choice for my big day (if IT will happen) is the Shrine...mahangin and the space is just right!

Sidney said...

Thanks for pointing this out to us. Will try to watch this movie...looks really spectacular !

jepayuki said...

hello eye! this is an educational post, i suddenly remembered ross from the comedy hit show "friends"...his profession is a paleontologist..i couldn't get over the jokes in all 10 seasons of that sitcom! =)

eye in the sky said...

@ tristan: yeah, go watch and let me know how you find the movie.

eye in the sky said...

@ lucy: some parts will jolt the kids, not "scare" them. as far as i saw, most of the kids who watched the screening when i watched (children outnumbered the adult population) were having a great time.

eye in the sky said...

@ twin: if i found it boring, then why would i even write about it here? it has a narrative that the audience can follow, not a straight-on docu.

eye in the sky said...

@ sidney: my pleasure. just thought i'd share this with others who enjoy spectacles like this. my 5 year old niece was beside herself, she was overwhelmed with the experience. she was gibberish while she told her lola about the movie.

eye in the sky said...

@ jepay, now that you pointed it out. oh yes, ross was a paleontologist, although he never seemed to have any field work. david schwimmer is just darn funny. kudrow too, who i saw a few nights ago guesting in "ellen". she did an improv with ellen degeneres in the latter's show, and she was hilarious even without a script.