Naturally beautiful, but excessively campy when describing history.
As long as the producers stayed away from humans, the movie was
beautiful. It was really nice to see the dynamics of wildlife and some
of the natural splendor of the park. Unfortunately, we didn't get enough of
it. And sometimes, we got too much of it. Either the shots were so
short that we barely glimpsed what was being shown, or the images were kept
on-screen for too long. As wondrous as the geysers were, did we
really need to see a dozen of them? Besides, the shots were so static, that
they didn't seem as wondrous as they should have. But maybe we were
better off with those static shots. Many of the dynamic ones were way
too jumpy, or way too close up. The falcon (or eagle?) was, as usual,
nice to watch, but as we followed it from tree to tree, the camera would bounce
and slew too far at times.
The technique was not very good on this film. Besides the jerkiness
of the camera, especially on close-up shots, we as the audience had to move
our heads too often to see the action. It is one thing to frame action
on the side of the screen in a regular movie, so that the scenery takes up the
rest of the screen. But on a large screen like this -especially on the
dome- to have to move from the extreme left to the extreme right is
distracting, and nauseating, as well.
I enjoyed the trip down the Columbia river, but that, too suffers from the
problems of the early IMAX film style. In films made earlier than this
one, travelers down the river would get swept up into the rapids, getting
dunked, and providing us with an exciting experience only possible on the IMAX
screen. But during those exciting travels down the river, the camera
becomes way too jerky. I guess steady-cams have been developed for these
kind of things, as the similar experience on the roller coaster in
California fared better. I don't mind the thrill of jouncing up and
down; it's the jerkiness of the film that I disapprove of.
The music of the movie was also outstanding. Performed by Bill Conti,
who also did the wonderful instrumentals for The Karate Kid Part II, every
scene has some accompaniment. And all of it is relevant. Energized
when going through exciting parts, quiet and melodious when required, it was
actually the best part of the film.
However, whenever humans came onto the screen, I had to cringe. From
the natives who inhabited the area centuries ago, through the explorers of the
Columbia river, to the Jesuit priest who brought fame to the area and the
others who explored it more thoroughly and helped bring about the creation of
the park, the actors were bad. And the situations were bad.
And the dialog was also pretty poor. The (obviously) trained bear attack
on the campsite was absurd. The researcher who founded the theory of a
volcanic caldera was hilarious (in a bad way) in his attempts to appear
surprised and awed at finding evidence for his theory. And it went on and
Still, the natural beauty of the Yellowstone national park made seeing this
movie barely worthwhile. Or maybe not quite. But added to the
wonderful music, it was worth seeing. Being a fairly old movie, I think
the quality of the film stock has degraded, and that's a shame. It made
the park seem a little washed-out in places. Still, watching geysers
erupt like Old Faithful and others did, and seeing the obvious beauties like
all the waterfalls and the not-so-obvious ones like the mud springs, made the
time well spent. While this film was by far one of the worst IMAX films
I've seen, it is not terrible, because they did show us some nature, and that
can't be too bad.