Volcanoes: The Fires of Creation

It’s so great as a film critic when something is so reliable. Being entertained by the latest IMAX movies at the Fleet Science Center is something I can count on. A few months ago it was Pandas. The latest film is Volcanoes: The Fires of Creation.

The great thing about these two films is that you could bring the whole family to them. As interesting as the aircraft carrier flick was, I’m sure the youngsters got bored. No child is going to be bored watching hot lava spewing out of various volcanoes around the world.

It’s not just the excitement of watching National Geographic photographer/explorer Carsten Peter rappel down the side of a volcano to get better photos and collect rocks for study. You also learn a lot about how the Earth and moon were created, as well as sea life, vegetation and the ecosystem in general. Of course they talk about Pompeii, which will be interesting for the youngsters that don’t know about that incredible event. With over 500 active volcanoes in the world, this film crew also hit Ethiopia, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Congo, Mexico City, and of course, Hawaii. And for those of us that remember the recent activity there and the destruction that it caused, we get some glimpses of that, too.

The shots of the geysers and mineral deposit fields in Ethiopia might be the most beautiful things I’ve seen on screen all year. Amazing when you think of how you can see something so astounding on screen — and it wasn’t created by CGI; and on the dome IMAX screen, it’s even more incredible.

When Peter has to dodge boulders at an active volcano in Indonesia, I couldn’t help but think about the news story of a guy in Hawaii that had his leg broken on his balcony a mile away, from a rock that flew out of a fissure. There was also the boat that got hit by flying debris. And here’s Peter attached to ropes and sporting a gas mask (something I hadn’t considered when these people are that close). At one point early in the movie, he has to delay things a few months because of the bad weather. Who knew there would also be acid rain because of all this? And I thought you’d only have to worry about bears when you’re sleeping outside in a flimsy tent. My wife and I spent the drive home discussing whether or not acid rain could penetrate the tarp of a tent.

I met a movie critic 20 years ago that loved looking for flubs in films. One of his favorites was in Spartacus, seeing folks running down a hill wearing wrist watches and tennis shoes. In this documentary, I caught one of the guys on the top of a volcano walking with his crew…wearing flip-flops. That’s not a flub, though. Just a hysterical moment witnessing these scientists and photographers risking their lives to give us some amazing footage. The least you could do is take the family to see it. And…the tourists walking around Balboa Park can come in wearing their flip-flops. It’s certainly a safer environment for them.

4 stars out of 5.