Movie reviews: 'Under the Sea 3D' and 'This Gun For Hire'

  • Updated: February 17, 2009 - 2:00 PM

'UNDER THE SEA 3D'

Sea snakes and stingrays and sharks, oh my! "Under the Sea 3D" (★★★ out of four stars, rated G) is a 40-minute IMAX dive beneath the South Pacific, where coral reefs seethe with marine life of stunning diversity and awesome beauty. The kid-friendly documentary is essentially one long swim among exotic, mysterious sea creatures. The images are glorious. There are tentacled cuttlefish whose bodies pulsate with ripples of color to attract a mate, and unlovely potato cod that could well be a submarine vegetable. When Australian sea lions -- playful, seal-like creatures with big, soulful eyes -- kiss the 3D camera lens, you can almost feel their whiskers tickle your cheek. There's even some aquatic comedy as an impudent carrier crab tosses a jellyfish onto its back like a shawl and ambles away. Jim Carrey's low-key narration gives us a Cliff's Notes introduction to the creatures and their environment. We meet the reef stonefish (the most venomous fish on the planet and surely the ugliest) and the chambered nautilus, a vanishing breed that once ruled the oceans. A science lesson on species extinction due to climate change is painlessly integrated into the undersea tour, with a sobering look at once-colorful coral reefs gone dead and gray because of rising temperatures. But the tone is optimistic that these amazing creatures can be saved, and the message that the ocean ecology is worth preserving is delivered without preaching. (Through June 14. Great Clips Imax Theatre, Minnesota Zoo, 12000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley. $7.50-$9. 952-431-4629.)

COLIN COVERT

'THIS GUN FOR HIRE'

Take-Up Productions continues its series of classic films, opening "From the Vaults of Universal: Seven Classic Film Noirs" with a gem. Director Frank Tuttle's 1942 "This Gun for Hire" (★★★ 1/2 out of four stars), adapted from a Graham Greene novel, begins with cat-loving hit man Philip Raven (Alan Ladd) finishing a job that sends him on the run after he's paid with "hot" cash. Ellen Graham (the sultry Veronica Lake) is hired to investigate Raven's employer. They form an alliance through a common goal: taking down Willard Gates. the film's thrilling bullet-laden finale, fast pace and lovely black-and-white photography more than makes up for some of the overt misogyny that was common in this genre and era. (7:30 p.m. Mon., Heights Theatre, 3951 Central Av. NE., Columbia Heights. 763-788-9079 or heightstheatre.com.)

Erik McClanahan

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