Before I watched “Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D,” the new IMAX movie opening at the National Museum of Natural History today, I made a mental note to consider during the screening whether or not Owen, who is not quite five, could enjoy it. (After all, I am reviewing this for a blog about things to do with kids.) Well, that whole plan went out the window within minutes of the movie’s start, as I got swept up – you could almost say literally – in a spectacular 45-minute experience of breathtaking scenery, adrenaline-pumping action, and a huge eye-opener about water issues impacting our nation’s iconic landscape and the world over.
The film opens to a shot of the Colorado River – calm, clear water with rocky cliffs reflecting off the glassy surface. It’s not long before the scene does a 360 and turns into a wild whitewater ride as we join author and anthropologist Wade Davis, environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and their daughters on a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon. And when I say join them, I mean it feels like you are sitting in the inflatable boat paddling through churning rapids amid some of the most majestic landscapes imaginable. (And this is all to a spot-on soundtrack by Dave Matthews, which I have to admit, the college girl in me adores.)
But the film is about more than just their trip. Narrated by Robert Redford, a recognized champion of environmental issues himself, we’re presented with staggering figures about decreasing water levels, a history of the people who have lived off the surrounding land, historic images that show precisely how the river’s topography has changed over the last century, and disheartening facts about river species that have become extinct in recent years.
This is a lot for a nearly five-year-old to take in, but I think any child with a love of nature and bent for adventure will be sold on the 3D action and scenery alone. Besides the journey on the Colorado, we get to soar over the Grand Canyon, stand at the edges of lofty cliff sides and peer over plunging waterfalls. That said, children who get queasy on rough rides might have a difficult time with some parts. As for comprehending the environmental issues, kids about ages eight and up will probably understand the significance, especially with some discussion about them afterward. And kids of all ages should get the water conservation tips presented in a fun way at the end.
Not only am I making plans to take Owen to see the film, I’m also thinking about a family vacation in Arizona.
Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D opens today, November 12, at the Johnson IMAX Theater at the National Museum of Natural History. Show times begin as early as 10:25am. Tickets are $9/adult, $7.50/kids ages 2-12.