3.5 stars. Rating: G, and suitable for all ages
By Derrick Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 8.26.11
If science class movies had been this cool, I never would have fallen asleep in school.
But, then, IMAX documentaries never have been run-of-the-mill educational films.
|The Boeing 787 slowly takes shape in the aircraft design company's enormous|
facility at Everett, Wash.: the largest enclosed building in the entire world.
Stephen Low's Legends of Flight offers tantalizing glimpses of aviation history, some nifty aerial footage and an unabashed love letter to Boeing. Indeed, when the final credits unspooled and mentioned that "the producers wish to thank all the fine folks at Boeing," I leaned over to my Constant Companion and murmured, "Um, I think that's backwards; all the fine folks at Boeing should be thanking the producers."
Really, this couldn't be a more blatant valentine to a single corporation.
But while such issues of crass commercialization are vaguely irritating, they don't detract from the sheer, unadulterated joy of the subject itself. From our days in the caves, mankind has dreamed about flying. That has never, ever changed, and we therefore enthuse over anything that conveys the exhilarating sense of wonder certain to be experienced when soaring aloft ... whether in a conventional passenger plane or an eerily silent glider.
Or by simply kicking back in a movie theater seat and vicariously getting a taste of flight, via a massive IMAX screen and cinematographer William Reeve's impressive 3D effects.
More than any other IMAX 3D film — and I've seen numerous — this one truly puts the image in our laps. Even knowing better, one is tempted to grab at stuff that appears to float directly in front of our noses. Reeve gets many amazing shots, whether straight into the spinning heart of a jet engine, or planted alongside the pilot of a passenger airplane, or within eardrum-shattering range as a Harrier Jump Jet takes off.
Indeed, at times we're so close that it's almost overwhelming; the screen image literally spills out beyond the range of our peripheral vision.
Sound editors Michel B. Bordeleau and Peter Thillaye also do a superb job, whether with the ambient noises within an aircraft factory, the roar of engines or the preternatural stillness of a glider in flight above massive, snow-covered mountains.
The "story," per se — it's telling that this film has no credited scripter — follows narrator and Boeing chief test pilot Mike Carriker, who back-stories the 787 program by explaining his company's desire to orchestrate the next big technological leap in passenger aircraft design. The "race" begins just after the turn of the new century, with engineers convinced that design improvements will need to focus on structural materials and wing design, rather than simply relying upon ever-more-powerful engines.