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Originally published Friday, February 4, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Bow before "Forces of Nature"

If the recent Indonesian earthquake hasn't made it clear, our planet only looks like a fragile, pretty place. In fact, Earth is extremely...

Special to The Seattle Times

If the recent Indonesian earthquake hasn't made it clear, our planet only looks like a fragile, pretty place. In fact, Earth is extremely volatile, constantly rebuilding and tearing itself apart.

Eight years in the making and directed by four-time Oscar nominee and IMAX veteran George Casey ("The Eruption of Mount St. Helens!"), "Forces" is a pulse-quickening, ringside seat to the devastation wrought by the Soufriere volcano on the island of Montserrat, the North Anatolian fault line running through Turkey, and twisters mysteriously forming along the U.S. Midwest's "Tornado Alley."

Movie review

Showtimes and trailer 4 stars

"Forces of Nature," narrated by Kevin Bacon. Directed by George Casey, from a screenplay by Mose Richards. 40 minutes. Not rated, suitable for general audiences. Pacific Science Center Eames IMAX Theatre.

In each case, Casey follows the work of dedicated scientists taking substantial personal risks to better understand how to predict coming disasters. Enormous, crystal-clear images — as seen on the Eames IMAX screen — of Marie Edmonds and her team planting sophisticated equipment along the mouth of the Soufriere volcano are spectacular, to say the least. At that time, it was building a lava dome that eventually blew 10 miles high.

The part on geophysicist Ross Stein's earthquake-progression computer model, which anticipated the 1999 quake that leveled the Turkish city of Izmit and foresees destruction in Istanbul, is equally dramatic. Same with tornado-chaser Joshua Wurman's dream of radar-mapping the inside of a tornado — if only he and his crew could position their Doppler satellite trucks in exactly the right spots at the right moment.

Often breathtaking, "Forces of Nature" reminds us of the true meaning of global power.

Tom Keogh:

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