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Originally published April 19, 2012 at 3:01 PM | Page modified April 20, 2012 at 12:49 PM

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Movie review

'To the Arctic 3D': Global-warming film may melt your heart

A review of the movie "To the Arctic 3D," an IMAX documentary that introduces viewers to the wonders of the frozen (though melting) north.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 3 stars

'To the Arctic 3D,' a documentary directed by Greg MacGillivray. 40 minutes. Rated G. Pacific Science Center's Boeing IMAX Theater.

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Beginning with a magical shower of 3D snowflakes, Greg MacGillivray's IMAX documentary "To the Arctic 3D" takes us to the frozen north — or, rather, the not-so-frozen north. Its breathtaking photography has a purpose beyond pretty pictures: to remind us that climate change is causing the frigid Arctic to melt, bringing disruption and challenges to the animals who can only live in snow and ice. As Meryl Streep tells us in her calm, quiet narration, "It's the only home they will ever have."

We meet a mother polar bear and her two cubs as she shepherds them across floating islands of ice, guarding them against predatory male bears (who, as the seal population dwindles, sometimes look to cubs for food). We briefly join a couple whose "honeymoon" is to travel for many weeks with a graceful herd of caribou; watch as a bear becomes fascinated with a cleverly camouflaged robot camera (it looks like a chunk of ice with legs); look on as a walrus lurches into the azure water with a bulky, lumbering grace; and see a bear swimming, filmed from underwater, using only its powerful front legs to propel itself fluidly forward. And we see a vast glacier with picturesque "waterfalls" spurting from its sides — it's melting, and over time becoming smaller and smaller.

The images are dazzling, but you wish the film — it's the standard IMAX length of 40 minutes — had time to go into a little more depth with its stories (and wonder why Streep's narration oddly repeats itself at the end). But "To the Arctic 3D" is a visual treat, and an important reminder.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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