Adventures In Wild California

on May 12, 2000 by Mike Kerrigan
Greg MacGillivray has the best job in the movies. For more than 30 years he has traveled the world, capturing unforgettable images to be shown on giant screens. He also has, arguably, the toughest job, because each time he has to find images impressive enough to keep audiences coming back for more.

In "Adventures in Wild California," MacGillivray has at least of couple of moments that are guaranteed to be something never seen before. By far the most impressive is a trip inside the second tallest tree on the planet. That's right--inside.

A 265-foot tall sequoia has been rumored to be hollow in the center and botanist Steve Sillett, with an Imax crew in tow, sets out to investigate. This involves climbing the 2,000-year-old giant and then lowering themselves, plus gear, into a vertical living cave that turns out to be 130 feet deep. The results are some truly awesome pictures and statistics. As the cameras rolls in the tiny space Dr. Sillett casually examines wood that dates back to sometime B.C.

Another amazing visual is Dr. Peter Sharpe dangling at the end of a cable slung below a helicopter, returning a bald eagle chick to a nest high on a cliff on Catalina Island, 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. The egg had been taken from the nest and hatched in the lab because DDT pollution had made the shells too thin to survive naturally.

Then comes the sequel. Mom bald eagle shows up and takes a look at the newborn. With a highly creditable show of equanimity, the fierce looking bird pauses for only a moment--as if to say, "Hey, this place didn't look like this when I left!"--before coughing up lunch for her baby.

There is some filler, but one clever cut alone is worth the price of admission: During a thrilling roller coaster ride in Disneyland, the viewer hurtles into the blackness of a tunnel...only to emerge flying over the Sequoia National Park. Directed by Greg MacGillivray. Written by Mark Krenzien. Produced by Greg MacGillivray, Mark Krenzien and Alec Lorimore. A MacGillivray Freeman release. Unrated. Running time: 40 min

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