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Film review: TITANS OF THE ICE AGE 3D, from Built For Speed

The fascinating but very brief IMAX documentary Titans of the Ice Age brings to life the world of two million years ago when ice sheets covered the earth.

Narrated in typically soothing and distinguished tones by veteran actor and one time Captain Von Trapp, Christopher Plummer, the film describes the climatic conditions that brought about the various ice ages and the immense creatures which populated the frozen landscape.

The film pays particular attention to the woolly mammoth, the massive cousin of today’s elephant which shambled across the snow-covered plains of prehistoric Europe, Asia and the Americas. Frozen in ice or submerged in California’s La Brea tar pits, the mammoth remnants that have been unearthed in the last century are remarkably well preserved. Scientists have even excavated a complete baby mammoth with flesh and fur intact.

Using impressive if not absolutely convincing cgi, the film depicts the mammoths, sabre-tooth tigers and dire wolves in their icy prehistoric habitat.  The film makes fine use of the IMAX format through stunning aerial and close-up shots of present day glaciers and immersive but not distracting 3D.  Evocative music also underscores the scale and grandeur of the vast landscapes and epic timescales presented here.

The film contains numerous intriguing snippets of information such as the fact that the dung of our old mate the giant sloth has, in some caves, barely decomposed and now provides a detailed forensic record of climate and vegetation changes across the Pleistocene era.  Also, we learn that the mammoth’s enormous tusks (which could grow to 16 feet long) were composed of concentric layers of dentine that, like tree rings, reveal the creature’s age.  It would have been interesting, however, to learn more about the various species extinction theories and geographical reasons for the ice age ending; consequently the documentary seems a little thin on content.

While Titans of the Ice Age feels incomplete, this well-constructed and clearly presented documentary is still captivating.

 

Nick’s rating: Three and a half stars.

Classification: PG.

Director(s): David Clark.

Release date: 20th June 2013.

Running time: 45 mins.

 

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