Film review: ‘PANDAS 3D’, by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

Pandas 3D continues the fine tradition of IMAX nature documentaries, this time looking at China’s panda preservation program. Narrated by Kristen Bell, the film introduces us to the very cute Qian Qian, a female panda selected for a program designed to help pandas born in captivity transition to the wild in the huge national park known as the Chengdu Panda Base.  Leading this project is American biologist Dr Jake Owens (who addressed the audience prior to the screening) who works with Chinese researchers and bear guru Ben Kilham whose pioneering work with American black bears forms the basis for Dr Jake’s approach with Qian Qian.

The IMAX format is perfect for these sorts of documentaries as it captures the wonderful expansive landscapes in a way a conventional screen can’t. The 3D format also makes the experience more immersive here taking us into the stunning steamy forests of the Chengdu Panda sanctuary.

The documentary features adorable scenes of panda cubs capering around exploring their environment and chewing on everything in sight including Dr Jake’s head. There are a few dramatic moments when Qian Qian is in peril but there’s nothing here that will upset children.

A bonus is the soundtrack curated by DEVO’s Mark Mothersborough who includes ZZ Top’s ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ and the Ramones’ cover of ‘Do You Want to Dance’.

Like most IMAX films Pandas 3D skims over a lot of the scientific issues and oddly says little about broader environmental concerns but as an insight into these playful but sadly endangered creatures this is a delight.

Nick’s rating: ***1/2

Genre: Documentary.

Classification: CTC.

Director(s): David Douglas, Drew Fellman.

Release date: 15th June 2018.

Running time: 40 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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