China: The Panda Adventure (NR)

Drama 48 June 9, 2001
By Melissa Maerz
Inspired by the autobiography of 1930s New York socialite Ruth Harkness, this fictionalized IMAX film could have made a great Gorillas in the Mist for the bamboo-eating set. In it, Harkness (Maria Bello) travels to Shanghai after her husband dies, aiming to continue his studies and to save the Giant Panda from hunters who'll make a killing with their pelts. But the melodrama begins the moment the movie does: Harkness's readings from her late husband's diaries could make Doogie Howser cringe, while the cultural significance of the panda bear in China is left largely undiscussed. The primary reason to see The Panda Adventure is the IMAX cinematography, which captures lush forests, trickling waterways, and panoramic vistas that almost outshine the titular creatures themselves. Yet compared to the heroine's own story, there are tragically few shots of the bears engaged in awwww-inspiring everyday activities. And let's face it: Even grownups go to see nature movies in order to drool over cute pet tricks. (Melissa Maerz)
Robert M. Young Maria Bello, Yu Xia, Xander Berkeley, Bill Hayes, Paul Pape Paul Andersen Antoine Compin, Charis Horton IMAX Corporation


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