I'd seen this picture in 2-D prior. It's magnificent. Knowing that the 3D wasn't true, that it must have been recreated with a computer or something, I half expected to be let down. To my surprise, the man-made 3D isn't a let down. It isn't great. It doesn't have the power and thrust of genuine two lens 3D -- but it did add something to the film. I'm not sure that something was a full dimension -- maybe half. Perhaps we should call it 2.5D. Images in the foreground do feel separated by space from the sky and background --which appear quite flat. Remember the old view masters -- like that. Anyway, this is simply a good picture and the extra 1/2D doesn't subtract anything at all from it; in fact, it may help mask the graininess of the small film stock. (A silly aside: I challenge National Geographic to do a film on Squids and call it Roar of the Calamari.)
What follows is the review of the 2-D version of this film….
Some large format films deliver a wide range of landscapes, visual subject matter, or span great distances around the globe. "Roar" focuses on a lone waterhole in the arid Kalahari, like a lioness on her prey.
The film follows an old king and the two lionesses he watches over. But there is a young male in the brush looking for a duel, the winner of which gains the kingdom. This provides a strong story plot to an otherwise visually impressive wildlife documentary.
Though much of the footage is shot on 35mm (instead of 70mm, which previously defined large format), you'll no doubt find the incredible live action imagery captured worth the drop in resolution. Grainier than the format standard with a slight drop off in color, still, who can argue with an amazing shot of a lioness literally snatching a hopping spring buck out of the air. Absolutely stunning. Some wildlife productions seem to place their best shots strategically, filling in the in-betweens with lots of landscape. But, "Roar" is chockfull of strong wildlife shots: zebras, spring buck, all in abundance, even a few elephants to stir up the lions. There are very few "in-betweens." A few shots catch the lions prowling in the tall grass under a starry sky. Shot during the day, then manipulated in post... but still sweet.
A somewhat abrupt ending (with some hokie text) tops off an otherwise very well-paced, visually and mentally stimulating, production. A word of caution: though the lion "kills" aren't gory, these are still wild animals and there may be some viewers who will find the attack scenes perhaps too violent. Personally, I found them fascinating and educational.
Impressively filmed with good action, a compellingly dramatic (if a bit soapy) story line with simply great lion shots, "Roar" is worth the grain.
I spoke with producer Jini Durr at the screening and asked how a photographer could get so close to the lions without becoming lion food. She said, "lions aren't very interested in eating people." She also said, "In the heat the lions even rested in the shade of the cameraman."
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