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Island of Lemurs: Madagascar

By MARTIN TSAI Los Angeles Times

This article was published August 22, 2014 at 2:41 a.m.

Film Name: ISLAND OF LEMURS: MADAGASCAR Copyright: ©2014 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. Photo Credit: Drew Fellman Caption: Pictured are Brown lemurs, as shown in the IMAXÆ film "ISLAND OF LEMURS: MADAGASCAR."

Island of Lemurs: Madagascar

Grade: 85

Cast: Documentary, narrated by Morgan Freeman

Director: David Douglas

Rating: G

Running time: 39 minutes

The IMAX 3-D documentary Island of Lemurs: Madagascar shines a spotlight on one of the earliest primates that coexisted with dinosaurs more than 60 million years ago. Although extinct in their native Africa, hundreds of lemur species have adopted Madagascar as home. But these wandering spirits are hardly thriving, as 90 percent of the forest has been torched since humans set foot on the island some two millennia ago.

The film highlights the few species taking refuge in the Ranomafana National Park and the preservation efforts shepherded by Patricia C. Wright, anthropology professor at Stony Brook University in New York.

Lemurs are indeed exquisite creatures and worthy subjects. A zoo enclosure would not have been an environment conducive to their sui generis song and dance that are on full display here. The film affords the opportunity to admire the animals up close, squeezing into nature's nooks and crannies to present the full scope of their habitat.

Even at a meager 39 minutes, the film feels padded. Large-format nature documentaries haven't progressed since the days when they were exclusively shown in domed auditoriums at museums, even as studios increasingly co-opt the IMAX 3-D technology. But so long as the jubilance brought about by lemurs can compel more protection for the near-extinct species, the film will have served its purpose.

MovieStyle on 08/22/2014

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