'Caves' goes deep

Staff WriterOctober 1, 2004 

Going down?

In "Journey Into Amazing Caves," we are introduced to American microbiologist Dr. Hazel Barton and her British partner Nancy Aulenbach -- two of the most adorable pieces of cave-dwelling sweetness you'll ever see.

The two thrill-seeking scientists serve as our intrepid tour guides for this sprawling IMAX documentary. "Caves" has Barton and Aulenbach hipping audiences to the wonderful world of caving. (Well, they say it's wonderful.) The movie follows them as they scale down mountains in the Arizona desert, pick away at ice caves in Greenland and go deep-sea caving in the Yucatan, mostly to find and study condition-adapting microorganisms called extremophiles. (That sounds more like a good name for Barton and Aulenbach.)

Produced by the same cats who did "Everest" -- "Everest" narrator Liam Neeson also provides not-so-Irish narration for this flick -- "Caves" does have its visually sweeping moments amid the globe-trotting and excavating. These shots, expertly caught by co-producer/director Stephen Judson and five cinematographers, are enough to keep even those who don't have the slightest bit of interest in bacteria-searching entranced.

"Caves" does have a peculiar bonus, something that '60s music fans would appreciate. The movie is covered with The Moody Blues performing grand, instrumental versions of their own tunes. So, if anyone ever wanted to know what "Nights in White Satin" or "Your Wildest Dreams" would sound like as score music for an IMAX movie, here is your chance to find out.

Staff writer Craig D. Lindsey can be reached at 829-4760 or clindsey@newsobserver.com.

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