Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video

Photo: MacGillivray Freeman Films

Rotten Tomatoes
Showtimes & Tickets
Enter Zip Code:

Directed by Greg MacGilllivray
Produced by Mark Krenzien, Greg MacGilllivray & Shaun MacGillivray
Written by Steve Judson & Jack Stephens
Edited by Judson
Director of Photography, Brad Ohlund
Music by Steve Wood & Stefan Lessard
Released by MacGillivray Freeman Films
USA. 43 min. Not Rated
Narrated by Robert Redford

IMAX 3D, when used appropriately, can be as dynamic a visual experience as one can hope to witness. In Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk, this is proven from the moment go. Rushing down the rapids of the Colorado River, the film's credit sequence appears on drops of water that spray towards you. The Dave Matthews Band, a well-chosen source for the movie's soundtrack, keeps the mood upbeat, and, like the kayaks and rafts that we follow through the movie’s journey, propelling forward. As gorgeous as the movie looks – and you can be assured, it looks spectacular – the movie's topic is quite grave. The truth is that the Colorado River, like so many rivers around the world, is experiencing a drought that literally threatens its existence.

The film follows anthropologist Wade Davis and his daughter, Tara Davis, as they photograph and follow the river through the Grand Canyon. Also along for the trip are Robert Kennedy, Jr., son of the senator and a longtime environmental activist, and his daughter Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy. Early in the film, Kennedy reflects on how meaningful it is to share this particular adventure with his daughter, who is just preparing to leave for college. Footage of his father taking him to the Grand Canyon when he was roughly the same age as Kick makes this moment more resonant.

The crew has as its river guide Shana Watahomigie, the first Native American to become a National Park Service river guide and ranger in the Grand Canyon, and whose ancestors have lived along the Colorado River for centuries. Her knowledge of the river at every turn is impressive. At the beginning of the film, Shana must leave her daughter, too young to make the trip, behind. However, showing these cross-generational relationships in the context of this adventure delivers a clear message: we owe it to our children to insure their access to our natural resources. Clearly, so much is in the balance.

The film is just one in a series of 10 IMAX films regarding our planet's water (The Living Sea and Dolphins are two others) and produced by MacGillivray Freeman Films, a production company committed to its environmentalist message as well as to excellence in IMAX filmmaking. In addition to the film's beautiful cinematography, its adroit editing, and the aforementioned soundtrack, Robert Redford's exceptional narration is also worth mentioning. In addition to the expertise of both Davis and Robert Kennedy, Redford, like Al Gore, gives the film a heft and authenticity that can only come from someone with his level of commitment to environmentalism. The difference between Grand Canyon Adventure and An Inconvenient Truth is that the former is essentially a family film; it intentionally offers something for all ages. Adam Schartoff
March 15, 2008



Archive of Previous Reviews

Contact us