Across The Sea Of Time

on October 20, 1995 by Alex Albanese
"New York--As You Have Never Seen It Before" promises this film's poster, and indeed "Across the Sea of Time"--the latest 3-D IMAX film from the fine people at Sony New Technologies--is not your grandfather's travelogue. In fact, it's largely your great-grandfather's travelogue, because (in an interesting conceit) today's huge, full-motion, full-color stereoscopic technology is used to showcase yesteryear's small, still, monochrome stereoscopic images--turn-of-the century novelties not only unearthed but enlarged to the size of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons. They reveal fascinating detail in their then-and-now comparisons of the metropolis that comprise the film's heart, though not its spine.
The 3-D effect is also nicely exploited in a landmark-buzzing helicopter sequence and in sequences that provide a motorman's view of subway travel and a front-car seat on Coney Island's fabled Cyclone roller coaster. Yet this is all familiar IMAX territory; the current grail is an engaging story upon which to hang all the tricks, and in this regard "Across the Sea of Time" falls flatter than the layers of stereoscopic perspective.
The threadbare narrative follows a young Russian stowaway (Peter Ruznik) who arrives in modern-day NYC with only a great-great-uncle's viewmaster and yellowing letters to guide him. It's all either too treacly (the usual Ellis Island unsubtleties) or too creepy (a small boy alone on the streets), but it's always vaguely disturbing. And the acting gives "stilted" new meaning; these thesps wouldn't have made an Ed Wood casting cut. Artless in directing human beings, filmmaker Stephen Low should stick to his animation stand and helicopter mount. Starring Peter Reznik. Directed and produced by Stephen Low. Written by Andrew Giles. A Sony Classics release. Drama. Rated G. Running time: 40 min
Tags: Peter Reznik, Stephen Low, Andrew Giles, Sony Classics, drama, travel, NYC, IMAX

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