Review: Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

PLOT: Terrence Malick presents a stylized documentary about the origins of the universe and the beginnings of life on earth.

REVIEW: A Terrence Malick film oftentimes can give viewers the sensation of watching an exquisitely crafted documentary. Perhaps that is why VOYAGE OF TIME: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE perfectly captures his stylistic approach to cinema. The film, a documentary on the creation of life on earth and beyond, features some of the most captivating photography you will see on film this year – or perhaps any year. Aside from a few less than stellar CGI dinosaurs, it is a visually wondrous world. The 44 minute feature manages to examine the beginnings of time to the world in which we currently live. With the incredible work from Malick and his cinematographer Paul Atkins, with narrative from Brad Pitt, this is a stunning and hypnotic experience.

This documentary short – there is a longer version featuring narration from Cate Blanchett – explores the beginning of time in a way only Malick can do. The filmmaker, by using amazing photography as well as special effects, shows us the very beginning of life itself. Presented at the California Science Museum in their magnificent IMAX theatre, VOYAGE OF TIME brings audiences in on a visually compelling odyssey. However, much like Malick’s previous work, the dialogue is simply stated with a poetic slant.

terrence malick brad pitt voyage of time documentary earth 2016

There is no denying what a brilliant visual storyteller Malick can be. By exploring the universe before our planet earth came to exist, the filmmaker takes something that he teased us with in THE TREE OF LIFE. This time, there is no family, only a young girl looking at the green grass below her feet. Or the concrete of a parking lot where she stands against the backdrop of tall buildings. The girl perhaps represents our own small scale in this big universe. She wanders through the grass as Brad Pitt’s calm words of life and love fill the viewers senses. It’s more than just a pretty picture. Watching this on such a massive screen, it is easy to disappear into the wonder of the world around us.

This just under 44 minute documentary has one slight fault, it is far too short – the other version featuring Blanchett is closer to an hour and a half. It quickly selects moments of the forming of the earth, the fate of the dinosaurs and the birth of man. Almost too quickly in fact. As a fan of Malick’s work, it’s a rare thing indeed to feel that one of his films is not long enough. This time however, once the end credits appear it is as though we have been rushed through his vision – a rare thing indeed for the filmmaker. Yet the fact that it is too short is a very small complaint indeed.

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When it comes to the narrator, Pitt is surprisingly eloquent bringing Malick’s romanticized dialogue to life. He ponders the universe and its creation, and the connection we all share with the world around us. The actor gives the words a surprising amount of weight considering the poetic nature of what he is speaking. Occasionally the dialogue drifts into pretension, but that is nothing unusual for the writer/director. If you are looking for a more scholastic documentary, you may find the words spoken are not all that educational. There is nothing straight forward about the information given in the slightest.

VOYAGE OF TIME: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE is a gorgeous documentary that is a must see on the biggest screen possible – if you happen to live in Los Angeles, the only place you will find the film currently is at the California Science Museum. It also wouldn't hurt to find a theatre with an amazing sound system because the score is lush and beautiful. For those looking for a basic approach to the how and why of who we are will most likely not be moved. Even still, it is near impossible to not be taken in by the gorgeous imagery on display. Sure the narration can get a little precious, but it still presents a world full of hope and mystery in an elegant way. Malick has taken what he entertained in THE TREE OF LIFE and crafted a documentary filled with beauty and hope, one that even the youngest viewers can at least fall in love with the images on the screen.




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