IMAX Film Review: Mysteries of the Unseen World 3D (USA, 2014)


Were you aware of the centuries old space dust you breathe in daily? Or the billions of micro-organisms thriving on your body right now? Mysteries of the Unseen World 3D brings these little known facts to life, uncovering an invisible world, too fast, too slow and too small for the human eye.

A feat of high-speed and time-lapse photography, electron microscopy, and nanotechnology, this probing documentary presented by National Geographic calls to the budding scientist and biophile in all of us. Director Louie Schwartzberg cleverly transports his viewers with an interactive playfulness designed to educate and inspire a new generation of ecologists.

There’s a lot to like about this film, the scientific genre is taken with a grain of salt and there are certain drawn out humorous devices thrown in to keep the mood light and entertaining. Something as simple as an infra-red heat signature of a young girl eating an ice-cream next to her pet dog brings chuckles of delight, or literally watching grass grow and flowers bloom creates a sense of wonder. Images representing scientific metaphors are used cleverly throughout, to help audiences visualise a concept.

The micro and nano worlds are equally inspiring, exposing the public to cutting edge advancements in technology. Once again this topic is approached with teasing close-up images of cat fleas and caterpillar mouths, inciting a few ‘eewwww’ and ‘gross’ remarks from the audience. It’s refreshing to see an unbiased celebratory view of all aspects of nature, taking the ugliness of decomposing matter and skin mites, fleas, ticks what have you, alongside the beauty our planet has on offer. The 3D aspect and the giant IMAX screens are taken advantage of, with a few encompassing shifting segments adding to the ‘wow’ factor.

Clear segregation of the documentary into four distinct parts seems to disjoint the film’s flow, and a more holistic approach could have proven beneficial. Also the distinct American style and focus that National Geographic exudes is irksome at times, it would’ve been interesting to see how other countries were using the same technology.

These however are small gripes in what is an engaging and insightful look at the building blocks of our very existence, using methods that were mere ideas in their founder’s minds a few decades ago. Mysteries of the Unseen World 3D is a perfect example of what positive outcomes can be had when enterprising humans come together to preserve our natural resources.


Duration: 45 minutes

Mysteries of the Unseen World 3D premieres today, February 27th at IMAX Sydney, for session details please visit:


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