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A whirling, swirling and hurling IMAX experience

Watch 'CyberWorld 3D' with open eyes, empty stomach

graphic

In this story:

Lovely distractions

D'oh! Is this Moe's?


RELATED SITES Downward pointing arrow


(CNN) -- If "CyberWorld 3D" immediately sounds like the kind of thing you'd be willing to sit through while wearing a bulky pair of goggles, you should probably see it. It is, after all, the world's first animated 3D film, and it was produced in the gargantuan IMAX format.

If, on the other hand, you've had it up to your neck with endlessly hectic computer animation, drop the kids off at the theater and go grab a shot of caffeine. They'll be marveling over the experience when you come to reclaim them, and you'll have the extra boost of energy you need to wipe up the little ones' post-viewing vomit in the back seat.

"CyberWorld 3D"'s groundbreaking technology is vastly superior to blurred-vision fests like "Creature from the Black Lagoon" (1954) and "Jaws 3-D" (1983). It's a major leap ahead in 3D animation.

Unfortunately, you can't escape the sensation that you might end up wearing the contents of your stomach while you watch it.

A couple of swirling point-of-view shots, in particular, seem designed solely to induce nausea. Chronic over-bedazzlement isn't the only stumbling block, though. There's also a sexy animated hostess named Phig (voiced by "Dharma and Greg"'s Jenna Elfman). She's a bit of a bummer, even though her body is surprisingly hot for someone who doesn't really exist.

Her sarcastic Lara ("Tomb Raider") Croft-style interludes serve as connective tissue for a wide assortment of mind-bending clips. (Some of the sequences, including a piece featuring The Simpsons and an excerpt from 1998's "Antz," were originally shown in non-3D form.)

Lovely distractions

Phig's adventures, which include a continuing battle with some "computer bugs" that are literally scampering through the innards of a computer -- that's the level of the film's geeky humor -- are just as beautifully animated as the showcase pieces. But every time Phig-Elfman makes an appearance, you feel the same way you do when you're watching a Marx Brothers picture and suddenly have to endure four minutes of Kitty Carlisle: You find yourself trying to look around her. That says a lot for the 3D process, but not much for her.

As you might imagine, it's difficult to convey the gist of clips with titles like "Monkey Brain Sushi" and "KraKKen: Adventure of Future Ocean."

Almost all the images are "like" something without being like anything at all. The spaceship set where Phig does her jumping and tumbling looks like the inside gatefold of the Electric Light Orchestra's "Out of the Blue" album, if you're old enough to remember that 1977 disc. One sequence, which is basically an elaborate Pet Shop Boys music video, features the Boys' disembodied, gold-plated heads flapping on gilded wings through a heavenly setting that's exploding into thousands of miniature cones ... or something "like" that. It seems they weren't kidding at Woodstock when they warned against the brown acid.

D'oh! Is this Moe's?

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You can't blame computer-effects artists for wanting to expand their craft. It would be nice, however, if they could avoid creating further doses of drippy-gloppy Dali-esque surrealism.

And lumbering whales (or whale-like creatures) have gotten to be the computer-generated equivalent of couples kissing in the rain at the end of romantic comedies; apparently, people think they've been cheated if they don't get to see one before it's all over.

By and large, though, the fun stuff outweighs the bad. The IMAX screen allows you to get lost in the film, to an extent that was previously unheard of outside of more sophisticated amusement park rides. And there's a lot of nifty flying, swooping, and swimming sensations to keep you giggling when what you're watching is too forcefully peculiar to really enjoy.

There's so much bio-mechanical razzle-dazzle on display, it's a huge relief when Homer Simpson shows up near the end of the movie, acting somewhat like a human being. Though images float in front of and around you throughout the film, and a state-of-the-art sound mix helps draw you into an alternate reality, there's something to be said for an occasional burst of well-written simplicity.

You can bet "CyberWorld 3D" is suitable for all ages. They don't spend this much time, money, and energy making Ingmar Bergman movies leap out at you. Not Rated. 47 minutes.



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