Skip to main content
The Independent Critic

Kristen Bell (Narrator), Wen Lei Bi, Rong Hou, Ben Kilham, Jacob Owens
David Douglas, Drew Fellman
Drew Fellman
Rated G
40 Mins.
IMAX/Warner Brothers

 "Pandas" Opens April 6th at IMAX at Indiana State Museum 
Add to favorites

To call the 40-minute IMAX documentary Pandas mesmerizing is probably an understatement. Co-directed by David Douglas and Drew Fellman (Born to be Wild, Island of Lemurs: Madagascar), Pandas is an IMAX documentary that you want to see on IMAX where you can get that feeling of being immersed into the lives of these most beautiful animals that everyone seems to love but very few of us actually understand. 

The film kicks off at Chengdu Panda Base in China, a remarkable facility where scientists are dedicated to protecting the actually quite rare Giant Panda and have started a breeding program in order to introduce panda cubs into the wild. Pandas centers around one particular researcher, Rong Hou, who has dedicated her life to Giant Pandas and yet has struggled with one particularly important challenge - re-introducing panda cubs into the wild in an effort to grow the population outside captivity. When she discovers a similar program run by New Hampshire-based Ben Kilham involving black bears, she travels to New Hampshire to meet with Kilham and the two join forces in planting the seeds for a China-based effort to re-introduce panda cubs born in captivity into the mountains where their chances for survival are the greatest. 

She is joined by an American biologist, Jacob Owens, along with a scientist from Inner Mongolia, Wen Lei Bi. It doesn't take too long to identify a potential panda cub to begin the program and much of Pandas centers around the efforts by this quartet of compassionate researchers and scientists to prepare the cub, named Qian Qian, for a life-changing experience. 

The majority of Pandas takes place in the mountains of Sichuan and is captured using IMAX® Cameras that follow Qian Qian on as she takes her first steps outside her protected habitat, discovering her true animal nature while facing the hazardous challenges of this very new life. Douglas's lensing of the film is nothing short of astounding, both capturing the inevitable cuteness of these bears that are beloved globally and yet also capturing the very real challenges and hazards of life in the wild and the challenges faced by the researchers in caring for and tracking Qian Qian and the other pandas in their charge. 

Pandas is narrated with vibrance and soft compassion by actress Kristen Bell, whose ability to playfully use her voice as a companion to Qian Qian's often entertaining antics helps the film become a genuinely informative and entertaining IMAX film that is easily worth your trip to your local IMAX theater. The film arrives in Indy at the IMAX Theater at the Indiana State Museum on April 6th and it should have no problem attracting adoring audiences. 

Pandas is rated G and is definitely a family friendly film, though a scene or two of a panda in peril may have the smallest children asking if the panda is going to be alright. These scenes are beautifully shot and handled and, again, the film is easily safe for the entire family and, in fact, the entire family, parents included, will enjoy it. 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic