Sunday 7 April 2019

Amazon Adventure IMAX London Review April 2019

Ad: Arriving at the IMAX this morning - pic below - for Amazon Adventure 3D  "a true story of scientific discovery" which was truly amazing. We are clearly not as experienced as Henry Bates (the star of the movie) at exploring, as we circled the formidable eye catching IMAX building prior to realising there were no ground level access points and we needed to find subway entrances. Hey with kids it was an "adventure" forgive the pun and Lottie was very excited with the illuminated tunnels. Besides given that I get everywhere early, even with that diversion we were still 30 minutes early, but allowed in by security yay!!!

Aaron was thrilled with the place and wanted to pose with everything. He now obviously wants to see Shazam too:
 We took every opportunity we could for a photo.
 Whilst we waited to be allowed upstairs the kids made themselves comfortable:
Once upstairs with croissants, tea, coffee and goodies bags, Serkan arrived, so 4 of the 7 cousins were together. The youngest of course has to sit on the eldest's knee........ awww!
I remembered that 7th April specifically was a cast screening so I decided to explore with the objective of seeking out cast members. I wasn't disappointed to find the lovely William Postlethwaite who plays Samuel Stevens. Being that this was before the movie I was really confused when he said he wasn't in the Amazon for filming and "filmed his bits in London". I was like "with a green screen?" to be told "no". It all made sense within SECONDS of the movie starting. He may not have a tropical role but it truly was a crucial and critical one.

Samuel Stevens (William Postlethwaite)
Samuel Stevens (William Postlethwaite) was a natural history agent in London where he sold specimens of wild creatures collected from around the world. Two of his best-known clients were Henry Bates and Alfred Wallace, whom he supported on their joint expedition to the Amazon by displaying and selling their specimens.
This support was crucial - it was the finances upon which the explorers relied! 

I'm finding myself reluctant to tell you anything about the film as I can't recommend it enough and would prefer not to accidentally give you any spoilers. Don't look at the youtube trailers as they don't in any way do it justice. The cinematography lends itself to 3d and the large immersive IMAX screen. You literally feel as if you are IN the rain forest and youtube just doesn't offer that. My kids really trust me as they came today, and woke REALLY early on the strength of the youtube videos but like me they were truly blown away.

It's so interesting to know that Darwin required PROOF for his theories and that Bates was critical in providing that. That's all I will say for now :-)

I truly don't know how those two driven explorers withstood the elements. How inspiring their journey was. Truly humbling! I'm not at all surprised the writer admitted to having a crush on Bates and feeling his was a story that must be told.

After the movie I stepped away from the kids for a minute, leaving them with their older cousin, so that I could approach Director Mike Slee above. He'd spoken at length to our whole audience at the beginning of our special 7th April screening and I was fascinated by everything he'd said, sharing it in my Instagram stories. I was delighted he allowed us to have a photo taken with him. I had to split up a sibling disagreement to recruit Aaron for the photo - I don't know you can't take your eyes off them even for a moment. I was glad Aaron found his smile once again as he truly LOVED the film - captivated and mesmerized throughout. He turned to me as the credits rolled and quietly said in awe "Mum that was AMAZING!!!" Mike Slee asked Aaron what his favourite bit of the movie was and he said the camouflaging. So below I give you the Vine Lizard. We had a chat about his aims one of which was that every child should watch the film. The movie is 100% a must watch in terms of education if you want to know more about evolution and our planet. The script is written (beautifully by Wendy MacKeigan) in such a way that it is digestable for kids whilst also being academically stimulating for adults. Each sentence was punchy and the pace of the story worked in beautiful harmony with the cinematography. Totally gripping, romantic and nostalgic. The story was as immersive as the huge IMAX screen itself. As for the 3d it's the best I've ever seen. Lottie was literally reaching out to try and catch butterflies as it felt like they were THAT close to us and that's even though we were up in the stars practically in the back row.

The vine lizard camouflages with the tree vines to hide from predators:
I was thrilled when I spotted Bates himself (actor Calum Finlay) and even more so when I realised (actor Ed Birch) Wallace was with him. They both kindly chatted and posed with us below:

Alfred Russell Wallace (Ed Birch) - pictured far left above

Alfred Russell Wallace (Ed Birch) was in the Amazon for four years, the first of which he spent working with Bates, before there was a death in his family. He was beset by illness and forced to return to England, tragically losing his collection of specimens in a shipwreck on the journey home. He was rescued and unrelenting, he pushed on to the Malay Archipelago where he continued to study and collect wildlife and independently conceived the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Henry Bates (Calum Finlay)

Henry Bates (Calum Finlay) is one of the unsung heroes of evolutionary biology. His insatiable curiosity and 11 year journey in the Amazon river basin led him to discover 8,000 species new to science and develop his groundbreaking theory of mimicry. 
Being that he's the star of the movie click: about Bates.

The co stars in the actual movie itself:
Another cheesy pic on the way out:

Oh and just before we left I spotted the Director with none other than Brian May so my morning was complete:

Our attendance at the movie was complementary 
in exchange for an honest review
 - I have not received any compensation other than entrance 
and refreshments 
and 3d glasses.
 I have not been told what to say and all opinions are our own. 
All five of us (ages 17, 11, 8, 3 and 46)
truly loved the film and found it captivating 
beginning to end. 
I could have sat there for a further hour truth be told.


Book your IMAX tickets here: AMAZON ADVENTURE show times



Open to the public from 1st April, with special cast screening on 7th April, at London’s BFI IMAX attended by lead actor Calum Finlay, director Mike Slee and writer Wendy MacKeigan

AMAZON ADVENTURE, a spectacular IMAX®/Giant Screen film from award-winning SK Films brings audiences on a visually stunning odyssey through the wilds of the Amazon rainforest in an incredible story of scientific discovery.

The film traces the extraordinary journey of naturalist and explorer Henry Walter Bates - the most influential British scientist you’ve probably never heard of – who provided “the beautiful proof” to Charles Darwin for his then controversial theory of natural selection, the greatest scientific explanation for the development of life on Earth. As a young man, Bates risked his life for science during his 11-year expedition into the Amazon rainforest, accompanied for the first few years by his friend Alfred Wallace. AMAZON ADVENTURE is a compelling detective story of peril, perseverance and, ultimately, success, drawing audiences into the fascinating world of animal mimicry, the astonishing phenomenon where one animal adopts the look of another, gaining an advantage to survive.

Filmed on location in London, Manchester, Charles Darwin’s Down House and the remote Brazilian rainforest, AMAZON ADVENTURE uses the IMAX format to immerse viewers into a wild world of breath-taking beauty and captivating animal behavior. Things are not always as they seem in the jungle and audiences will be mesmerized by an array of nature’s masters of mimicry. From the makers of the immensely popular and multiple award-winning film Flight of the Butterflies 3D, the film is directed by Britain’s own Mike Slee and executive produced by Jonathan Barker and Sean B. Carroll, starring Calum Finlay as Henry Bates, written by Wendy MacKeigan and Carl Knutson and shot by UK cinematographers Gerry Vasbenter and Richard Kirby, with an original score by Brazilian composer Antonio Pinto. Although filming in the Amazon was very challenging, the team constantly reminded themselves of what it must have been like for Bates, without any of the transportation and communication technologies available today. 

Painstakingly researched for three years, AMAZON ADVENTURE enlisted the expertise of more than 100 scientists and historical advisors. MacKeigan and Slee sought out over 400 pieces of original research, which enabled them to draft the most comprehensive and accurate script and cinematic visualization of 19th century Amazonian exploration ever produced. “It’s an educational film so nothing was left to chance or uncorroborated” states MacKeigan. “What you will see is precisely the way it was for Bates.”

The team’s commitment to authenticity not only resulted in this rigorous re-creation, even using actual instruments and tools from the 1850s, but the writing team also incorporated many of Bates’ own words, as he was a gifted storyteller. The film, a co-production between Canada, the UK and Brazil, was granted unprecedented access by the Natural History Museum of London to film Bates’ own scientific field notebooks and botanical drawings, and to film the butterflies he personally collected over 160 years ago – butterflies that had never left the museum and had to go into quarantine for two weeks after filming.

Developed and produced in close collaboration with HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, the film also received major funding from the National Science Foundation. Other key partners include the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Simons Foundation and Foxconn Brazil.

About SK Films
SK Films is an award-winning content provider and a global leader in the IMAX®/Giant Screen industry. SK works across various genres and platforms, including theatrical, television and digital media, with a special emphasis on creating high impact natural history and science related content. SK has a reputation as one of the most accomplished and respected producers and distributors supplying 3D, 2D and Dome product to IMAX and other Giant Screen theatres worldwide, with a mission to entertain and inspire audiences and immerse them in the awe and wonder of the world we live in. For more information, please visit

About HHMI Tangled Bank Studios
HHMI Tangled Bank Studios is a production company established and funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as an extension of its longstanding science education mission. Dedicated to the creation of original science documentaries for broadcast, theatrical and digital distribution, the company’s award-winning programs address important contemporary issues and capture compelling stories of discovery across all branches of scientific inquiry. For more information, please visit

Run Time: 45 Minutes


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