Amazon is a gorgeously scenic journey that sets sail with a promise to debunk pulp-fiction myths about the legendary river. There's a grainy clip of an old-timey Indiana Jones-type adventure, showing a white explorer fighting against hostile cannibals, killer crocodiles, and ferocious piranha. It's a great IMAX moment when the black-and-white stock footage gives way to the beautiful, hyper-real widescreen 70mm imagery of waterfalls, jaguars, Inca ruins, tramp steamers, and railroads winding through the mountains. One thing you can say about those grainy, black-and-white jungle adventures of yesteryear, though; they kept things simple. Amazon goes for a much broader picture of the region's history, culture, topology, animal and plant life (we may remember those swarming, carnivorous piranha, but pink dolphins are declared to be the Amazon's most famous aquatic inhabitants).
There's a lot of territory to cover, and the filmmakers try to do it by following the parallel wanderings of Mamani and Dr. Plotkin. But, by cross-cutting between the two men, as well as going off on tangents about the history of South American anthropological studies, Amazon tends to meander and fork off almost as much as the river itself. Still, it may inspire young anthropologists and junior explorers to find out more about the region.