Volcanoes 3D: The Fires of Creation

Movie review by
Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media
Volcanoes 3D: The Fires of Creation Movie Poster Image
Nature docu has mild peril, footage of destructive lava.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 42 minutes

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age 8+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Aims more for breadth (cool examples of several kinds of volcanoes) than depth in terms of earth science. Aimed at general audiences and goes for the wow factor of looking right into active specimens and showing off rare footage of them in action.

Positive Messages

Discusses Earth's history and celebrates drive for scientific exploration.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The only "character" in the film is a National Geographic photographer who's so fascinated by volcanoes that he enters into strange, sometimes frightening situations to get the shots.

Violence & Scariness

Footage of neighborhoods being destroyed by lava and human remains from Pompeii. Cameraman and his climbing partner enter an active volcano, so there's some peril. 

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Volcanoes 3D: The Fires of Creation is a large-screen documentary that offers viewers a look inside live volcanoes. Some light geology and Earth history are discussed, but the movie is mostly about certain famous eruptions and the exploits of a National Geographic photographer who captures some of these unprecedented views. Expect mild peril to the photographer and his climbing partner and footage of volcanic destruction (as well as unearthed evidence of the devastation of Pompeii, including preserved human remains), but nothing is graphic or gets particularly scary.

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What's the story?

VOLCANOES 3D: THE FIRES OF CREATION (shown exclusively in IMAX and Giant Screen Theaters) offers viewers a look inside active volcanoes. Some light geology and Earth history are discussed, but it's mostly about certain famous eruptions and the exploits of National Geographic photographer Carsten Peter, who captures some of the unprecedented views captured for the film.

Is it any good?

The cinematography's the thing in this kind of film, of course, and it doesn't disappoint, with impressive images previously unseen by most. Volcanoes 3D: The Fires of Creation takes full advantage of the immersive giant-screen experience to give audiences the feeling of looking straight down into a volcano's mouth just as it erupts. And the 3D conversion helps create a sense of depth down that giant maw, increasing the intensity as it fires gas, smoke, and lava up at you. Likewise, the effect beautifully captures floating, fiery debris and conveys ocean depths where undersea volcanoes are found.

That said, the 3D can feel too extreme at times -- especially when the human subjects are far removed from the backgrounds. The layers of depth can feel too greatly separated, as if the foreground subjects were shot in front of green screens (they weren't). And some of the science flies by, such as the description -- via the "giant impact hypothesis" -- of how a planetary collision may have spurred volcanic activity on Earth. The science geeks in the audience may feel a bit shortchanged. But the 42-minute documentary was crafted to appeal to broad audiences, moving from computer-animated simulations to footage of the remarkably preserved devastation of Pompeii, the more recent destruction in Hawaii, and a number of rare visions captured by Peter in his exploits.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the research done by the people in Volcanoes 3D adds to our understanding of our world. Why is such information important? What do we gain?

  • What did you learn from the film? Had you heard, for instance, of the "giant impact hypothesis" -- i.e., that a smaller planet called Theia collided with Earth billions of years ago?

  • Is it necessary to put lives in danger to secure some of the movie's spectacular shots inside active volcanoes? How could that be achieved without the danger?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science and nature

Themes & Topics

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