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Experience the wonders of the Omnitheater

Jenna Stellmack, Staff Writer

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The world is an amazing place, filled with wonders. Unfortunately, the general public never gets to see most of those wonders in real life. Instead, the closest people get to the wilder parts of the world is the internet. However, located in the heart of the Twin Cities, the Science Museum presents a innovative new way to view the marvels of the planet.
The Minnesota Science Museum’s Omnitheater, located in downtown St. Paul, is another way to experience the adventures of the outdoors without actually going there. It’s better than, say, YouTube in a few fundamental ways. One is the massive screen, which curves around the theater, providing a more immersive view into the worlds on the screen. The other is that the documentaries at the Omnitheater are high quality and original.

Usually, only one or two films play at the museum at a time, but now, Omnifest is bringing many more options to viewers. This year’s science-themed documentary series features five movies about wolves, caves, chimpanzees, trains and flight, all which play until March 1.

One of the movies featured in the Omnifest this year is The Magic of Flight. It focuses on the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy’s flying demonstration team, covering everything from the daily routines of the pilots to footage of their shows. In addition, it provides information about the history and physics of flight that transforms it into an entertaining learning experience.
Along with the Blue Angels, The Magic of Flight features a large number of the first-person scenes of swooping and diving that films designed for the Omnitheater can’t seem to resist including. Something about being surrounded by what is, in effect, a giant flight simulator, seems to make the filmmakers ecstatic.

Although the flying scenes are often interesting and lend a sense of excitement to the show, this movie includes multiple scenes of spinning in the sky, inducing a sense of vertigo that might make it hard to keep eyes glued to the screen.
More swooping scenes are, as expected, present throughout another captivating film: Journey into Amazing Caves. However, it is more toned-down than The Magic of Flight, mostly featuring breathtaking footage of massive caves and the people exploring them.

Contrary to preconceptions, Journey into Amazing Caves is about biology, not geology. It chronicles the adventures of two spelunkers searching for bacteria, called extremophiles, that thrive in extreme conditions.
The movie follows them into caves in the cliffs near the Grand Canyon, caves tunneled hundreds of feet into the ice of Greenland, and caves entirely submerged in water. The natural scenery is breathtaking, though it’s unclear how the explorers were videotaped on their “solo descents.”

The Omnifest, running through March 1, is worth a visit. Tickets, which include general admission to the museum, are $24.95 for non-member adults, $18.95 for non-member children and seniors, and free for all members. Whether looking for action, adventure, science, or anything in between, taking the time to watch a film in the Science Museum’s Omnitheater is an experience that shouldn’t be missed.

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