Documentaries and IMAX Favorites

by ThisGuyFritz | created - 24 Dec 2013 | updated - 1 week ago | Public

This list gets updated whenever I see another good one. I'm also including theatrical and TV documentaries, especially since most IMAX films are documentaries.

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1. Fires of Kuwait (1992)

36 min | Documentary, Short

After Saddam Hussein had the Kuwait Oil wells lit up, teams from all over the world fought those fires for months. They had to save the oil resources, as well as reduce air pollution. The ... See full summary »

Director: David Douglas | Star: Rip Torn

Votes: 365

My second IMAX movie I saw. The first was "Flight of the Aquanaut" which is not as good (that's why it's not on this list).

2. Destiny in Space (1994)

40 min | Documentary, Short

Travel up close astronauts as they repair the Hubble Space Telescope and soar above Venus and Mars whilst finding proof of new planets and the possibility of other life forming around distant stars.

Directors: Ben Burtt, Phyllis Ferguson, James Neihouse, Gail Singer | Stars: Leonard Nimoy, Roberta L. Bondar, Eric DeJong, Ronald J. Grabe

Votes: 310

Out of the few IMAX films I saw in the theater, this one's my favorite.

3. Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets (1984)

35 min | Documentary, Short

The human history of the Grand Canyon is explored in this documentary, focusing on the earliest native civilizations about which little is known, through the coming of the Europeans, the ... See full summary »

Director: Kieth Merrill | Stars: Daniel T. Majetich, Coby Jordan, Bruce Simballa, Stuart Reeder

Votes: 233 | Gross: $52.80M

Also saw this in the theater after "Destiny in Space". Also saw it on DVD. Although I recall hearing Jeremy Irons' voice when I saw it in the theater and the DVD release had a different narrator. Anyhoo, it's still one of the best.

4. The Living Sea (1995)

Not Rated | 40 min | Documentary, Short

A survey of the world's oceans, emphasizing the fact that it's a single interconnected ocean, and the dependence of all life on the ocean. Along the way we spend time with some surfers, ... See full summary »

Director: Greg MacGillivray | Stars: Steven K. Katona, Meryl Streep, Judith Connor, William Hamner

Votes: 502

I once had this on a 5 DVD set of MacGillivray Freeman Films. They were in the "non-widescreen" (4:3) ratio. I sold that set and bought the 50th Anniversary Set of 10 blu-ray discs in the 16:9 ratio. The other 9 on that set are listed below (up to "Arabia 3D").

5. The Magic of Flight (1996)

Not Rated | 40 min | Short, Documentary

The Magic of Flight places viewers in the cockpit of a Blue Angels jet aircraft so they can experience the thrill of high performance flight. Narrated by Tom Selleck, The Magic of Flight ... See full summary »

Director: Greg MacGillivray | Star: Tom Selleck

Votes: 254

My first time was on DVD. My second on Blu-ray. Another one of the best IMAX films.

6. Dolphins (2000)

Not Rated | 39 min | Documentary, Short

Experience how dolphins live and play, and unravel the mysteries of dolphin communication in this Academy Award-nominated IMAX film which takes you into the complex lives of these fascinating animals.

Director: Greg MacGillivray | Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Alejandro Acevedo-Gutiérrez, Dean Bernal, Kathleen Dudzinski

Votes: 439 | Gross: $84.40M

7. Journey Into Amazing Caves (2001)

Not Rated | 39 min | Documentary, Short

Meet Dr. Hazel Barton and Nancy Aulenbach. These women are compelled to push their limits in hostile environments. They are cavers who risk fatal danger for the thrill of discovery. Barton ... See full summary »

Director: Stephen Judson | Stars: Liam Neeson, Steve Atteberry, Nancy Holler Aulenbach, Hazel Barton

Votes: 481 | Gross: $30.00M

8. Coral Reef Adventure (2003)

Not Rated | 45 min | Documentary

Take a once in a lifetime journey across the South Pacific for a spectacular IMAX adventure. Joy, ecstasy, a spiritual high: these words describe the exhilaration of diving a pristine coral... See full summary »

Director: Greg MacGillivray | Stars: Liam Neeson, Howard Hall, Michele Hall, Jean-Michel Cousteau

Votes: 508 | Gross: $24.60M

9. Mystery of the Nile (2005)

Not Rated | 48 min | Documentary

Join a team of explorers on the expedition of a lifetime as they set off to become the first to navigate the Blue Nile from source to sea. The epic 3,260 mile descent down the world's ... See full summary »

Director: Jordi Llompart | Stars: Gordon Brown, Joe Lewis

Votes: 304 | Gross: $50.00M

10. Greece: Secrets of the Past (2006)

Not Rated | 45 min | Documentary

The magic of ancient Greek civilization comes to life in a giant screen adventure! From the Academy Award-nominated producers of Everest, comes a dynamic tale of science, archeological adventure and discovery.

Director: Greg MacGillivray | Stars: Christos Sourmelis, Marissa Becker, Dain Blanton, Giovani Capone

Votes: 194

11. Hurricane on the Bayou (2006)

Unrated | 42 min | Documentary

A documentary on the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Directors: Greg MacGillivray, Glen Pitre | Stars: Bear Badeaux, Tab Benoit, Peggy Burgard, Chubby Carrier

Votes: 270

12. Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk (2008)

Not Rated | 44 min | Documentary, Adventure

A documentary about a 15-day river-rafting trip on the Colorado River aimed at highlighting water conservation issues.

Director: Greg MacGillivray | Stars: Tara Davis, Wade Davis, Flo Di Re, Steve Fisher

Votes: 367

As compared to the other Grand Canyon Film (The Hidden Secrets), I couldn't decided which one I prefer. "The Hidden Secrets" is good for the history and "River at Risk" is good for sending an important message.

13. Arabia 3D (2011)

Not Rated | 46 min | Documentary

Discover a land as exotic as it is extraordinary. Arabia 3D offers an in-depth understanding of one of the most fascinating lifestyles and cultures. Cross the dunes with a caravan of camels... See full summary »

Director: Greg MacGillivray | Stars: Hamzah Jamjoom, Reem AlHabib, Ahmad Zaki Hammad, Robert Lacey

Votes: 123

14. Super Size Me (2004)

PG | 100 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama

73 Metascore

While examining the influence of the fast food industry, Morgan Spurlock personally explores the consequences on his health of a diet of solely McDonald's food for one month.

Director: Morgan Spurlock | Stars: Morgan Spurlock, Daryl Isaacs, Chemeeka Walker, Dania Abu-Rmaileh

Votes: 96,672 | Gross: $11.53M

You'll be informed about fast food and stuff.

15. For All Mankind (1989)

Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary, History

An in-depth look at various NASA moon landing missions, starting with Apollo 8.

Director: Al Reinert | Stars: Jim Lovell, Ken Mattingly, Russell Schweickart, Eugene Cernan

Votes: 4,687 | Gross: $0.77M

First saw this on PBS, then on VHS from a local library. NOW, I gotta see it on blu-ray by The Critereon Collection.

16. The Vanishing Prairie (1954)

Approved | 71 min | Documentary, Family

Story of the American Prairie as it was when vast herds of bison and elk grazed.

Director: James Algar | Star: Winston Hibler

Votes: 352

17. Beautiful People (1974)

G | 92 min | Comedy, Documentary

Hilarious documentary on the wildlife of the Namib Desert.

Director: Jamie Uys | Star: Paddy O'Byrne

Votes: 3,462

18. Winged Migration (2001)

G | 89 min | Documentary

82 Metascore

Documentary on the migratory patterns of birds, shot over the course of three years on all seven continents.

Directors: Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud, Michel Debats | Stars: Jacques Perrin, Philippe Labro

Votes: 11,200 | Gross: $10.76M

19. Cosmos (1980)

TV-PG | 60 min | Documentary

Astronomer Carl Sagan leads us on an engaging guided tour of the various elements and cosmological theories of the universe.

Stars: Carl Sagan, Jaromír Hanzlík, Jonathan Fahn, Alan Belod

Votes: 32,685

One of the shows I've managed to see more than once back in the day (thanks to our first VCR). A few changes were made in the 1990's to update the series (including a scene of people getting Internet access via PCs). Still a good series. NOW, I gotta see the one with Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

20. Europe After the Rain (1978)

88 min | Documentary

Dada came out of the craziness of World War One. "The birth of Dada was not the beginning of art but of disgust." Surrealism tried to systematize Dada's anarchy into an artistic blend of ... See full summary »

Director: Mick Gold | Stars: Joan Bakewell, Simon Cadell, Dennis Clinton, Ruth Cubbin

Votes: 42

This was shown on PBS. If you're interested in Modern Art, check this out.

21. Ring of Fire (II) (1991)

40 min | Documentary, Short

This spectacular presentation explores the volcano belt known as the Ring of Fire. Breathtaking cinematography displays close up shots of past and present Pacific Rim volcanoes from Chile, USA, Japan and the Philippines.

Director: George Casey | Stars: Robert Foxworth, Norman Banks, Lawrence Blair, Gary Rosenquist

Votes: 209

22. Blue Planet (1990)

42 min | Short, Documentary

On several Shuttle missions, Earth has been portrayed from places that nobody else could reach. We also get shown the different locations and the environmental problems mankind created ... See full summary »

Director: Ben Burtt | Stars: James Buchli, Toni Myers

Votes: 721 | Gross: $22.80M

First saw it on DVD (in the 4:3 ratio). Then on a Blu-ray Disc that has "The Dream Is Alive" (in 16:9 widescreen). I'm not sure which one I prefer.

23. The Dream Is Alive (1985)

Not Rated | 37 min | Documentary, Short

Traveling on the Space Shuttle, covers training, launch, flight, deployment of LDEF from Challenger in April 1984 (STS-41C).

Director: Graeme Ferguson | Stars: Walter Cronkite, David Leestma, George Nelson, Sally Ride

Votes: 417

Mabye this other one. Both are good, anyways.

24. Wild Ocean (2008)

45 min | Documentary

Wild Ocean is an uplifting cinematic experience capturing one of natures greatest migration spectacles through the magic of IMAX. Plunge into an underwater feeding frenzy amidst the ... See full summary »

Directors: Luke Cresswell, Steve McNicholas

Votes: 229

I saw and liked in 2015.

25. Solarmax (2000)

38 min | Short, Documentary

Solarmax is a 40-minute giant-screen documentary that tells the story of humankind's struggle to understand the sun. The film will take audiences on an incredible voyage from pre-history to... See full summary »

Director: John Weiley | Star: Alex Scott

Votes: 234

Another good one. Also includes bonus documentaries from the 1970's: "Spirits of the Polar Night - The Aurora" (30 min) and "Earthspace - The Magnetosphere" (47 min).

26. The Last Reef 3D (2012)

Not Rated | 40 min | Documentary, Short, Family

From the Academy-Award nominated creators of the Broadway show STOMP and the award-winning film Wild Ocean, The Last Reef is an uplifting, inspirational large-format and 3D cinema ... See full summary »

Directors: Luke Cresswell, Steve McNicholas

Votes: 281

Not THE LAST IMAX movie I'll see. There are more I'm gonna see.

27. Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia (2007)

Not Rated | 41 min | Documentary

If it weren't for a series of cataclysmic events, a comet impact being first on the list, our planet could well still be the domain of dinosaurs. Following Pr Rodolfo Coria, a world-reknown... See full summary »

Director: Marc Fafard | Stars: Donald Sutherland, Rodolfo Coria

Votes: 385

In fact, here's something I've seen AFTER "The Last Reef". Not the best but not a waste of time.

28. Dinosaurs Alive (2007)

Not Rated | 40 min | Documentary, Short

This program presents some of the more recent ideas about dinosaurs that are gaining acceptance while following paleontologists searching for fossils over the decades in the Gobi Desert and New Mexico.

Directors: David Clark, Bayley Silleck | Stars: Michael Douglas, Sterling Nesbitt, Alan H. Turner

Votes: 309 | Gross: $43.97M

Also, NOT a waist of time to see this.

29. Legends of Flight (2010)

Not Rated | 45 min | Documentary

LEGENDS OF FLIGHT is a film that will not only delight and entertain the aviation enthusiast but also educate and inspired renewed interest in aviation by the traveling public, the media ... See full summary »

Director: Stephen Low

Votes: 240

"Ultimate G's" is like a LAME after-school special. Watch this, instead!

30. Planet Earth (2006)

TV-PG | 538 min | Documentary

Emmy Award-winning, 11 episodes, five years in the making, the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the BBC, and the first to be filmed in high definition.

Stars: David Attenborough, Sigourney Weaver, Huw Cordey, Doug Allan

Votes: 153,549

Gotta include this.

31. The Blue Planet (2001)

TV-G | 389 min | Documentary

Mammoth series, five years in the making, taking a look at the rich tapestry of life in the world's oceans.

Stars: David Attenborough, Pierce Brosnan, Jason Roberts

Votes: 29,743

...and this.

32. Planet Earth II (2016)

TV-G | 298 min | Documentary

David Attenborough returns in this breathtaking documentary showcasing life on Planet Earth.

Star: David Attenborough

Votes: 80,141

One of my favorite "Planet" mini-series.

33. Frozen Planet (2011)

TV-PG | 60 min | Documentary

Focuses on life and the environment in both the Arctic and Antarctic.

Stars: David Attenborough, Alec Baldwin, Chadden Hunter, Ted Giffords

Votes: 23,454

Another one of my favorites.

34. The National Parks: America's Best Idea (2009)

120 min | Documentary, History

The history of the U.S. National Parks system, including the initial ideas which led to the world's first national parks and the expansion of the system over 150 years.

Stars: Peter Coyote, William Cronon, Dayton Duncan, Shelton Johnson

Votes: 1,359

Being a fan of nature and history, I knew this is something I wanna see. I've seen it twice, as well as the worthy extras, due to owning it on blu-ray.

35. Brooklyn Bridge (1981)

TV-G | 58 min | Documentary, History

This documentary chronicles the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. The difficult construction process is described in interesting detail; later parts of the film interview ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Burns | Stars: Paul Roebling, Julie Harris, Arthur Miller, Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Votes: 639

I've seen it on PBS. I've also seen it on DVD thanks to a local library.

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