Up With the Outback

IMAX captures the creepy critters of Oz

Big screen. Check. Big continent. Check.

The perentie, a monitor lizard that grows up to eight feet in length, has a taste for just about anything that moves, and kills its prey by shaking it viciously, then swallowing the subject whole. Ulp.

Beyond the already familiar oddities -- koalas, platypuses -- that have evolved in Australia, there are legions of unusual animals that most of us haven't met. (That's a good thing in the case of our pal the perentie.) Yet from the relatively safe distance of the IMAX screen, the exotics captured in the film Australia: Land Beyond Time, which opens today, are easily appreciated.

Australia -- or "Oz," as it's nicknamed -- is a land made for IMAX effects. Soaring over deserts, sailing over the Great Barrier Reef, even closing in on the mystic Ulura (once known as Ayers Rock), the film unfolds fluidly as music by native performers plays in the background. During their two years of shooting, filmmakers David and Sue Flatman made sure to catch the unexpected. So as they show the larger gray kangaroos, for instance, you'll learn not only that the animals travel in "mobs," but that they really do box on occasion.

While the cost of traveling to the Southern Hemisphere to personally set foot on Earth's youngest continent (it ran away from Antarctica some 40 million years ago, scientists say) is prohibitive, admission to an almost-out-of-this world experience at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science's Phipps IMAX Theater, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, is only $5 to $8. Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.dmns.org; call 303-322-7009 for more hoppining events. -- Ernie Tucker

Bug Juice

African fable catches a Buzz

Mosquitoes get a bad rap. Biting? Sure. But it turns out they're nasty little rumormongers, too. To find out how they get their comeuppance, you'll have to go see Buzz: A West African Fable, today at 12:30 at the Boulder Theater.

Based on the children's book titled Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears, the production brings together the talents of young children and seasoned professionals from Express Your Self Dance and Movement Center and CAMP (Community, Artists, Musicians and Performers) of Boulder.

"What I love about Buzz," says co-director Jonathan Davis, "is that it is so accessible to children, and at the same time, it's totally intriguing for adults" with its rich, multi-ethnic mix of costumes, movement and music.

Performers come alive as owls, iguanas, lions, monkeys and mosquitoes, all to the beat of traditional music from Ghana performed by Boulder's own Charlie Sound, led by Adjei Abankwah.

Following a pre-show at noon for smaller children, the main performance gets under way at 12:30. Tickets may be purchased in advance at EYS, 1600 28th Street, suite 215, Boulder, 303-402-9777, or today at the Boulder Theater box office, 2034 14th Street, Boulder, 303-786-7030. General-seating admission prices are $12, $10 for EYS students and seniors, and $8 for kids under five. -- Hart Van Denburg

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