D-Day 3D: Normandy 1944 is an IMAX documentary opening today at Pacific Science Center. It's one of the 45-minute family friendly educational documentaries that IMAX was known for before they got into the blockbuster business, and so there's none of the Saving Private Ryan-style brutal realism you might be expecting. Instead, the cruelties of war are presented in maps, computer animation, innocuous (and poorly acted) reenactments based on letters from France at the time of D-Day, and sand animation. The IMAX 3D treatment, while far better than the crappy digital 3D we've grown accustomed to at the multiplex, is completely unnecessary.
As an educational film, D-Day 3D does the job. It explains the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the invasion—literally; the film is broken up into chapters for each of those questions—and it does so clearly and (since Tom Brokaw is narrating) authoritatively. It's not especially entertaining, and the animation at times feels cheap, but you leave the movie knowing a hell of a lot more about the most pivotal day in World War II than you did when you went in. That's what you expect out of a 45-minute IMAX movie, and that's exactly what you get.