Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees. It took five challenging years to make a film about the chimpanzees of Tanzania's Gombe Stream National Park -- five years of Imax-camera-damaging humidity, early mornings and uncooperative primates. In the end, the footage of chimps shrieking, playing, leaping through the trees and picking nits is interesting, but was the large-format camera really necessary? The opening shots from a plane, capturing herds of zebra and wildebeest running across the green hills and savannahs of Africa, are awesome. But why project close-ups of hairy chimps (and their distended assholes) on the inside of a giant dome? Dramatic it ain't. Still, the material on Goodall's 40-year effort to understand these long-lived animals is inspiring, and it's interesting to see chimps' diverse personalities and complex jungle pecking order. When viewers are informed that 99 percent of the DNA of humans and chimps is identical and then the film shows the male chimps patrolling their "border" and killing every animal in a rival community, it explains a lot about human behavior. At the St. Louis Science Center's Omnimax Theatre until May 2. (Byron Kerman)
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