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Tiny Giants

"Tiny Giants 3D" is showing at the National Geographic Large Screen Theater, Putnam Museum, Davenport.

The little creatures crawl over the big screen. Sometimes, they’re fun to watch and sometimes, their lives are fraught with peril.

“Tiny Giants 3D” is a version of “Hidden Kingdoms,” a BBC series. This 45-minute film focuses on two small animals and their struggle to survive in two vastly different environments.

The narrator is Stephen Fry (you might recognize this fine actor from “The Hobbit” films), who gives just the proper emphasis to this tale set in a wooded area and in the Sonoran Desert in the Southwest, which boasts “more rattlesnakes than anywhere else on Earth.”

The chipmunk, whose challenge it is to gather enough acorns to last the winter, will be more familiar to audiences than the grasshopper mouse, a wee rodent that’s a carnivore and claims its turf with a kind of announcement howl. The filmmakers help the audience get surprisingly close to these animals — close enough to see a speck of dirt on a whisker, for instance. They also wisely use time-lapse and slow motion effects, which at times can be overdone in films, to show us how the creatures jump and scurry. We even get to see a brief moment of mushrooms growing.

The chipmunk and the grasshopper mouse are young and alone. They venture out tentatively at first, only to be met by a number of challenges. Surprisingly, one of the chipmunk’s most formidable foes is … another chipmunk. It turns out that the little critters can be prone to thievery and also physical altercations.

Other beings that threaten the existence of the two stars include birds of prey and snakes. And of course the elements pose a constant threat to the rodents’ survival.

Not surprisingly, this was produced by the same team as “Planet Earth.” It’s beautiful to see. How the cinematographers achieved shots into darkened places where rodents hide and burrow, as well where all kinds of predators lurk is beyond me — it’s impressive. Additionally, I like the way we see the environment, from falling snowflakes to an approaching raptor, from the perspective of the mouse and chipmunk.

The film does have some nature-related violence. You won’t see anything bloody, but some of the fierce-looking predators might be little intense for some smaller children.

Most families will relish the opportunity to get to know the largely unseen world of these tiny denizens of the earth, and may have new respect for these little animals’ courage and determination to survive.

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