Bugs! gives new perspective on lives of tiny critters

Bugs are all around us ­— while we walk to class, eat dinner and even while we sleep — yet we often overlook their potential beauty.

Bugs!, an IMAX film, currently playing at the California Science Center, offers viewers a remarkable glimpse into the world of Amazonian insects.

Insect-haters, fear not. The makers of Bugs! capture the lives of insects in a style that evokes beauty instead of causing nausea.

The film opens by showing the legs of a giant centipede as it winds its way up a tree. In reality, the centipede is no longer than the average index finger, but the cameras focus so closely that each leg takes on a life of its own. The use of macro photography throughout the film is remarkable and transforms revolting insects into captivating creatures.

Bugs! doesn’t boast a cast of A-list actors or multi-million dollar special effects, but it is not without its triumphs.

The film follows Papilio, a young caterpillar from the mean streets of the Amazon as he braves the odds of being a small bug in a big forest.

Inclement weather and lurking predators are no match for our young hero, and right before our eyes, Papilio transforms into an elegant butterfly.

On the other side of the jungle, Hierodula the mantis must make a name for himself. From trying to attract a mate to escaping the clutches of a vicious iguana, the obstacles are plentiful.

One of the film’s most striking scenes features Hierodula stalking a fly, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. In stunning 3-D and with the help of high-speed film, the hunt for a fly becomes as exhilarating as any Hollywood human fight sequence.

If watching insects endure the circle of life doesn’t do much for you, the sultry voice of Judi Dench narrating the film is enough to make you rush out and catch the next show.

An upbeat, jazzy score also helps to create a rousing portrayal of the smallest of creatures in the biggest of jungles. Large beetles make tracks across a sandy patch to samba-driven jazz, while horns blare triumphantly as they catch their prey.

Bugs! has all the trappings of a Hollywood movie. It is scary yet tranquil, raunchy yet endearing and emerges as a potent celebration of life and a sad rumination on death.

For a student-discounted price of only $6, it is hard to believe that more students haven’t already taken advantage of Bugs! and other offerings at the California Science Center’s IMAX theater.

As if the financial incentive were not enough, the center offers its viewers a unique aesthetic experience, not to be found at the weathered movie house of the University Village or at L.A. Live’s multiplex sprawl.

The average age of viewers in attendance might  be close to seven, but one can think of Bugs! as an opportunity to recapture youth.

Just sit back, relax and let Dench’s captivating voice waft over you as you become engulfed in a world so tiny, only the scale of a giant IMAX screen could do it justice.

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