Given what kids have had to go by, they might think that lemurs are like Sacha Baron Cohen’s animated King Julien character in “Madagascar”: furry creatures who spend half their time hanging with penguins in Central Park, and make funny noises that somehow remind you of the guy in those “Ali G” commercials. The IMAX 3-D nature documentary “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar” aims to give us the facts about our most ancient primates. But the animals are so magically entertaining to watch here (helped by some gently mischievous narrative assists), the educational treatment is a fun time in its own right.
The film reunites narrator Morgan Freeman (can you believe “March of the Penguins” was almost a decade ago?) with director-cinematographer David Douglas and writer Drew Fellman, veterans of the 2011 orangutans-and-elephants documentary “Born to Be Wild 3D.” They dive into their latest subject by establishing lemurs as castaways. These not-quite-monkeys may have survived the asteroid strike that killed the dinosaurs, but they couldn’t dodge some subsequent, massive storm that sent a number of their kind floating from Africa to Madagascar. (Latin factoid: “Lemur” means “wandering spirit.”) With no natural predators on the massive island, lemurs thrived there, evolving into upwards of a hundred different species – even while going extinct everywhere else.