Doesn't the Grand Canyon deserve a better adjective?

Stunning. Spectacular. Sensational. It's also dangerous and endangered.

Photojournalist Peter McBride and writer Kevin Fedarko teeter on the edge of red cliffs, hack their way through mesquite, fend off attack from every manner of cactus and all the while marvel at the grandeur of one of the nation's most famous natural treasures in Into the Canyon.

McBride, director and head cinematographer, is the architect of the adventure, and with the backing of National Geographic, he talks Fedarko into the prospect. The two explain how their globetrotting exploits have often bordered on life-taking failure. This one appears to be no different; ore than one moment leaves the viewer gasping and then shaking the head. They don't make the standard canyon traverse down one side and up the other, nor do they take to boats. They walk it end to end—a distance of around 750 miles, roughly equivalent to the length of the state of California.

It's a chance to showcase the peril, the dangers of resource overuse and of the efforts at "monetizing beauty:" developers who want to build a tramway from the rim to the canyon floor; uranium mines that have polluted the water; helicopters tours that take off by the hundreds every day; people from the Navajo Nation, members of the Havasupai tribe and others who fight for balance.

The visuals and the morals of the film aren't exactly matched by its dialog, which doesn't carry an abiding narrative depth. For a film that makes a point of how awesome it is to experience the silence of the canyon, there's a lot of pointless screaming.

But then there's the sky over the rim, the lightning sizzling from blueblack clouds, the light and color changing. It sure is grand.

7
+Eye candy and adventure
-Too much McBride selfie footage

Into the Canyon
Directed by McBride
Violet Crown, NR, 84 min.