In the opening moments of this new nature documentary from the French filmmaking team who made Winged Migration
, narrator Pierce Brosnan wonders aloud about the identity – no, the essence
– of the substance that covers two-thirds of the planet. (Only a Frenchie film could hook on the ocean's je ne sais quoi.) Brosnan sniggeringly dismisses the idea that Latin names will get you any closer to understanding la mer
– even though Latin names, in fact, can be quite instructive – and that sort of resistance to hard facts dogs the film. The camera may dive deep, but the content merely skims the surface, with a faux-poetic script that surely sounded better in French ("the ocean smiles at the sky") and a frustrating tendency to dangle fascinating bits of information – that select groups of orca have developed a special method of hunting sea lion, for instance – and then going silent. (That special method could involve nunchucks, for all the viewer knows.) "As humans reached for the stars, all of nature got out of whack," a distressed Brosnan informs us, without ever expanding on the link between space exploration and its injurious effect on the oceans. But boy hidee, that's a marvelous shot of a marine iguana watching a faraway shuttle launch. Therein lies the only reason to put up with the lightweight and disorganized narrative: the remarkable footage. Perrin and Cluzaud excel in the predator-prey scenes, generating real tension, and there is something compulsively watchable in the unchoreographed balletics of a school of fish in gliding formation. The dazzling marine life on display speaks for itself – but it shouldn't have to.