Directed by Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud. Narrated by Pierce Brosnan. (2010, G, 84 min.)
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., April 30, 2010
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.