A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this informative and engrossing documentary takes a close look at the Earth's oceans and the creatures that call it home. Expect scenes depicting these bodies of water in all their glory and reality, and animals finding their place in the food chain (sharks feasting on fish, for instance, accompanied by dramatic music). The movie contains fairly subtle pro-environment messages. Kids younger than about 6 might find the hour-and-40-minute movie too long.
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What's the story?
In this fascinating documentary, director Jacques Perrin takes viewers on a journey beneath the Earth's waters, which famously cover three-quarters of its surface, into a world that resembles the above universe: vast, wondrous, complicated. Watch as an iguana sashays off the coast of the Galapagos; a blanket octopus flitters through plant life; a mother whale bonds with her baby; an orca battles a sea lion (and wins). Filmmakers Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud submerge viewers in a world comprised of some of the most amazing, unique, and vital denizens, and address the threats to this underwater universe.
Is it any good?
Disney's OCEANS is beautifully photographed and expertly narrated by actor Pierce Brosnan. It inspires audiences to think about their impact on the Earth's waters without clobbering them over the head with the admirable message. How does it do that? By letting one gorgeous image after another -- taken with the help of the latest and greatest in documentary filmmaking technology -- speak for itself. (You'll wonder how they got certain shots, they're that close!) Take the case of the sea turtles, who are shown digging their way out of the sand, only to face a perilous time traversing the shore back to the ocean. As hundreds inch their way, flocks of sea gulls fly overhead, swooping in to pluck a meal. Or of the blue whale, opening its mouth to collect serenely but surely its meal of krill. The message: It's a fish-eat-fish world out there, so to speak.
But Darwinian selection is one thing; endangering natural habitats is altogether an entirely unappetizing enterprise. And the subtlety and restraint with which Oceans addresses this issue is what elevates it from mere afterschool special. It builds a case by simpy revealing the splendor of it all, then raises questions by showing how capable humans are of destroying so much that is beautiful and vital to the planet. How subtle, how effective! Still, there's little narrative momentum, and some may actually think its message too subtle; the effects of pollution don't come up until approximately the last fifth of the film. That said, there's plenty to marvel at, though younger kids (six and under) might find it overlong at an hour and 40 minutes. Everyone else, though, can sit back and enjoy the underwater ride.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the message of the film. What was it? How did the movie get its message across? Did this movie change your opinion about the oceans?
Talk about the sea creatures: Did you expect to see so many different kinds? How difficult must it have been to photograph them in their natural state? What goes into making a film like this? Did it make you want to learn more about the animals or the filming?
This movie released on Earth Day. What do you think about the idea of Earth Day? Do you celebrate it, or do anything special on that day? What can you do to keep the environment healthy?
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