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 nature documentary follows one little loggerhead turtle as she makes her arduous migratory journey across the Gulf Stream and around the North Atlantic. There's nothing particularly disturbing in the film, though one early scene does include a tense sequence in which the baby turtle attempts to reach the ocean despite threats from hungry crabs and predatory birds. Nothing ends up happening to "our" turtle, but we do learn how few of them actually make it to adulthood. This is the rare case of a movie being more educational than entertaining, and it might not hold young kids' interest for the complete runtime.
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What's the story?
Narrated by Miranda Richardson, this wildlife documentary chronicles THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY of the loggerhead turtle, from tiny hatchling to sea voyager to full adult who will make the return trip back to her ancestral home on the beaches on Florida. As viewers learn early on, only one in every 10,000 turtles will ever make it to adulthood; but against all odds, this "little turtle that could" weathers every potential threat -- other animals, cargo ships, hunger -- to undergo one of the animal kingdom's longest migrations.
Is it any good?
The visuals are beautiful, but the story feels about half an hour too long. And while the swelling score and intense voice over try to make every scene feel significant, unless you (or your kid) is a passionate turtle lover, you may begin to wonder where you've stashed your copy of March of the Penguins.
Filmmakers who direct animal documentaries must balance the need to show the natural world as it unfolds in front of the camera with the desire to create a more human-like drama for the sake of entertainment. Unfortunately, Turtle swings a little too far in the latter direction, with overwrought narration. There also isn't that much inherent tension. It's not that "our" turtle doesn't face any pulse-quickening moments, but after her initial race to the ocean, there's just not that much going on (and if she had been one of thousands of unlucky turtles, obviously there would be no story).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether a nature documentary about an individual animal can be as interesting as a film that follows groups of the same animal or different species. Which do you prefer?
How do human actions affect the life of the loggerhead turtles? What can we do to minimize our impact on the sea?
What's the movie's environmental message? How does it appear in the film?
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