April 29, 2010

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Oceans (G)
The folks at Disneynature bring us all the cute, majestic and totally oddball creatures of the sea in Oceans, a study of pretty pictures and gentle give-a-hoot reminders.

Pierce Brosnan narrates a none-too-brainy trip to the world’s most visually exciting underwater locales. We see crazy feathery fish, Chanel-worthy black-and-white snakes, big Melville-ian whales, scary Spielbergian sharks and all sorts of things that look like they rolled around in the watercolor set before going for a swim. It’s all very lovely and all a little vague. Forget my nerdy desire for more Latin names and species identifications. There are times when we flat out have no idea if we’re watching porpoises or sharks or what. We’re told that a group of whales in Alaska have a fascinating method of hunting — a fish net made of bubbles — but we don’t get a look at it nor any more on it than that statement before we are whisked away to some other postcard-ready, information-light scene.

The actual run time of the movie seems to come in right around an hour and 20 minutes, though at times it felt like longer. I quickly tired of Brosnan’s narration — both his plodding delivery and the deep cheesiness of the words, thick with greeting card sentiment but lacking the kind of crazy can-eat-its-own-weight-in-krill type facts that can make these creatures fascinating. This is a movie that will absolutely stun you with its visuals — bright orange fish, a heavenly choir of jellyfish, deliberately scuttling shellfish — but doesn’t give you anywhere to go after that. You are just made to look, not ask smartypants questions about how something interacts with other animals, how big it grows, what it eats or what special tricks it does. The result is that the movie feels strangely empty — full of beauty but absent the details that would truly make these creatures and their place in the world real and exciting. B-

Rated G. Directed by Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud and written by Christophe Cheysson, Jacques Cluzaud, Laurent Debas, Steaphane Durand, Laurent Gaude, Jacques Perrin and Francois Sarano, Oceans is an hour and 40 minutes long and distributed by Disneynature..