Deep Blue

Reviewed By Erik Childress
Posted 07/02/05 01:51:05

"Not Quite As Thrilling As Chicago's Shedd Aquarium"
3 stars (Average)

Nature films are all the rage now ever since the success of Winged Migration. It’s the standard to which all “beauties-of-Earth” projects will be held to. Not that the birds-in-flight documentary invented some new genre. These types of films have been playing the Discovery Channel and in IMAX theatres for years and they certainly benefit from a larger-than-life treatment or as part of a High-Definition presentation on your television. Deep Blue arrives somewhere in the middle as a glorious collection of oceanic behavior a bit too removed from the education we hoped to snag along with it.

Deep Blue is actually a greatest hits package cobbled together from the terrific BBC series, Blue Planet. With a fresh score recorded by George Fenton, we’re thrust right above and below the surface of the ocean for a kind of Beyond the Mind’s Eye treatment. The “endless cycle of birth, death and renewal” is brought up close and personal in an epic battle of the food chain involving schools of fish, albatross, dolphins and as the special surprise guest, the whale. Hard to compete with the baddest daddy in the water. Just ask the seals who get tossed around like rag dolls for their culinary pleasure.

On the festival circuit where it has been playing for a couple years, it was narrated by Michael Gambon who has now been replaced with the soothing sounds of Pierce Brosnan. It could have been the radio DJ for the Lite FM for anyone cares, since the narration is perfunctory at best. As much as we would like to know about the food chain of the deep, this is more like a teacher showing you slides and encouraging you to go to the library. No one ever wants to feel like they’re in school when seeing a film (and never want to be preached to), but a serious documentary could have allowed a few more factoids instead of just relying on George Fenton’s score to keep us alert in-between moments of action.

There are more creatures in the ocean than you’d find in a George Lucas cantina. Coral resembling something out of Body Snatchers, organisms that would be right at home in a red carpet full of paparazzi, worm trees and jellyfish resembling pulsating pickle slices. And when all else fails, you can always fall right back on the dolphins. When Brosnan or Fenton aren’t adding their own brand of audible commentary, it can be fun to add your own as the various species interact (Finding Nemo fans won’t be able to resist yelling “MINE” during the visit with the Albatross) only to find yourself speechless with a shark attack that would make Robert Shaw turn in his grave. The brief time we spend with the penguins plays like a preview of the much superior, March of the Penguins, and a reminder of how funny they were in Madagascar. All in all, there’s certainly enough to hold one’s interest during Deep Blue, but you won’t learn as much as you would through a single corridor of Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium.

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