by Lisa Kalner Williams
Categories: Animals.

Will “Oceans,” Disneynature’s latest Earth Day cinematic release, make a big splash at the box office? This documentary exploring the life aquatic seems to have dazzled critics with eye candy, but has left these reviewers searching for the film’s message.

Directed by Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud (both co-directors of “Winged Migration”), “Oceans” gives cinemagoers an intimate look of life beneath the sea.  The directors employed the latest underwater filming technologies to capture the incredible creatures of the deep blue.  Entertainment Weekly glows about the directors’ resulting visual imagery: “They capture, as never before, the literal, tactile texture of all those elegant sci-fi beings — the palpitating softness of a giant jellyfish, the mattress-like belly of a blue whale … the crinkly body of a ray so svelte and multicolored it looks like a rippling Hermès scarf.” Equally enthralled by the cinematography was Variety, who marveled that the film boasts “extraordinary images rendered with a clarity sure to become a touchstone for nature docus; even viewers who don’t care about fish will find plenty to exclaim about.”

The “wow factor” of “Oceans”‘ cinematic splendor seems to have one drawback — it overshadows any significant environmental message. The Washington Post laments that “for all ‘Oceans’ does to please the eyes and ears, it does nothing to engage the brain.” A similar sentiment is felt by The Boston Globe: ” Subsequent satellite images reveal streams of pollution, and we see creatures swimming among shopping carts. ‘Human indifference is surely the ocean’s greatest threat,’ continues [narrator Pierce] Brosnan. But before we can say ‘mercy, mercy me,’ it’s off to the cute leopard seals and waddling penguins of the Antarctic.”

The negative press given to “Oceans”‘ message doesn’t mean that the film won’t spark conversation about environmental protection. Parents who take their children to this G-rated, kid-friendly film can certainly extend the conversation at home to discuss how to help aquatic life thrive … and to get rid of those shopping carts.

Do you plan to see “Oceans?” How might you extend the conversation outside of your cineplex?

About Lisa Kalner Williams

Lisa Kalner Williams is a lover of rock 'n' roll and founder of Sierra Tierra Marketing, a social analytics, strategy, and education company. She lives with her vegan family in the Greater Boston area.

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  • georgina0912

    I saw it last Friday and while the documentary was going i kept thinking that there was something missing. At points it felt as if the film was badly edited as it jumped from scenery to scenery from aquatic animal to aquatic animal without any apparent relation to one another; at times it felt random.

    The cinematography is outstanding, but the one thing Brosnan said that resonated with me was that it was now up to us to make sure all those underwater creatures survive. I thought, hell yeah…and also wondered how to get the message to the teenagers sitting next to my husband and i who were laughing at the scenes of newly hatched turtles being snatched by albatross for food. WTF!

  • don miguelo

    Answer A is : It’s a Disney movie!
    Answer B is : A lot of non-activists and children will have visuals of trash in the oceans, how inhumane drift nets are, and how rivers bring trash into the Ocean. That’s pretty good I think.
    Answer C is : Disney’s movies are the gateway to real environmental movies, a process in which you won’t turn people off by hitting them too hard over the head at first; it’s basic psychology.

    • Linda

      You speak the truth, don miguelito. I mean, why are some people so serious? can’t they see this film as opening up more opportunities for children and the general public to better appreciate the important role of the ocean and the environment? It’s not The Cove, okay, but it still is a good film designed with a specific audience in mind.

      • Tommyismyname


        I see what you are saying about it being a “Disney” movie, and that it opens it up for more opportunities for more “serious” types of movies, but let me ask you a few questions…

        1.) Do you think Disney will make a follow up movie that can deliver the “serious” message under one of it’s child companies?

        2.) What’s wrong with taking a more early 90’s “Captain Planet” type of an approach to this movie, and using it’s broad reach and mainstream appeal to inject a more environmentally conscious message?

        3.) Do you think this movie had more viewers of “An Inconvenient Truth” and “The 11th hour” combined? and if so, could there be a way to integrate the two messages.

        The idea is not that it “could” open up more opportunities for these types of films, it’s that these films already exist, and they speak to the same audience. This was a chance for Disney to use it’s appeal and reach to promote such a message, instead of just cutting away to a cute seal when it started to get more uncomfortable.