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"Oceans" Documentary Sweeps Up Reviewers, Washes Away Environmental Message

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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?

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