Oceans *** 1/2
This stunningly beautiful documentary is the second from the Disneynature label, which gave us 2009's "Earth." Whereas that film followed wildlife across the globe, "Oceans" takes a plunge deep into its waters, with jaw-dropping results. It's a truly immersive experience filled with countless how'd-they-get-that? shots.
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Fish that look like rocks — or scarves, or a jeweled brooch, or anything but fish — are among the fascinating underwater creatures that inhabit “Oceans.”
This stunningly beautiful documentary is the second in a series from the new Disneynature label, which gave us “Earth” exactly one year ago on Earth Day. Whereas that film followed wildlife across the globe, “Oceans” takes a plunge deep into its waters, with jaw-dropping results.
Directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud provide a truly immersive experience, without the three-dimensional IMAX effects of the similar — and similarly awe-inspiring — “Under the Sea 3D” from 2009. Having spent seven years working on “Oceans,” including four years gathering footage, they’ve created countless how’d-they-get-that? shots. It took them 28 weeks of waiting, for example, to acquire their up-close-and-personal moments with a blue whale, a creature a half-block long and weighing 120 tons.
That’s among the nuggets of information narrator Pierce Brosnan provides in his soothing Irish tones. At times, the script veers toward the cutesy, but that’s probably to make “Oceans” as palatable as possible for the young viewers to whom much of the film is intended.
It’s not just the images themselves that are striking, but also the way in which they’re pieced together. Perrin and Cluzaud, who also directed the Oscar-nominated documentary “Winged Migration,” have crafted a nonfiction film that’s shot and edited like a feature. They make us feel an emotional connection as we watch the intimacy of a female walrus delicately caring for her pup, or the heartbreaking sight of baby sea turtles scurrying across the sand for their tiny lives just moments after being hatched. (This would be a good time to urge you to bring tissues.)
Meanwhile, along the shore, sea otters frolic in Monterey Bay and penguins in the Arctic emerge from the frigid water, only to shake themselves off and waddle away. The adorable factor is high.
Still other moments are striking for their enormity: scads of spider crabs crawling over each other in undulating waves across the ocean floor, or sea birds dive-bombing the surface in symphonic fashion as they hunt for fish, with scores of dolphins leaping and twisting among them. The sweeping score from French composer Bruno Coulais, who also worked on “Winged Migration,” heightens these scenes.
It is highly unlikely that you would ever have the opportunity to witness such spectacles in person; Perrin and Cluzaud scoured all five oceans to bring them to you. And Brosnan, as narrator, reminds us that all this majesty is in danger: Like “Earth” and “Under the Sea 3D,” “Oceans” includes a message about the importance of protecting our underwater expanses and the beings that call them home from pollution and climate change.
These are familiar but, unfortunately, still necessary words to hear.