Rated G, 86 minutes
Ambitious but magical "Oceans" an underwater, visual feast
If you enjoyed last year's entertaining "Earth," you also enjoy "Oceans," the latest Earth Day docu-offering from Disneynature. This time, the deep-pockets at Disney tackle the deep ocean depths with some high-quality, amazing underwater footage, capturing an array of deep sea creatures on full display in magical force. Overly ambitious and overly optimistic, the bright, crystal-clear visuals are the obvious highlight of "Oceans" and make it enjoyable for the whole family even if the leisurely-paced film barely skims the surface of the ocean floor.
Disney wants you to enjoy their view of the ocean floor, and it's evident they have the resources to do so. They hired French filmmakers Jacques Perrin (who helmed the bird documentary "Winged Migration") and Jacques Cluzaud, who spent four years traveling the globe filming at over 50 different locations. Cynicism aside, their footage is impressive, even astonishing at times and fascinating to watch.
With minimal but unnecessary narration from the ubiquitious Pierce Brosnan, the film works best when it loosely and naturally observes life underwater: big fish eating small fish; fish helping each other out; sea lions in their natural habitat; small, freshly-hatched sea turtles attempting to make their way to the water before being grabbed by birds overhead.
"Oceans" is enjoyable enough, even if its overly optimistic, somewhat myopic views of nature seem a little dated. It vastly overlooks the dangers of pollution, the role of man and other societal dangers that humans have imposed on the ocean and their impact on these creatures. It's admirable that Disney takes the high road in avoiding a bombastic tone (thankfully, no Al Gore appearances here) but a few more gentle reminders to take care of what we've been given would've been nice.
Even more intriguing are the creatures overlooked in the film. "Oceans" provides a good variety of unique acquatic creatures to enjoy, from penguins to dolphins to sharks to turtles to crabs and more fish than you can fry up in an evening, all of which make for an entertaining time (best scene: a flurry of birds diving into the water for small fish). But what about the munchy, slimy creatures: barracudas, squid and piranha? With all the money Disney spent on it ($100 million on a documentary is enormous) and the expansive subject, you'd think "Oceans" would shed a little light on the sea's more dangerous creatures.
Still, even with Disney's overly sanguine views on nature (and the producers inability to coherently tie it all together), I must say the visuals alone make for a worthy film to behold. "Oceans" has a buoyancy and a hopeful tone that'll float better than Wilson or Tom Hanks: Disney wants to you to enjoy nature a little more, and there's nothing wrong with that.