Nature is a mystery. We’ve lived here for so long, yet we’ve only scratched the surface of our planet. Things above and below all have something we don’t know about and when a new discovery is made, it’s like finding life on another world. Last year, the newly conceived Disneynature opened our eyes to the workings of life with a film simply titled Earth. While it had its downfalls, it was nevertheless a tremendous achievement. This year, they’ve released Oceans, which hopes to explore the bluer side of the planet.
And when it comes to the visuals, it wildly succeeds. The things you’ll see are downright beautiful, epic in a way a fictional film can only hope to achieve. You couldn’t create more wondrous sights if you had the best visual effects artists in the world. All due credit goes to Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud who both delved into the oceans themselves to capture the grandeur of underwater life.
However, despite their amazing work, Oceans fails. The reason why is hard to pinpoint because there is no one clear problem. There are many and almost all of them stem from the poor writing. When I walked out of Earth, I felt like I had learned something, however minor it may have been. Oceans says nothing anybody with even a passing interest in marine biology wouldn’t know.
It’s a shame because the elegant camerawork sets the movie up to teach. So many times I found myself staring in awe at what the underwater creatures were doing, but I wondered, what was the significance? Why were they doing what they were doing? Instead of answering these questions, the film simply cuts somewhere else.
Usually to something unrelated. While this carries the same problems its spiritual predecessor did, like a lack of focus, Earth at least toned its main exploration down to a handful of animals. Oceans never settles on any and instead meanders from here to there, from fish to crab, from the coasts of California to the waters of Antarctica. It’s understandable because there are so many fascinating creatures in the sea, but it’s more than a little ambitious to foolishly think you can fit them all in and believe me, they tried.
One thing Oceans gets right that Earth got wrong is a downplay on the cutesy narration. Other than a few instances, Pierce Brosnan’s words never bordered on sickly sweet, but perhaps that’s simply because these animals aren’t cute. Outside of the occasional baby turtle or sea otter, these animals, if looking at them from a traditional aesthetic viewpoint, are far from cute. In fact, many are quite grotesque. It may be shallow to argue that Oceans suffers because its subjects aren’t as pretty as those in Earth, but there you have it.
One thing I hated about Earth was that it never knew when to shut up and let you marvel at the sights. Oceans shuts up too much and that is, ultimately, its downfall. You can only get so far with beautiful imagery. You need substance to back it up and I learned nothing from Oceans that I didn’t already know. If you can get by this, or have zero knowledge of marine life, you may enjoy it. As for me, it’s a huge disappointment and as much as I wanted to love it, I didn’t.
Oceans receives 2/5